Over the past couple of months, my mail workflow has changed. I used Airmail a lot on all devices. Aesthetically it’s great on the eye, lots of Power User actions and it was a pleasure (in the main) to process my Inboxes. I did find, however, that there were occasions where mailboxes weren’t syncing correctly and I was losing important messages. Also, there were times when messages were being stuck in my Inbox on one device, despite being moved to Trash, or Archived, on another. As much as I try to minimise my use of email, it’s still got to be reliable when I need it, so despite the fact it still looks kinda ugly, I moved back to Mail.app as my default Mail client. I also use MailButlernow which makes using Mail a lot more pleasant and I’ll write about my experience with this application soon.
One thing I missed about Airmail when I first moved across was the Searchingcapabilities. By default, Airmail will search all mailboxes rather than the one you are currently in so this was a habit I had got into that needed to break. Why do I rely on Search so much? Well, my workflow means that I have a minimised email structure. For each email account I have (unfortunately I have several clients, meaning several different accounts as I work with them), I have an Inbox and an Archive folder. Oh, and Trash of course, however I don’t really count that. I don’t like the whole subfolder culture that is around. If I took the time to file every email that came in into a dedicated folder, I’d never have time to work! Also, how often do I find myself retrieving that email? Not often. The time taken to file is a lot longer than the time it takes to perform a search on the whole, so I decided to learn as much as I could about how to search effectively within Mail.app. I was pleasantly surprised when I dug a little deeper and while the below isn’t an exponential list of all of the functionality, it highlights how I use it daily, so hopefully will help you.
1 - Natural Language
I didn’t realise that Mail was able to understand natural language. I guess I’ve been away from it too long, so when I started to type in phrases like from Kelly yesterday or pdf files to Mike, it was nice to see the right results appear. I’ve got into using natural language parsing a lot when using apps such as Fantastical 2 and voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo so I’m pleased that I can keep that habit going.
Other searches I’ll use over the course of the day include
- from (person)
- To (person)
- Excel files
- To (person) about (keyword)
2 - Stack Search Criteria
You aren’t limited to one search term. Once you’ve clicked on your first search element, continue typing and another list of potential search criteria will appear below. Click again, rinse, repeat as often as necessary. You can see below that I’m creating a search for emails from my wife, received yesterday, that have attachments.