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Colorize emails by contact group in Apps
After migrating from Entourage to, I really missed the Entourage feature that emails from a contact belonging to a category (group) get the same category (group) color as the contact. But this is an easy task to do with's rules.

In my case, I created rules for every group in Adress Book, with these criteria:

Sender is member of group - [group name]
Action: Set Color - background - [color to use]

Unfortunately, only allows one to set either the background or the text color. Therefore, dark background colors are a bad choice as you won't see the black text anymore.

Another helpful rule is to set all emails from senders who are not in the Adress Book to a different color -- I chose light gray for the text color. Now I already have an idea from whom I receive an email without even reading the sender, and know at once if someone changed their email adress, which I haven't yet added to my Adress Book.

Of course, you can colorize your email after receiving, too, by selecting all the email and choosing "Apply Rules" from the contextual menu.
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Colorize emails by contact group in | 9 comments | Create New Account
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Colorize emails by contact group in
Authored by: bgagnon on Jul 19, '05 10:51:14AM

I wish you could remove coloring from messages.... This is currently impossible in Mail, except by creating a dummy rule setting background to white on all messages. What Mail needs are real organizing features. Coloring should be part of this. Entourage's Categories and Projects are still invaluable to me.

Note that MailTags (, currently in beta, aims to bring some of those to, along with nice support for Spotlight (smart mailboxes). Grab the source using subversion and compile in XCode, it works great.

But again, a third-party Plugin will never replace real support from Apple.

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Colorize emails by contact group in
Authored by: Anonymous on Jul 19, '05 04:19:25PM

In fact, you could remove coloring from messages.
Just select the message, press "cmd-shift-C" (Format menu) and select an empty box in the color window.

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Colorize emails by contact group in
Authored by: designbot on Jul 19, '05 01:15:07PM
1. This isn't a very good hint. Making a rule to set the color of messages is a simple, built-in, documented feature, which anyone could quickly find themselves by simply looking at the options in the Rules preference pane. In fact, one of the default rules, "News From Apple", sets the background color to blue. This rule stands out because its background in the list is also blue.

2. You can change the background color and the text color by making two separate rules.

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Colorize emails by contact group in
Authored by: wnorris on Jul 19, '05 01:20:02PM

agreed. what _would_ make this kinda cool though, is an applescript that would automatically do the color based on groups you've setup in AddressBook.

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Set color by AddressBook Group
Authored by: Aeschylus on Jul 19, '05 02:18:03PM
It is easy to set the color of an email from a member of a group in Address Book by setting up a rule: Sender is Member of Group, then selecting the group from the popup. This also works with Smart Groups. Pretty cool.

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Set color by AddressBook Group
Authored by: designbot on Jul 19, '05 03:43:34PM

I know. That's exactly what this hint says.

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Colorize emails by contact group in
Authored by: Mattherat on Jul 20, '05 03:02:52AM
ref. 1: I know that it is not a very special hint, but even if things are documented, that doesn't mean that everybody finds them or thinks about the benefit you can get out of them. And in my case I was happy to find a way to copy the category colorizing feature like in Entourage which I found quite useful. Apart from that, I am pretty sure that you will find loads of hints here, which are also documented features...
Anyway, nobody forces you to read it or to comment it...

ref. 2: Exactly this is what is not possible. If you had tried out before you comment, then you would have realized that setting the textcolor after the background color with a second rule, the change of the first rule will be undone. That is also the reason why you cannot set both colors in one rule.

If you further look into the AppleScript dictionary of you will find out that there is only one color rule which can either set text or background color (set through a boolean).

Message->rule->color message (color)
Message->rule->highlight text using color (boolean)

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Colorize emails by contact group in
Authored by: SwissFreek on Jul 21, '05 07:52:36AM

Well, maybe you're just a genious. I for one never thought of using the groups. I've been setting rules up based on individual email addresses. This group thing makes life a whole lot easier. Thanks you guys at MacOSXHints for the tip. Nice to know that someone understands that even though something may be documented, some of us have other things to attend to that prevent us from sitting and reading the program documentation from end to end. That's why you're here. To tell us little things we ourselves might have missed. Keep up the good work.

- Frank

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Colorize emails by contact group in
Authored by: Mattherat on Jul 21, '05 10:27:33PM

I did the same with individual rules for sorting my Emails into folders.
Since my migration to Mail, I keep all my mails in the inbox and sent folders and organize my emails with smart mailboxes using Smart Mailbox Folders with Group Smart Mailboxes
Unfortunately Mail does not allow to create rules like
From -> is contact -> contactname
Therfore, I have to add every email addres of the desired contact manually :-( (not very smart indeed)

A workaround would be to create a (smart) address group for every desired contact and a smart mailbox filtering the sender for this group, but this is much to unconvenieant in my opinion, especially it would clutter my neatly organized adressbook groups...

Hopefully, Mail will support that in future versions, should be no problem at all.

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