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Customizing mail.app messages Apps
Apple's mail.app stores most of the text strings it uses for creating replies, displaying dialogs, and composing new messages in an easy-to-edit text file. If you haven't relocated your mail.app, you can find the text file here:
/Applications/Mail.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/Compose.strings
When I tried to edit this in the terminal, all I got was gibberish - it's a Unicode text file. Opening and saving it in the GUI works fine; you just have to use a control-click on mail.app to "Show Package Contents" in a new Finder window, and specify which application to open it with (I used TextEdit).

Amazingly enough, the text file is even commented, explaining what each line does. You'll have to do some work to change the default reply string ("On March 23, robg wrote..."), as the date format strings are all variables - I imagine they match those used by the system date command, which you can view in the man pages:
man strftime
Have fun customizing, but you should probably make a backup copy of the unmodified file first -- just in case! Any changes made take effect on the next launch of mail.app.

This tip was posted to the X4U mailing list by a member of Apple's mail team.

Panther update: As noted in the comment below, you now need to edit /System -> Library -> Framework -> Message.framework -> Resources -> English.lproj -> Message.strings. In addition, you'll have to reboot after making the change to see it take effect.
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Variable names
Authored by: danial on Jul 16, '02 04:33:53AM

What are the names of the variables to change these things you speak of. I had a look at the file you suggested, and it certainly does look like I can customise these things, but the date fields and "quoting" fields aren't anywhere to be seen?

I really want to change the default reply to string. It is set to a single '>' character and everyone I email is complaining that it should be a '> ' (note the space).



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Customizing mail.app messages
Authored by: biggyfishy on Nov 05, '03 11:19:09PM

This changed in Jaguar, and then again in Panther. Wish I'd discovered how months ago, but the relevant strings are now stored in (for English localisation):

/System/Library/Frameworks/Message.framework/Versions/B/Resources/English.lproj/Message.strings

Unfortunately they are now less customisable in Panther.



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Customizing mail.app messages
Authored by: c|ever on Jul 04, '05 06:51:03PM

anyone know how to do this in Tiger?



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Customizing mail.app messages
Authored by: vpolley on Aug 09, '05 01:35:57PM

To change the replying-to-quotation message (e.g., the "On Aug 9, 2005, at 10:18, Mary Smith wrote:" insert) in Tiger:
1. Quit Apple Mail;
2. Find the file Delayed.strings on your computer;
3. Open Delayed.Strings with TextEdit;
4. Search for "wrote:"
5. Make changes (personally, I prefer "On Aug 9, 2005, at 10:18, Ward Mary Smith apparently wrote:");
6. Save changes and over-write Delayed.strings
7. Restart



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Leopard
Authored by: etatoby on Dec 05, '08 02:15:17AM

This is the file to edit in Leopard:

/System/Library/Frameworks/Message.framework/Resources/English.lproj/Delayed.strings

Remember to backup before, and restart after the change.



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