Turn email into reminders

Reader Cynthia Nakano needs a more streamlined way to create reminders. She writes:

I’m running Mountain Lion on my MacBook Air and I often receive email messages that I can’t deal with at that moment but wish to act on later. I’ve tried flagging these messages but I sometimes receive so much email that my flags get lost in the shuffle. Any hints?

I can provide two. One harkens back to the old days and the other is something newish and coolish.

The Old Days method is to simply make sure that the Flags column appears in your mailboxes (choose View -> Columns -> Flags if you don’t see such a column) and then click on that column. All your flagged items will move to the top of the message list. You can then deal with them as you like.

A more modern way to nudge yourself is to use the Reminders application. Just launch Reminders, select an email message from within one of Mail’s mailboxes, and drag it to one of the headings within Reminders—Work or Home, for example. When you do, a new reminder is created that bears the subject heading of the email message—Lunch on Thursday, for instance. As with any other reminder you create, you can then set this one to pop up at a particular date and time. If you need some reminding about the purpose of your reminder, just click on the Show in Mail link that appears below your reminder’s name. That message will open in Mail.

What makes this new-ish is the fact that you could do something similar in Lion. Of course Lion doesn’t have a Reminders application, but it does have iCal. In this case, you’d drag an email message to a day in an iCal calendar, where it then turns into an event. To set it up as a reminder, just attach an alarm to it. Snow Leopard offers a similar feature, though the message header doesn’t appear as the event’s title but rather what appears to be a random string of characters.

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