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How to Compose Messages in Mountain Lion Mail

For Macs, the easiest and best mail reader around (meaning the best one on your hard drive by default) is almost certainly Mail, which comes with OS X Mountain Lion. Of course, you can’t beat the price; it’s free!

Here’s how to create a new e-mail message:

  1. Choose File→New Message, click the New button on the toolbar, or press Command+N.

    A new window appears. This is where you compose your e-mail message.

    image0.jpg
  2. Place your cursor in the To field, and type someone’s e-mail address.

    If the recipient is in your Contacts, just type a few letters, and Mail’s intelligent autocomplete function matches it up with Contacts. So, for example, type the letters b-a-r, and a list of people in your Contacts with bar in their names — namely, Barack Obama and Barry the Electrician — appeared.

    You can select a name by clicking it, typing an additional letter or letters to narrow the search (typing an r would leave only Barry the Electrician; typing an a would leave only Barack Obama), or using the arrow keys and pressing Return or Enter.

  3. Press the Tab key twice to move your cursor to the Subject text field and type a subject for this message.

  4. Click in the main message portion of the window, and type your message there.

  5. When you’re finished writing your message, click the Send button to send the e-mail immediately, or close it to save it in the Drafts mailbox so you can work on it later.

    If you save your message to the Drafts mailbox (so you can write more later, perhaps), you can send it when you’re ready by opening the Drafts mailbox, double-clicking the message, and then clicking the Send button.

Just for the record, here’s what the buttons in the toolbar in the figure are all about:

  • Send: D’oh. Sends the message.

  • Attach: Opens a standard Open File sheet so you can pick a file or files to enclose with this message. To enclose multiple files, hold down the Command key as you click each file you want to enclose.

    If the recipients of this message use Windows, you probably want to select the Send Windows-Friendly Attachments check box at the bottom of the Open File sheet.

  • Format: Shows or hides the Formatting toolbar, which is showing (between the toolbar and the To field) in the figure.

  • Photo Browser: Opens the Photo Browser panel, which displays the photos in your iPhoto library and lets you drag and drop them into a mail message.

  • Show Stationery: Opens a sheet with a selection of stationery you can use for your e-mail message.

  • The little arrow thingie to the left of the From pop-up menu: This little doohickey is actually a pop-down menu that lets you add fields to your message header. What fields? Glad you asked. . . . You can choose CC Address Field, BCC Address Field, Reply-To Address Field, or Priority Field.

    Or if you choose Customize, you see all the available fields with check boxes next to them so you can turn them on or off at will.

    Changes you make using this menu become defaults. In other words, if you add a BCC field to this message, all subsequent messages also have a BCC field.

If you don’t see text labels for the items in your toolbar, choose View→Customize Toolbar. The Customize Toolbar sheet appears in front of the active window; choose Icon and Text from the Show menu in its lower-left corner.

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