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10.4: Build complex booleans in Mail with Smart Folders
Authored by: derPlau on Jul 12, '05 01:26:24PM

One note about this hint: I tried this idea right after Tiger was released, and it didn't seem to work, so I gave up on it.

The problem was that the criteria in the third Smart Folder (the one that combines the other two with an Or -- the equivalent of CocoaMailingList in the original entry) always changed themselves to the equivalent of Cocoa || Cocoa. In other words, even though I originally set the criteria to:

Is in mailbox "Cocoa" Or Is in mailbox "Cocoa2"

Mail always seemed to switch them to:

Is in mailbox "Cocoa" Or Is in mailbox "Cocoa"

which obviously just gave me the same messages as in the original Cocoa mailbox, and none of the ones in Cocoa2.

I assumed this was just a bug and hoped it would be fixed with 10.4.1. When it wasn't, I looked a bit closer, and discovered what the bug is.

My problem originated with the fact that I'd made my second mailbox (Cocoa2) by duplicating the first (Cocoa) -- i.e., by option-dragging Cocoa within the mailbox panel. (I did this because I have several junk and mailing-list folders that I didn't want to include in either Cocoa or Cocoa2, so rather than re-enter all of those for both mailboxes I just copied the whole Smart Mailbox).

As it turns out, when you duplicate a Smart Mailbox, Mail duplicates it perfectly -- including the supposedly-unique MailboxID entry in the plist file. So, even though I changed my Cocoa2 mailbox to a new set of criteria, it had the same MailboxID as the original Cocoa mailbox. Apparently, when you make a Smart Mailbox (like CocoaMailingList) that has "In Mailbox X" as one of its criteria, that criterion is saved in the plist file as "Mailbox Is Equal to MailboxID". Since the MailboxIDs of both the mailboxes CocoaMailingList was looking into were identical, it only looked in the first mailbox it found with that ID.

The bottom line here is, if you're combining Smart Mailboxes in the way suggested by the original hint, don't make any of the mailboxes by duplicating already-existing mailboxes. In fact, you should probably avoid duplicating Smart Mailboxes altogether to avoid unpredictable effects of having duplicate MailboxID's.

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