A Few Little Mail Features
There are a bunch of different third-party mail clients1 on macOS. I have tried just about all of them. They all have pros and cons. As much fun as it is to try them all, using them all helped me to understand that there really are only a few little features that I want and need and I can do them all with the clean and simple Apple Mail client. So here goes:
What features do I actually use?
Multiple Account Support (with color-coding inbox for easy identification)
The first part is very basic and just about every client supports this, Apple Mail is no different. The second part is generally handled automatically by third-party clients. Apple Mail on the other hand required some modification. I accomplished this via rules. See screenshots below.
Some people like this feature, and some do not. It's another feature that a lot of third-party clients have. I use it from time to time and in order to get this kind of functionality with Apple Mail, I use SaneBox. Rather than being able to pick any arbitrary date, I have defined some constraints by creating 3 folders for snoozing. 1 Day, 3 Days, and Next Week. The function is pretty simple, move mail from Inbox to the folder and then it comes back to the inbox in that amount of time.
The junk mail filtering on my email accounts is really good but sometimes you need a nuclear option for incoming mail. For this I find the Blackhole feature of SaneBox to be second to none! Put something in there and you will never hear from them again. Done.
Automatic Sorting of "General Mail"
Automatic sorting by rules is great but it's kind of manual. Another great thing you can do with Sanebox is train mail. The vast majority of mail we generally get is not something you need to see RIGHT NOW so I have the majority of my mail route automatically to "The Feed". This basically means that when something hits my inbox, I know it's actually important for me right now. I can then check on "The Feed" whenever is convenient.
I use flags in Mail as a way to keep track of things that are in a holding pattern for some reason. This is different than snoozing in that I am not sure what the timeframe will be and this keeps me from constantly dragging the same thing into a snooze folder over and over again. I like that there are different colored flags in Apple Mail vs just a binary flag or not flagged state in other apps. I use colors for different things. The flag colors I use most often are Red (related to a company), Blue (related to actual people), and Yellow (related to purchases). Using consistent colors helps me to quickly narrow in on what I might be looking for. These colors sync to iOS as well so that's a nice bonus.
Another great tip from Miraz is to rename your flags from generic color names to make it even more customized.
Overall, this setup has yielded a pretty nice and manageable result! My only issue is the inability to sync the color rules to iOS. Bummer, but in reality, most of my "mailing" happens on the Mac, so 🤷♂️.
1:Mail Clients: Spark, Airmail, Canary, Outlook, Edison, Newton, Big Mail