I didn’t have much chance to do anything with Tiger last week while I was on the road, but this morning I finally started playing with Smart Mailboxes in Mail, which is one of the features I most eagerly anticipated for this upgrade. And it is fantastic, even with just one or two smart mailboxes created.
Originally I had anticipated replacing some of my 150+ mail rules (I have a hierarchical mail folder structure that takes a lot of care and feeding) with smart mailboxes. While I may still investigate doing that, I found that the first smart mailbox I implemented is probably the most useful one I’ll create: Unread Mail. The mailbox has a single condition: collect all unread mail messages. This is great for me because of all the mail rules I’ve implemented, which spread a typical day’s mail across a bunch of different mailboxes. That’s generally a good thing for scoping messages for later retrieval, but less good if I just want to read my 30 or so new mail messages at one sitting without changing context between ten different folders. The Unread Mail smart folder allows me to just read all the mail without worrying about filing it, because it’s already filed. I used a system like this on Outlook when I was running Office 2003 at Microsoft, and that folder plus one for flagged mail completely revolutionized my workflow.
I’ll be playing around with some more smart mailboxes in days to come, including one for recent messages (everything sent or received within the last week). It’s nice to have some tools that actually improve my productivity.