Many of us live and die by email, and because we do it makes sense to organize that email so that you can quickly find the messages you need. One way to organize email is to create filters or rules to automatically file it as it’s received. In this week’s Macworld Video I show you how to do just that.

Download Macworld Video #163

• Format: MPEG-4/H.264

• Resolution: 480 x 272 (iPhone & iPod compatible)

• Size: 7 MB

• Length: 5 minutes, 52 seconds

Show Notes

In this video I specifically addressed Apple’s Mail email client, but all email clients have some kind of rule or filter capability built in. Of course if you have an account that lives largely on the Web—a Gmail account, for example—you can create filters within the Web client rather than in the email client on your Mac. (Though there’s no harm in doing both.)

Transcript (approximate):

Today I’m going to show you a couple of ways to create useful filters for Mail. With these filters—or Rules, as Mail calls them—your Mac will automatically sort your email as it’s received.

We’ll start by creating a new local mailbox. Click on the Plus button at the bottom of the window and in the New Mailbox sheet select On My Mac. We’ll name this one From Chris.

Now we’ll create a simple rule by opening Mail’s Preferences, clicking on Rules, and then clicking Add Rule. We’ll call the rule From Chris and configure it to read If Any From Contains Christopher Breen, move message to mailbox, From Chris.

Click OK and you’ll be offered the opportunity to apply the rule. Let’s click Apply to see what happens. Sure enough, messages from me are moved to this person’s From Chris mailbox. If I send a message to this account the message will be automatically filed in the From Chris mailbox.

Wonderful as it might be to have a mailbox set up for just mail from a specific individual, you can of course do this more broadly. For instance, you might create a rule that looks for messages from a particular organization—I might use From Contains, for instance, to file all the mail I receive from my colleagues.

Rules needn’t contain just one condition. You can add more. For example, let’s add another rule that takes any really important messages addressed from me, moves them to another mailbox, and colors them red.

Let’s look at one more way you can broadly filter email—through the creation of a white list. To do that create a folder called “Unknown to me” and configure a rule that reads Sender Is Not in my Address Book. Any incoming messages from people who aren’t in your address book will be diverted to this folder. Of course if you want some of these messages to appear in your inbox, just add the sender to your address book.

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