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Keep on top of client emails in Apps
As an active member of the Apple Consultants Network, part of my consultant practice involves responding to client questions via email in a timely manner. Obviously, some messages are more urgent than others, so when I'm balancing onsite appointments and other work with responding to email, I often don't respond to messages chronologically. This can cause some messages to fall through the cracks if they don't require (or I can't provide) an immediate response.

A combination of Address Book groups, Spotlight, and Smart Mailboxes allows me to stay on top of client emails.
  1. Create a group in Address Book (e.g. "Clients") and add all the corresponding contacts to it.
  2. Create a new Smart Mailbox in Mail for messages that matches All of the following conditions: Sender is Member of Group [e.g. Clients]; and Date Received is in the last 7 days.
  3. Now, here's the cool part. From the View menu, select Sort By: Message Status. All messages that you have replied to will be at the top of the list, sorted reverse-chronologically. Messages you have not replied to will be at the bottom. Now click the Message Status column heading (the dot that should be highlighted already) to reverse the sort order. Messages that you have not replied to will be listed at the top of the list, oldest first.
Go down the list and check for messages that may need a response. Many of the messages listed at the top will not need a reply. But after a week, they drop off the list -- keeping it manageable without any effort on my part. As long as I don't wait longer than a week to respond to a message in need of a response, nothing slips through the cracks!
  • Currently 2.50 / 5
  You rated: 2 / 5 (4 votes cast)

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Keep on top of client emails in
Authored by: jmao on Mar 20, '06 08:32:53AM

I use a similar method to track my mail. What I addded to this process is a mail filter that flags messages that are sent by members of the "client" group. My SmartMailbox displays flagged messages and unread messages. This allows me to manually unflag a message when I'm satisfied I've dealt with it allowing it to drop out of that mailbox or flag a message to keep it current if that sender isn't already in the "client" group.

In addition, I've got lots of other groups that are flagged, etc,...but more importantly, I have a filter that changes the background color of any message that isn't identified by any of my many filters. This helps me quickly note messages which may have come from a new sender. This makes it easier for me to see senders that may need to be added to my addressbook and/or to a group.

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Keep on top of client emails in
Authored by: dihakz on Mar 20, '06 09:49:36AM

How do you do that? (Change background colors of those emails which did not get caught by any other rule.)


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Keep on top of client emails in
Authored by: pub3abn on Mar 20, '06 12:07:49PM

In Preferences -> Rules, look under "Perform the following actions:" -> "Set Color of Message".

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Keep on top of client emails in
Authored by: jiclark on Mar 20, '06 06:24:38PM

Related question:

How do you remove the color from a message that somehow has gotten a colored subject?? I don't know if the message arrived colored, or whether I did it somehow myself, but I can't figure out how to 'uncolor' it!

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Keep on top of client emails in
Authored by: ClassicUser on Mar 20, '06 08:53:40PM

Bring up the "Show Colors" utility window (Format -> Show Colors, or Cmd-Shift-C), then assign a neutral color to the message - probably, White. This is easiest via the "List" picker, Apple set (3rd icon in).

No fear: Mail is not exactly intuitive in this area...

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I recommend Mail Act-On and Mail Tags
Authored by: lujo on Mar 20, '06 12:15:32PM

It sounds like you use email A LOT and have many things to track within Mail. I have to recommend Mail Act-On and Mail Tags (available from Using these allows one to add notes, keywords, due dates, tasks (integrated with iCal), and many other helpful features. These are added as metadata to each message so they can also be used as criteria for Smart Mailboxes, rules and criteria in searches, all making for some very neat and customizable functionality.

I use notes so that I can tell myself how to respond to a message even if I don't have the time or all the resources available at the moment. It saves me the energy of reading messages again to find out what to do. I've just found these two plug-ins to be huge timesavers and great assets.

And no I'm not the developer, just a very happy user!

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Another vote for Mail Act-On and MailTags
Authored by: yoel on Mar 20, '06 07:52:02PM

I have a similar system, except that it doesn't require an address book group. The system is that the only emails in my inbox are ones that require an action or response from me. All other emails are moved to an archive folder and optionally tagged with a project name. (Mail Act-On and MailTags make it really simple to set up keyboard shortcuts to do this.) The goal is that at any time there shouldn't be more than 10 emails in my inbox, making it easy to stay on top of what I need to do.

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