Learning to Master and "Love" Apple Mail

Like many on this forum I have gone back and forth between email clients trying to find the “perfect” app. For most of us, there is no “perfect” email app so we settle. That is my situation. The closest I’ve come for my needs and work flow is Spark but it doesn’t make the grade for several reasons. Consequently, I’m still using the default Mail app. This has and is forcing me to MASTER ALL of its capabilities and learning to “love” it.

I certainly cannot speak for anyone on this forum but for me, being forced to use Mail has caused me to discovere features that either I did not know existed or had forgotten. One of the more obvious, that one would think I would have paid more attention to but did not, is the column view with bottom preview. This, in combination with multiple Smart Mailboxes, flags, rules, etc., make Mail an adequate email client on the Mac, less so on iOS/iPadOS, but still serviceable. All things considered, I still find Mail, with all of its shortcomings, better for my workflow needs and integrations than third party clients. Of all of the clients I’ve tried, Mail is also the most stable and reliable, and obviously, the most integrated in the Apple ecosystem.


Alternate title:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mail

My hand has recently been forced by my uni’s dropping support for classic two-factor authentication. So I too am finding Mail adequate, and learning to work it into my workflows. The thing that is sorely missing (or I’m sorely missing it) is Share functionality, or even just getting a link to an email (one of today’s tasks is to investigate this, as it sounds familiar). At the moment, I’m sending emails to DEVONthink, to be processed somehow (workflow TBD).

This at least constrains me to one client. (Well, my uni supports Thunderbird, Pine, Elm, and Outlook, of course, but I’m not interested in open sores or antique email).


Bonus points for the Stanley Kubrick reference. :+1:


Yes, that is my main pain point as well. It is very frustrating that Apple has not implemented this. I can only assume there is a technical reason for it. By that I do not mean that it’s not possible – it obviously is - but there must be something about using a share functionality in Apple mail that they are avoiding. Perhaps it has to do with keeping it simple for the average consumer. I have no idea. But it is a major weakness of the application. My workaround, is drag and drop. DEVONthink enables one to have a DEVONthink inbox in the finder. I can easily drag an email into that or into the menu icon for DEVONthink. I also blind copy Things when I want to connect an email directly to a task. All of this is workable, but not ideal and clearly limited.


One of the reasons I don’t use Mail is it’s inability to store mail elsewhere and its insistence to download all email. I don’t mind downloading all the email, but as someone that got the base model Mac Mini, I wouldn’t mind offloading it’s storage on to a second drive! At the minute I’m using Postbox, as this is supported by Hook and does allow me to save emails to an external drive.

If my Uni resorts to changing the two factor authentication, I imagine I’ll have to bite the bullet and clear some space and change. I guess the alternative is to save emails to Eaglefiler and delete them from the server.


OMG. I never realized this.

I’ve just cut my unread email by a bucket load simply by being able to view in columns, sort by sender, and deleting en masse. Where has this view been hiding all this time???




There’s a DEVONthink plugin for Mail too. I have mine set for ^D, and Archive set to ^A. So a couple of quick keystrokes and an email is sent to DEVONthink and archived.


I purchased a base model 2018 Mac mini, with128GB storage. It’s primary use is a home server, but because it backs up my email, notes, iCloud and other apps that keep their files in the Library managing everything became a problem.

My solution was to move my entire home folder to an external Samsung T7 SSD. Performance seems to be equal to the internal SSD which is now used for OS and Applications only.

Don’t forget to backup before trying this.


According to Apple the iCloud for the Photos only works on the internal drive. Since the entire user directory witch includes the Photos Library I am wandering if iCloud will still work.

This is the view I’ve used on Outlook (Windows) for many years at work.

Each to their own, but I never got the point of 1) Not having a preview of the email you’ve selected or 2) having the reading pane on the right.

In 1, you’re looking at a bunch of emails, of which you can seriously only action one at a time. In 2, you’re surrendering a lot of screen estate to emails outreach not looking at right now.

If you manage your inbox well and use it as a temporary space (as was always intended) and therefore have a minimum of emails in there at any one time, there’s no need to see tens of emails ever time you open mail.

For anything else, that’s what search is for.

It does for me, I have a 500GB external SSD for my Photos Library and it works with iCloud.

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Man, you just made me feel a lot better! I felt pretty stupid not realizing that I could do this given how long I have use the Mail app.! Again, I can’t speak for others on this forum, but I sometimes find myself checking out new apps when the truth is I have not completely mastered an existing app.


I have the plug-in but I did not realize I could set up that keyboard shortcut. I’m gonna give that a try, thanks!

Update: I just set it up; works great! That is one less click or drag/drop!


I also have my photos library all downloaded to an external drive and no problems.


Very interesting ! Does it also move the iCloud Drive files? (I’m unfortunately guessing they live elsewhere)

My (admittedly uninformed) guess is that there is a perception within the Apple engineering corps that sharing would introduce some sort of security issue.


That may save me a huge amount of hassle! At the minute I’ve got my personal files on a 1TB SSD mounted in my QNAP TR-002. I’ve not attempted to use Mail or Outlook, as I these have to use the /home folder - I tried symlinks with Outlook, but it complained about security and privileges.

I’ve kept my photos on an external drive since I purchased the mini. As long as it is designated as the System Photo Library sync etc. works normally. As I recall, after moving my home folder I did need to selected it as the system photo library.


I recently did a clean install of Big Sur in order to take advantage of the improved Time Machine backup.

I shut down my mini, disconnected the T7, and booted up using Command + R. Then I formatted the internal SSD using Disk Utility and did a network install of Big Sur. Once the installation was complete I created a new user account using the same username and password as before. Then I pointed that account at my home directory on the T7. After rebooting and logging in I reinstalled my apps.

Apps from the Mac App Store didn’t require any additional setup. I did have to enter license codes for Arqbackup. As I recall this wasn’t necessary for Hazel, EagleFIler, and a few others.

I keep installation packages for all non App Store software so the upgrade only took about 30 minutes to complete after the network install.

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Sorry, this was what I’d tried before I saw your comments. I think I’ll look in to trying it and seeing how I get on. Saves all future hassle. Only downside is that the external is slower than the internal SSD, fairly significantly, but then I think I’m not far off hitting the limits of SATA SSD’s anyhow. Not sure what speeds the T7 gets - this is only about 400Mb/s. Mind, can’t have it all! If I wanted the speeds, I should have paid Apple upfront.