RR

Quick Archiving in OS X Mail

July 2, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in July 2007.

Last year Michael Sippey clued me into his method of managing the deluge of email he receives every day. I was in a similar predicament: My inbox (and assorted Rules-based folders) of mailing lists and various specifically-addressed email was becoming a source of frustration.

His system was simple: Have two mailboxes: Inbox and Archive. Use “smart folders” and search for the rest. The goal is to keep the Inbox folder as close to empty as possible. Messages in the Inbox are effectively a to-do list. Messages in the archive require no immediate or further direct action on your part.

I was able to delete 20-odd mail rules and replace them with this simple logic: If the message was sent to a mailing list, therefore not requiring immediate action, then move it to the Archive folder. If it looked like a bounce, spam, or anything else not requiring immediate action—file in Archive.

This let me reduce my email parsing time to a few seconds: I could actively read and respond to messages in my Inbox, and when I had free cycles, read messages in the Archive. I estimate my throughput for reading/responding to mail increased by at least a factor of 5. Email, previously a giant time-suck, shrank to a manageable slice of my day. I knew that I could realistically devote as much time as necessary to each message in my Inbox, since it was limited to those specific mails that I would most likely have to act on.

OS X has a nice feature: You can assign a keystroke combination to any menu in any application. Just name the menu, and voila: It has a keystroke equivalent.

The single most common operation I do in OS X Mail is “Move to Archive.” I assigned a keyboard shortcut (Cmd+Shift+A) to the “Archive” menu. Unfortunately, Mail chose to apply this to a pop-up menu buried in a dialog box, not the top-level Message > Move > Archive menu.

On Saturday, I was trying to figure out why the iPhone did not let me set an empty IMAP root path (it always reset to INBOX). I eventually gave up and tried another approach: I moved the Archive folder to inside the Inbox folder. This saved me time in two ways: Dragging & dropping a message from Inbox to Archive was now a shorter process: The folders were adjacent to each other in the sidebar. Second, Mail added the keyboard shortcut I’d originally defined to the correct menu!

Pista Has iPhone

July 1, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in June 2007.

OMFG

July 1, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in June 2007.

Check out that interest rate.

First 24 Hours with the iPhone

July 1, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in July 2007.

A friend asked me yesterday if the iPhone was a life-changing device. I sandbagged my reply: It’s an amazing device; the user interface is beautiful. While not entirely intuitive, it is fun. Figuring out how to do X becomes a challenge. The reward is some nifty feature that wasn’t immediately apparent. Game theory says that positive intermittent feedback is a good thing, and the iPhone has this in spades.

Besides occasional lockups doing weird things with Mail + Exchange, the only real problem I encountered was when I plugged it into my car adapter. Music played not through the stereo, but through the iPhone’s tiny speakers. Apparently it will not be a replacement for my lost iPod quite yet.

To go back to Anne’s question, my answer was the browser. In the first 24 hours of having the device, just having a full, real browser saved me considerable time. Sure, the EDGE data is slow (it’s like going back in time to the 56k days), but it’s a real, full-blown, no-foolin browser in my pocket.

My hat is off to the iPhone team, and in particular, my one favorite feature: natural zooming into areas of the page. Double-tap a column in the New York Times site or any blog, and the iPhone browser zooms in and sizes to that column.

Scrollbars—and fixed resolution—are made irrelevant in a single guesture.

Now if only it worked with my car adapter. Steve?

Cooking

July 1, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in July 2007.

They Cheered

June 30, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in June 2007.

Sad

June 29, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in June 2007.

City

June 29, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in June 2007.

Bridge

June 29, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in June 2007.

Sleeping Dog Lies

June 28, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in June 2007.