Managing the Flood of Incoming E-Mail on Your Mac
The little red balloon on the Mail icon on the dock indicates the number of unread messages demanding your attention. New emails arrive as a matter of course through the Internet. You can click the Get Mail button on the Mail toolbar to hasten the process.
Single-click an incoming message to read it in the lower pane of the Mail window, or double-click the message to read it in its own window.
Choosing what to read
As you pore through said inbox, you'll probably notice mail from companies, online clubs, or Web sites you might have expressed an interest in. Most of the mail you get from these outfits is presumably A-OK with you. You're also going to read all the emails you get from colleagues, friends, and family.
That leaves email from just about everyone else, and it likely falls into one of three buckets. These categories fit most people's definition of junk mail, or spam:
- Email that tries to sell you something
- Email that tries to scam you
- Email that's pornographic
Opening mail from strangers
Cyberspace has a lot of misfits and creeps. They're up to no good. You can learn a lot from the subject line. If it refers to someone you know or what you do, it's probably safe to open the message. If the greeting is generic — Dear Wells Fargo Customer; Get Out of Debt Now — be a lot more cautious. Ditto if there's no subject line or you see gross misspellings.
If a sender turns out to be a decent business prospect or your new best friend, you can always add him or her to your Address Book.
Handling junk mail
If senders turn out to be bad news, you can sully their reputation — at least on your own computer. Throw their mail into the junk pile. It's easy: Just click Junk on the message toolbar.
Marking messages happens to be your way of training the Mail program in what you consider spam. Apple updates its databases accordingly. The company flags potentially objectionable mail by highlighting messages with a brown tinge. Click Not Junk in the message if Apple applies the junk label to the innocent.
You can do your part to eliminate spam too. Spammers are resourceful and can get your email address through various methods:
- They use automated software robots to guess at nearly every possible combination of addresses.
- They watch what you're doing. Do you fill out online sweepstakes forms? There's a winner, all right, the spammer.
- Do you hang out in chat rooms and Internet newsgroups? Bingo.
- Do you post messages in a public forum? Gotcha again.
Potent as Apple is at filtering spam, you can set up your own filters, or rules, for combating junk. To set up a rule, follow these steps:
1. Choose Mail --> Preferences, and then click the Rules tab.
2. Select Add Rules to open the rules pane.
3. Choose parameters identifying which messages are affected by the rule.
4. Choose parameters for what happens to those messages.
5. Click OK.
Using smart mailboxes
Welcome to the email variation of dynamic smart folders, smart mailboxes. Just as smart folders are constantly on the prowl for new items that match specific search criteria, smart mailboxes do the same. They are tightly integrated with Tiger's Spotlight search technology.
Follow these steps to create a smart mailbox:
1. Choose Mailbox --> New Smart Mailbox.
2. Use the pop-up menus and text fields to characterize the parameters of the mailbox.
3. When you're finished, click OK.
With an assist from Spotlight, the Mac's fast and comprehensive search system, you can find a specific email messages, or the content of those messages, in a jiffy:
- To search an open message, choose Edit --> Find and type the text you're looking for.
- You can also enter a search term in the search box at the upper-right portion of the Mail program screen. Use the All Mailboxes, Entire Messages, From, To, or Subject headers (which appear only when you've entered a search) to determine how to display the results.
You already discovered how to send attachments. But now the tide has shifted, and someone sends you one (or more). Attachments appear with an icon in the body of the message.
You have the following choices:
- Drag the icon onto the desktop or a Finder window.
- Double-click the icon, and the attachment should open in the program designed to handle it (for example, Word for a Word file or Preview for an image).
- Click Save to save the file to a particular destination on your computer.