I have stopped organizing my email. after some thought and a bit of time playing with my G-Mail account I have decided that it is time to take an organizational leap of faith and allow Mail.app to make it’s own order from my chaos.
Something that gmail does that is really a departure from the norm is the conspicuous absence of folders. I allows you to label you mail and apply rules to it but beyond that the interface and application require you to place your faith in the power of Google’s search algorithms. I have to admit that initially I was more than a little hesitatnt to relinquish controle fo my orginization to meerly searching for something wehn I may need to find it. But I has proved to be quite liberating both in the fact that I can find anything whenever I need it but also that it frees up a substantial ammount of my time because I am not trying to place my mail into the appropriate folder in case I needed to locate it later.
Taking G-Mail’s idea a little bit further I have decided to allow Mail.app to do the same thing… more or less. Through the years I have spent on OS-X, I have written many rules to automatically move mail to special mailboxes and copy it to other folders based on who sent it, when it was sent, what mailbox it came in on…. you get the idea. I still have those rules in effect but I don’t use those mailboxes any longer. They are still there soly because I don’t want to move the 1.2Gb of mail into one huge folder just yet—I’m afraid it could be bad, but that is just my reluctance and time limitations. I may do that someday soon, but I will need to makie sure that I have a bit of time to try it out and have a really fresh backup.
What I do now is, I have several smart mailboxes that sort my mail into when it was recieved. This has been working amazingly well for me for quite some time. Everything stays in one mailbox and I either use spotlight to find it when I need it or I create a new smart mailbox. The power that this allows me is really impressive because not only can I search for a term, but I can also search from, to, date and with this hint from MacOSXhints.com I can use boolian logic in my search terms.
(Bootnote: SmartFolders are only available in Apple’s Mail.app 2.0 & G-Mail is only available via invitation)