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Take Control of Apple Mail in Snow Leopard
May 06, 2010

Take Control of Apple Mail in Snow Leopard

Learn the basics and go under the hood with Mail in Snow Leopard!

Are you using Apple Mail in Snow Leopard effectively? In this book, author Joe Kissell provides comprehensive guidance. Perhaps you just want to fully understand the basics of receiving, composing, and sending email. Or maybe you want to master many advanced options—including account set up, integrating multiple accounts, formatting, rules, and MobileMe syncing. Either way, you’ll find helpful advice and detailed steps. You’ll also find tips on various third-party add-ons that make Mail smarter and more enjoyable to use.

More Info

This book will teach you to:

Comprehend account options: You’ll understand the difference between POP and IMAP, plus learn about special aspects of MobileMe, Exchange, and Gmail accounts. In the case of Exchange and especially Gmail, you’ll also learn how to integrate them into your overall Mail setup. Joe also covers Mail’s integration with MobileMe syncing.

Read: Okay, we expect you know how to read, but you’ll learn efficient ways to quickly open, read, process, and file your messages. You’ll also get tips on handling incoming attachments, avoiding spam, and using Mail’s built-in RSS feed reader.

Write and send: You’ll learn different methods for quickly addressing your email, how to take control of the From, To, Cc, and Bcc lines, and how to create multiple signatures. You’ll also find out about how to address a single message to a group of recipients, and how to know if you should use digital signatures or encryption, plus what to do if you want to send a message with a digital signature or encryption.

Find your stuff: You’ll get advice on how to organize Mail’s sidebar and your various mailboxes so you can easily locate messages using a variety of techniques. Joe covers simple features—such as making a new mailbox or rearranging your mailboxes—as well as advanced techniques—such as creating rules and smart mailboxes.

Use Notes and To Dos: Mail has a Notes feature for leaving yourself reminders and a To-Do feature that integrates with iCal. Learn the strengths and limitations of these options and make them work for you.

Unravel Mail mysteries: Understand the sometimes-present Outbox, sort out the Dock unread count, learn why smart addresses can be stupid, avoid “unsafe” addresses, manage the Previous Recipients list, wrangle attachments, find your notes, and determine why certain mailboxes appear in particular categories on Mail’s sidebar.

Avoid and fix problems: Get advice on how to back up your email, and find out how to restore it from a backup. The ebook has 11 pages of hard-won troubleshooting advice.

What's New

What's New in Apple Mail 4

The version of Mail included with Snow Leopard (4.x) looks superficially much like the version that shipped with Leopard, but it has many changes. Among them are:

  • Better Exchange support: Mail now uses Microsoft’s Exchange Web Services to communicate with Exchange servers, providing a number of benefits. See Exchange.
  • Improved Data Detectors: Among other things, Data Detectors can now find and use flight data. See Use Data Detectors.
  • Keyboard shortcuts for filing messages: You can now assign keyboard shortcuts to commands on the Message > Move To and Copy To submenus. See File and Organize Messages.
  • New text handling features: Mail makes use of the new Substitutions and Transformations features in Snow Leopard. See Snow Leopard’s New Text Tricks.
  • Reorderable mailboxes: You can now arrange your mailboxes in any order—not just alphabetically. See Arrange Your Mailboxes.

What’s New in This Edition

In this edition, I cover new features found in the Snow Leopard version of Mail, Mail 4. You can see a list of those features in Learn What’s New in Snow Leopard Mail. In addition to Snow Leopard-specific features, I added quite a bit of new material that the previous edition, Take Control of Apple Mail in Leopard, doesn’t have, including:



  • Gmail and IMAP: I’ve dramatically expanded the instructions for using Mail with a Gmail account via IMAP. See Use IMAP with Gmail.
  • Dock unread count: I’ve added a sidebar about modifying the badge on Mail’s Dock icon that indicates unread messages. See Changing the Dock Unread Count.
  • Navigation: I now discuss techniques for moving between messages more efficiently, especially when using the keyboard. See Navigating between Messages.
  • Message highlighting: The section Follow Message Threads now includes information on how Mail highlights messages in the same thread, even when Organize By Thread turned off.
  • Filing messages: Remedying a shocking omission from all former versions of this book, I now explicitly discuss the mechanics of filing messages into user-created mailboxes—manually or automatically. See File and Organize Messages.
  • Smart addresses: A new Smart Addresses sidebar explains why smart addresses aren’t very smart, and what to do about it.
  • Safe addresses: I explain how Mail can call attention to potentially misaddressed messages before you send them in Highlighting “Unsafe” Addresses.
  • Previous recipients: The section Handle Previous Recipients has more information about the Previous Recipients list and how to make it behave.
  • Add-ons: I go into more detail about some of my favorite third-party Mail add-ons. See Take Control of Your Attachments, Follow up on a Message You Sent, Rocketbox, and Running Rules on Command.
  • Digital signatures and encryption: I’ve added an entirely new, and rather lengthy, section about signing and encrypting messages using Mail. See Sign and Encrypt Messages.
  • The outbox: I explain this important but seldom-seen mailbox in Mail. See About Out.
  • Update Plans

    We don’t plan to update this ebook to say more about Mail in 10.6 Snow Leopard. We have created several ebooks about Mail in later versions of Mac OS X, so please look in the Take Control catalog or use the Search field to find them, if you’d like to purchase a newer title.

    Posted by Tonya Engst

    1. What to Do If A New Email Message Is Completely Black

      Apple has posted a Knowledge Base article detailing a problem with generating Mail messages after installing Safari 5 on a system running the latest version of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or 10.6 Snow Leopard. When you start an email message in Mail using some other program to get the ball rolling, the new message may have black text on a black background, rendering it unreadable.

      [This problem was fixed in Safari 5.1. —Tonya 27-Oct-2010]

      For full information see Apple’s article about the problem.

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    2. Mail Tips and Musings from Joe Kissell

      Find out what Joe thinks about changes in the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard version of Apple Mail and with the topic of email generally. In MacVoices #1076, Joe joins host Chuck Joiner to chat about what’s new in the world of handling spam, how to use Google Apps to manage multiple email addresses within a single Gmail account, compromises and changes that Apple made to Mail in order to turn it into an app for an iDevice, and more.

      Joe also talks about what’s new in his Mail-related ebooks that were released in May of 2010—Take Control of Apple Mail in Snow Leopard, Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail, and Take Control of Mail on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    3. Read Your Email on Multiple Computers

      In MacVoices #1065, Joe Kissell talks with host Chuck Joiner about two core email concepts - the POP and IMAP protocols. In particular, he explains how IMAP makes it possible to work with your email messages from more than one computer in a fluid, sensible manner. He also gives tips for switching from POP to IMAP and for using IMAP in popular email systems, including Gmail and MobileMe accounts, the Mail program on a Macintosh, the Mail app on an iPhone or iPod touch, and he discusses how the Gmail approach to storing, searching, and labeling email messages can sometimes be “hyper-weird.” Joe also talks about how spam filtering can work with IMAP accounts.

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    The Author

    Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control books. He also runs Interesting Thing of the Day and is a contributing editor of TidBITS and a senior contributor to Macworld.