April 20, 2006 23:11 | MacStuff

Read but present in Smart Mailbox count


I would really love an option for Smart Mailboxes in Apple's Mail.app to display a count. In the above mockup, the dark dot with the white number in it is the existing functionality of unread count. I have Smart Mailboxes which contain read emails but that I need to return to, and knowing how many are in there would be terribly useful...


Or, it would be helpful if mailboxes updated the number of unread messages more easily. I use Mail Act-On to mark items as read and put in a folder indicating that I need to do something with it or set the due date in MailTags for the future and incubate it. Then I have a Smart Mailbox for those Incubate items, but it doesn't automatically update the number of unread messages, even though Act-On marks the messages unread. Either your solution or a fix for my current implementation would work for me.

As a side note, why isn't there a way to tell Mail how many seconds a message has to be viewed before marking it read? Outlook manages to have this feature...

Oh the feature wishlist gets longer and longer.

I am getting a better hold of some more of the internals of Mail. I agree that there needs to be better accounting of messages. I also want to add a delay before marking a message read -- that shouldn't be too hard -- to the next version to Act-On .

Damn I need a holiday to work on this stuff.

Heck, why not have the option of unseen and total message counts being visible for every mailbox using some kind of split "(unseen/total)" indicator? There are a few ways I could suggest to do that but mockups are better left to someone more qualified.

I also want to add a delay before marking a message read -- that shouldn't be too hard -- to the next version to Act-On .

That would be great. I'd switch back to message "previewing" as the default instead of opening messages in separate windows. Here's what Mulberry does:

When an unseen message is opened into its own window, it is always marked as seen. When a message is previewed in a preview pane, you can control whether the seen state is changed immediately, after a short delay (assuming the message is still previewed after that delay) or not at all.

The controlling options:

Mark it Seen
When this is on, the message will always be marked seen as soon as it is previewed.

Mark it Seen After:
When this is on, the message will only be marked seen after the specified delay, assuming it is still being displayed at that time.

Don't Mark it Seen
When this is on, the message will not have the seen flag turned on when it is

Another useful and possibly unique feature in Mulberry is its ability to distinguish between Unseen and Recent messages, the latter described as:

The number of new messages that have arrived in the mailbox the last time it was opened.

An easy way to imagine using this in Mail would be with a Smart Mailbox condition that matches Recent messages (instead of Unseen), providing a filter for any newly-arriving messages while Mail is running.

There are plenty of other Mulberry features I'd like to see integrated into Mail. I don't know what Cyrus Daboo (Mulberry's developer) is doing for Apple but hopefully he's able to make recommendations that have some positive influence on Mail's future.

PS: The comment preview of my post looked fine but the actual post came out a bit goofy (again). Seems to be trouble with closing blockquote tags since I think those are what messed things up last time, too.

re: formatting: you need to put an extra line break after your blockquotes so that MT can insert the closing p tag. I have fixed the CSS so that the rendering isn't snafued in such cases anymore but still. :)

You bring some interesting things intot he mix here. In my mind, seen is seen, read is read, needs replying is needs replying and needs acting on is needs acting on. These are states, some explicit and some inferable by interaction ("previewed for just a moment" = seen but not read or actioned with "must reply" or "must act on later")


Thanks for the explanation and fixing the CSS. I'll add that extra newline next time anyway.

Mail could be more accommodating with "seen but not read" interaction. Even something simple (in theory; there always seem to be exceptional conditions to consider), like adding a modifier key while selecting unseen messages to avoid marking them seen.

Differentiating between unseen and recent messages may be too esoteric for most users though I've missed it since switching from Mulberry to Mail. Everyone's got their feature priorities. Like, I couldn't care less about signatures.

Thanks for the reminder for Smart Mailboxes - I had mentally filed that away and forgotten it till long after the functionality would have been really useful.

One thing you might want to do is to add a Smart Mailbox identical to those you have, plus one criteria of looking for "flagged" messages.

Very handy...