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Apple’s Mail program has improved dramatically with each new iteration of Mac OS X; the version of Mail included with Leopard is no exception. Still, there are features heavy users of email miss, and ways in which you may find even the latest Mail wanting.
This week on Mac Gems, I’m going to cover some of my favorite add-ons and plug-ins for Mail—software that gives Mail new features, fills holes in its functionality, and generally makes it a more effective way to communicate.
I start today by revisiting Leopard-compatible updates to Mail tweaks I’ve already covered; later this week I’ll show you a number of new add-ons.
LetterBox 0.22 . One of the most popular Mail add-ons I’ve covered is LetterBox, which lets you move the preview pane from the bottom of Mail’s window to the right-hand side — a setup that uses the space on today’s widescreen displays more efficiently (and one that’s available on many competing email clients). Having the preview pane on the right also lets you preview more of each message, as well as see more messages in the current mailbox or folder. The current version of Letterbox works with Leopard’s version of Mail; in addition, unlike the version I covered back in 2006, Letterbox now lets you easily switch the preview pane between the bottom and right-hand positions. (The developer is currently working on an update that will provide a two-lines-per-message display in the message list, so you can see more information about each message.)
Mail Act-On 1.3.3 Public Beta . Back in November 2005, I reviewed Mail Act-On, a nifty plug-in for Mail that lets you invoke mail rules using the keyboard. This means that anything you can do with a rule in Mail—move, copy, forward, redirect, reply to, or delete a message; set the color or read/flagged status of a message; or even run an AppleScript—you can do via the keyboard using Mail Act-On. The current public beta, still in early development, lets Mail Act-On work with Leopard, although it adds no new features.
Mail Scripts 2.8.3 . Way back in 2004, I noted Mail Scripts, a set of AppleScripts for Mail that let you accomplish otherwise-difficult tasks. For example, you can use Mail Scripts to add all recipients of the current message to your address book, archive messages for backup or transfer, switch between SMTP servers, create rules based on the current message, remove duplicate messages, schedule messages to be sent at particular times, immediately send all Draft messages, open all mailboxes with new messages, apply rules to Sent messages, export contacts, and conduct complex searches of your address book. All these scripts now work with Leopard.
MailFollowup 1.2.1 and MailRecent 1.1 . Just over a year ago, I told you about MailFollowup and MailRecent.The former adds a new Followup item to Mail’s menus (and, optionally, to the toolbar) that lets you follow up on a previously-sent email message. Select a sent message and then choose this menu item, and a copy of the sent message will be opened. But this copy will contain the original email text in quoted form, including the date and time of the original message, making it clear that you’re following up on a previous email. MailRecent makes viewing and filing your mail easier by adding several new options to Mail’s menus: Move to Recent, Copy to Recent, and Go to Recent. The former two options are for managing your email: select a message and then mouse down to Messages: Move to Recent. The sub-menu will list any folders to which you’ve recently moved other messages; choose one and the message will be moved to that folder. Copy to Recent works similarly, except that a copy of the message will be created in the chosen folder; the original will remain in its current location. The third new option, Go to Recent, switches the main Mail window view to the folder you choose; like the other two new menus, its sub-menu is populated with those folders to which you’ve recently moved or copied a message. The developer of MailFollowUp and MailRecent has recently updated both add-ons for Leopard compatibility.
MailTags 2.2b4 . I covered MailTags back in early 2006. From the same developer as Mail Act-On, MailTags lets you tag messages with keywords or categories that you can then use in Spotlight searches or Smart Mailboxes. It also lets you add notes, priorities, and due dates to messages. The current beta version works with Mail in Leopard and adds its functionality to RSS articles when read in Mail.
MiniMail 1.1.1 . The most-recent mail add-on I covered, MiniMail is a nifty plug-in for Mail that lets you minimize the Mail window down to a much smaller version that displays on-the-fly previews of incoming email messages. You can also work with and respond to emails directly from this mini window. The latest version of MiniMail adds Leopard support as well as several minor features; it also fixes the minor issue with Mail's preferences window I noted in my original review.
Tune in later this week for coverage of several new Mail modifiers.