Software

How to clean up and organize macOS Mail

It's a good time of year to organize your Mac's Mail. With just a little effort, your mailboxes can be tidied up and ready for the new year.

apple-mail

Image: Apple, Inc.

The pace slows for many offices this time of year, which makes it a good opportunity to clean up macOS Mail.

I recommend reviewing all the accounts configured within macOS Mail to determine which ones are still needed. If any account is no longer required, remove it by clicking Mail from the top menu and selecting Accounts. Highlight the account that's no longer required and click the - icon.

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Image: Apple Inc.

Study the mailboxes within the accounts you'll use in 2018. Maintaining well-organized mailboxes will save time when you need to access old topics, and reduce the time required to decide which folders should receive which new messages.

SEE: Internet and Email usage policy (Tech Pro Research)

Determine whether you need all the mailboxes, or folders, that are present. Delete the mailboxes that can be removed, and consolidate those that can be combined with other folders.

Add new mailboxes by selecting Mailbox, clicking New Mailbox, specifying the new mail folder's location, entering a name for the new mailbox, and clicking OK. Or, you can create a Smart Mailbox, which collects messages from other folders based on criteria you specify. To create a Smart Mailbox, choose that option instead of New Mailbox and in the resulting menus and fields define the smart folder's elements.

Delete a mailbox by right-clicking the mailbox you wish to remove and selecting Delete Mailbox. macOS Mail will display a dialog box alerting you that deleting a mailbox permanently removes the mailbox and the messages the folder contains and confirms the action cannot be undone. Before clicking Delete to complete the removal operation, ensure you've moved any email messages you need to retain to a different mailbox or to your hard drive by exporting the mailbox (more on that topic in a moment).

Next, review any Recovered Messages folders and sort the messages you wish to retain and delete those you no longer need. Be sure to check Archive mailboxes, which doesn't remove mail from an account; instead, archiving a message in Mail prompts macOS to create an archive mailbox within the Mail sidebar for each account whose messages are archived and move the messages to those folders.

macOS does support exporting mailboxes, which places the folder's messages within an .mbox package in the disk or network location you specify. To export a mailbox, highlight the mailbox you wish to export, click Mailbox, and select Export Mailbox. Specify the location where the .mbox file should be stored, and then click Choose. Note: Exporting a mailbox doesn't remove the mailbox or the folder's messages from Mail.

SEE: Boost your Mac productivity with these 10 techniques (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

If you wish to retain a record of one or more messages, another option is to export those messages as a PDF. To export a message as a PDF in macOS Mail, highlight the selected message(s), click File, and select Export As PDF. Specify the location where the PDF(s) should be stored, and click the Save button.

Review and discard all Junk and Bulk Mail messages, and then purge the trash and deleted messages folders. Delete all mail you no longer require by right-clicking the respective folder and selecting Erase Deleted Items or Erase Junk Mail.

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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