Save all Mail attachments to iPhoto

Here’s a simple Tuesday tip about a potentially confusing interface element in Mail (in both OS X 10.4 and 10.5). When you receive an e-mail with attachments, you’ll see a Save button, with a triangle drop-down indicator, in the header area of the message. Typically in OS X—in something like the Get Info window, the Save As dialog, or the or the Finder’s list view—a triangular indicator will react to a mouse click, expanding to show more details. In Mail, however, that’s not the case.

If you simply click the Save button, Mail will save all of that message’s attachments. But Mail can do more with attachments, as long as you know the secret: click and hold on the Save button, and a menu appears, listing each attached file’s name along with a Save As button. Select any individual file, and you’ll save just that attachment to disk. But the really nice feature is the final menu item—Add to iPhoto. That’s right; with one button click-and-hold, you can add all of a message’s attached images to iPhoto. There’s no selecting to be done here, however—choose this one, and all of the attached images are imported into iPhoto. Still, if you have relatives who are constantly sending updated kid pictures, this little menu can be a timesaver.

Why Mail must behave differently than every other OS X application that uses triangular disclosure indicators, I don’t know. But now that you know this feature is hiding there in plain sight, you may find it a useful time saver.

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