Is Apple Mail really this hard?

I played around with thunderbird a few months ago and liked it, but the lack of AppleScript support was a deal killer.


If I try this, I only get the little tone telling me, it is not working?

To clarify, do you hear the system alert when you press Command+Shift+/ or when you select one of the search results?

When I press the combination.
This shortcut is, for some unknown reason, not working for me within Mail.

@Ulli – The Mac keyboard shortcut to open the Help menu (and put the cursor in the search box) is actually Shift+Command+?.

CleanShot 2022-09-02 at 06.22.59

This translates to Shift+Command+/ on a US keyboard, but will vary according to the keyboard layout.

Beyond this use case in Mail, I find this keyboard shortcut very helpful for quickly locating menu commands that I don’t use very often and for providing keyboard access to those that don’t have a keyboard shortcut.


I have to move messages out of the inbox into project folders. I don’t function well keeping everything in the inbox and depending on search options. This is especially true when I need to review all messages associated with a given project and the messages originate from different people, each have their own subject line, and each have arrived at different points in time.


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Lots of input and good information, all of which is much appreciated.

I’m a big Apple fan, but this is so typical Apple - Our way, irregardless of what our users may want.

Trouble is, you have to input the entire path for this to work. You can’t go directly to a subfolder.

Multiple good points in regard to using folders/labels (in addition to search.) Also, search sometimes fails. For instance if I search for “Physical Therapy,” but two years ago I was writing it as “PT” the “Physical Therapy” search likely won’t help. Personally, I need to both file and search. I am moving a little bit toward the bucket approach, though, using fewer subfolders.

I have to use Microsoft products to some extent because of the need to interface with various corporate environments, but, in an effort to avoid further complexity, I stick with Apple stuff as much as possible. Also, frankly, I’m prejudiced against Microsoft. I used Windows in the bad old days, when it was extremely trouble prone, and I’m still not over it.

Setting up a bunch of new filters in Gmail would be moving in the wrong direction for me. I’m trying to get away from Gmail.

If I give up on Apple Mail, Thunderbird may be my best option. I’ve used it off and on for years.


:slightly_smiling_face: I love this quote.

Perhaps David and Stephen could revisit the topic of moving from Windows to Mac and go beyond the purely technical steps to consider the psychological damage that folks might be dealing with! :cry: :upside_down_face: :slightly_smiling_face:

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None of us are over it.


+1 for Mailmate, I use nested folders one per client and then nested into a specific project. As mentioned clients often use multiple addresses and people so a folder system makes sense. Mailmate also allows a lot of this to be automated via rules and smart mailboxes.

I simply delete a lot of mail, receipts, invoices are printed to DevonThink but so much stuff we really do not need to keep, so I now delete it. I also archive mail in MailArchiverX every year for the previous plus one so in January coming I will archive all saved mail from 2021.

I use Apple Mail on iPad and phone as it pretty much is OK for those device needs. My one pet peeve is its signature handling on iOS which is patchy at best.

Recent Thunderbird problems with Gmail
It appears that there has been quite a bit of friction between Thunderbird and Gmail recently, giving me pause regarding trying Thunderbird. I’ll need an email client that works with Gmail because it will take a long time to complete the switchover.

I don’t use gmail, but reading through the thread it looks like it’s just a matter of clearing existing passwords and turning on OAUTH2.

Another problem with Apple Mail is that after the first folder/label is placed on a email, it is relatively hard to place additional labels/folders on the same email.

I’m not sure what clearing existing passwords involves (Will I have to change my Gmail passwords?), and I’m not familiar with OAUTH2. I’m cautious enough to want to wait awhile to make sure that all of this is working for people.

Further on the subject of Thunderbird is there an efficient process for filing the same email in multiple folders?

The second post in the thread that you linked above explains how to do it. It just a matter of clearing the passwords saved in Thunderbird, then turning on OAUTH2.

If I recall, Gmail uses labels to give the functionality of folders, which is why an email can appear to be in multiple folders. Thunderbird has tags that could be used in a similar manner. It also has folders, and messages can be moved or copied to them.

There’s no rule that says you can’t use both apps for whatever you think they are best at. I use Apple Mail to read and respond to my email out of habit. This is on both iOS and Mac. However, I have the Gmail app running on my phone and that’s better at sending notifications immediately when an email is received.


I think there’s some confusion here: folders and labels are concepts that are mutually exclusive:

Folders are for one email → one storage place, for instance, Exchange or IMAP
Labels are for one email → multiple views appearing in many places (database pointer or shortcut), for instance, Gmail

You’re going to have to decide which method you want to use. Largely, that’s going to depend on which email account you use.

If you’re on Gmail, you’re going to be using labels only. I’d use eM Client in that case, for all it’s faults, because they use a database like Gmail does, so eM Client can utilize Gmail labels naturally instead of folder-based storage options (mbox or maildir) like Thunderbird does.

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On Gmail, the labels look like folders, and evidently the use of labels is what makes it so easy to file emails in one, or more “folders.” Otherwise, I don’t see the difference to the user. I don’t see any advantage to using “real” folders or why they would be preferred to labels.

If I understand JohnAtl correctly, Thunderbird works the same way as Gmail in regard to labels/tags, but has “real” folders in addition.

I was trying to say, that you either use folders or you use labels and that is determined by which email provider you use. Gmail uses labels, they don’t use folders at all. My email service is fastmail and they don’t support labels when you use an email client. If you use their web interface you can pick. But only there.

Thunderbird does not support labels at all, they only use folders.