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Reader Matt Cooper has taken a break from doing his civic duty to ask this question:

I’m looking for a way to take whole folders of email (from Mail) and converting them to text files as a way of archiving the messages, separate from the Mail program. For example, I’d like to end up with all of my messages from a given sender in one text file, rather than as just another mailbox folder. Is this possible?

It is. I’d do it this way:

Create a new mail folder and call it something like Messages from Mary. Now create a new mail rule that identifies mail from a particular sender and moves or copies that mail to the folder you just created. The rule would read something like:

If From contains then Copy Message to mailbox Messages from Mary

Select all the email that’s likely to contain messages from Mary, Control-click on the selected messages, and choose Apply Rules. Your Message to Mary rule will be applied and the appropriate messages will appear in the folder you created.

Now drag that folder to the Desktop to create an .mbox file.

Control-click on the .mbox file and choose Show Package Contents. In the resulting window drag the mbox file out to the Desktop. Open this file with a text editor (Apple’s TextEdit will do) to view your correspondence with Mary.

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