Maybe this should be filed under “No Duh” but it’s taken me this long to figure out that Mail’s smart folders might actually save my life.
For the past year or so, I’ve adopted the “save everything” approach, ala gmail, except on my Mac. So I have this huge “Received Mail” archive that actually, for better or for worse, contains every single email that makes it to my inbox, including spam that SpamSieve filters.
I’m not perfect at this, but I like to strive for an empty inbox. This makes me feel less stressed. So I “delete with abandon,” knowing that a copy has been archived for future reference. Unfortunately, when I delete with abandon I sometimes lose references to mail conversations in progress. I want to go back and see exactly what somebody said a few messages back, so I’m forced to go to my mail archive and look it up.
No problem, right? Wrong. My mail archive is huge so Mail stutters and thrashes. This is because even though I only care about the message I just received a few minutes ago, it is preparing to show me the entire history of my email life.
Now for the punch line. Smart folders solves this problem! I added a “Recently Viewed” smart folder to Mail, which simply shows me any message I’ve looked at in the past 2 days. At first I tried “Recently Received” but discovered that it also showed me all of the spam I’d received. “Recently Viewed” is perfect, because it shows me stuff I’ve dredged up out of the past. It’s my Mail message working set!
I was so pleased by this that I also added a “Recently Sent” smart folder to do basically the same thing, but for messages that I’ve recently written to others. My only major complaint is that I can’t order the smart folders above my gigantic IMAP hierarchy. It’s a pain to navigate down the mailbox list to find them.