How to Create Smart Mailboxes on Your Mac

By Edward C. Baig

Welcome to the Mac’s email variation of 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’re tightly integrated with Spotlight search.

You can set up Smart Mailboxes as a way to organize all mail pertaining to a specific project or all mail from a specific person. You may want to create a Smart Mailbox containing all correspondence with your boss for the most current fortnight, for example. Mail older than two weeks is replaced by the latest exchanges.

Incidentally, the messages you see in a Smart Mailbox are virtual; they still reside in their original locations. In that sense, they’re similar to aliases.

To create a Smart Mailbox, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Mailbox →New Smart Mailbox.
  2. Use the pop-up menus and text fields to characterize the parameters of the mailbox.
    The process is similar to the one you follow when creating a rule. To add criteria, click the + button. To remove a condition, click the – button.
  3. When you’re finished, click OK.
smart mailbox
The smartest mailbox around.

If you delete an email while in a Smart Mailbox, that message will also be deleted in its original location.

You can create a duplicate of a Smart Mailbox by holding down the Control key while you click the Smart Mailbox in the Mail sidebar. Then choose Duplicate Smart Mailbox, an option that also appears on the Mailbox menu. Why do this? One possibility: You want to create a new Smart Mailbox that uses only slightly different criteria from the mailbox you’re duplicating.