We are about half way through the Noob2Pro series. Today we are going to focus on Mail. One of the best email applications for the Mac. Using Mail is easy as other Mac programs, but you need to set it up correctly. I am not going to go through every little tip about Mail in this post, but I will show you the best tips needed to use Mail effectively. To get a grips on how to use the Mail client, simply play around with it.
To begin, I must state, I can’t fully remember the set up process for Mail. As a result I will mention the main features in the Preferences. The process can be extrapolated to when you set up your Mac. To start when you set up an account there are two main options, POP and IMAP. I can’t remember what the acronyms mean. However POP will download your email to your hard drive and store it on your Mac. This is useful if you want a backup, however any emails on your email server (take Gmail for an example), will remain in the inbox folder and will not be touched. IMAP is more useful, it will again download the emails to your hard drive, however any changes you make to emails to be replicated on the remote server. If you move an email to a folder in Mail, the same process will happen on the remote server. This also means any changes you make will be the same over any computer with the same account settings. I would recommend IMAP.
In Preferences in Mail, you are given a variety of options to set up how your emails are delivered, you need an incoming server and username and passwords. All of these details are given by your email provider. You also need an outgoing smtp server. This is used for sending email. Normally one is provided by your email provider (such as Gmail) and one can be provided by your ISP. If you have problems sending emails. The quickest way to solve the problem is to change the smtp server. I have this problem when I am in University accommodation, I have to use there smtp server.
Within the accounts section, there is a couple of minor settings which you can change. Have a browse through them at your leisure. In Advance, you can set an encryption method, which I recommend. You can add as many email accounts as you wish, however I don’t recommend having to many, since you have to download lots of emails. Mail is smart enough to realise which email account and email is received from, so when you reply it will send it from the right account. You don’t have to worry about this aspect when you have more than one account.
Within preferences, many of the options are for the layout and visibility of using Mail. Most allow minor changes so look through them by all means. There are two things I would like to point out. Signatures and Rules. Signatures, as you may expect, are the small pieces of text at the bottom of an email. Its a lazy way of saving time. I recommend you enter a simple signature such as you name, plus another bit of information as you see fit. For example I have my website under may name when I am in correspondence to other website owners. When I use my Uni email, I have my registration number and course. It is a useful way to save time and present people with information. You can have as many signatures as you want. You can also set them to random to mix it up a little.
The rules section is a powerful way to organise and set up methods for incoming email. For example you set some capture criteria for an incoming email. This can be anything from message, to subject, to if it has an attachment. You can then set a rule or rules to what happens to the email. You can colour the email for easy identification, move it to a folder or even delete it. I recommend you set up a couple of rules to make it easy for yourself (colouring emails from families is a good method), but not to many as you could miss important emails.
The final two things I would like to point out to make Mail easier is Smart Mailboxes and RSS. Smart Mailboxes are a way of viewing only certain emails. They are like Rules, expect it is designed only to view email and not move them around. To add a Smart Mailbox, press the plus icon in the side bar and select “Smart Mailbox”, enter in a couple of rules, I recommend you set up a Mailbox of un-read emails, this way you can see what emails you haven’t read. Any Mailbox can be changed at a later date by double clicking on it. Set up a Smart Mailbox to suit your needs. You will more than likely set them up later when you have some emails coming in.
The final section is RSS. This is a method used by websites (such as my own, you can find my feed here) to give you the latest contents. There are many RSS readers out there, however I think Mail’s is one of the best (although many people do use Safari). In the Preferences under RSS set the reader to Mail. This way you can view any RSS feeds that you enter. RSS feeds are then treated in a way similar to emails. RSS feeds, and the contents of websites updates and posts, are stored in the sidebar under each heading so you can easily see which one you haven’t read. Use RSS feeds to keep up to date on the latest news, just look out for this symbol.
To conclude, I hope you have understood this post. Mail is a great email reader. It takes a well to set up and use, however I have pointed out four of the best ways to use this app. Personally the best way of learning this app is to use it.