MailRecent (Mail Plugin for Mac OS X)

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© 2013, Gregory F. Welch, All Rights Reserved

Synopsis:

Adds "Copy to Recent," "Move to Recent," and "Go to Recent" menu items to Apple's Mail application. These menu items contain dynamically-updated lists of recently used mailboxes. The number of mailboxes kept in the list is determined by the "Number of Recent Items" setting for Documents in the Appearance panel of the OS X System Preferences.

Download
latest version for 10.9/Mavericks

(See installation instructions below)
A Little Press: Tim Gaden (Hawk Wings) has a nice description of MailRecent. Dan Frakes (MacWorld) has also written about it and my MailFollowup plugin in his MacGems Weblog.

Author:

Greg Welch

Current and Past Versions:

1.4.3 for 10.9/Mavericks

1.3.9 should work for 10.8/Mountain Lion (no longer supported)
1.3.6 might work for 10.7/Lion (no longer supported)
1.2.5 might work for 10.6/Snow Leopard (no longer updated/supported)
1.1 might work for 10.5/Leopard (no longer updated/supported)
1.0.4 might work for 10.4/Tiger (no longer updated/supported)

Requirements:

OS X 10.9/Mavericks with Mail 7
Cost: Free. If you like MailRecent please let me know. If you like, you can buy me a beer with the "Donate" button below and to the left.
Updates: Sign up here if you want to be added to a mail list for MailRecent announcements.
  If you would like to buy me a beer...
Mac and the Mac logo are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Usage

Once installed (see instructions below) as you drag or option-drag a message to a mailbox, that mailbox should then appear under

Similarly if you use Mail's built-in "Move To" or "Copy To" menus to move a message to a mailbox, that mailbox should then appear in the lists. The recent mailboxes will be sorted alphabetically, the same as OS X does for recent documents. (You can change the sorting behavior using the Terminal application as described below.)

Once the lists contain some mailboxes (as a result of you transferring some messages as described above), you can then copy or move to a mailbox in the list by selecting one or more messages and then choosing that mailbox from the "Copy to Recent" or "Move to Recent" submenus under the "Messages" menu. Or you go to a recent mailbox by selecting it in the "Go to Recent" submenu under the "Mailboxes" menu.

With version 1.3.5 (Mac OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion), the maximum number of mailboxes in the lists defaults to 20 but can be changed as described below. In earlier versions the maximum number of items in the lists is determined by the "Number of Recent Items" setting for Documents in the Appearance panel of the OS X System Preferences. Note that this must be set to something greater than 0 for the plugin to have the desired behavior, i.e. it should be set to either 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, or 50. If the lists fill up (reaches the maximum) the oldest item will be discarded as a new item is added. If you want to remove all of the mailboxes from the lists (to clean it up), choose the "Clear Menu" at the bottom of any list.

If you transfer to one or more mailboxes that happen to have the same name, the menu item titles will be extended with a minimal distinguishing path to the mailbox. This is true whether the "duplicate" mailboxes (same names) are in the same or different mail accounts. If you hover for a moment (with the mouse) over a mailbox name in any of the recent mailbox menus, the full path to the mailbox will appear as a tool tip.

If you delete or move a mailbox, it will be updated in the menus. If you remove or disable a mail account (using Mail's preferences) any corresponding mailboxes will be removed from the recent mailbox lists.

Known Issues

Background

I have long used Apple's Mail application, and have generally been very pleased with it. However I regularly found myself moving messages to a small working set of mailboxes when projects or conversations were hot/active. While I make extensive use of Scott Morrison's wonderful Mail Act-On mail plugin to move messages to mailboxes that I use on a regular basis, I frequently find myself working with mailboxes that I do not use on a daily basis, but might use in bursts of activity during a day (or few days). While Apple's Mail application does remember the last mailbox that you moved or copied a message to, it only remembers the last one mailbox. I decided I wanted to keep small working set of recenty accessed mailboxes to move/copy to, a nice feature that Microsoft Entourage has (or had, last I used it). So I developed this plugin. As with my MailFollowup plugin, I wrote this MailRecent plugin for myself, but hope that others might find it useful too.

Installation (Simple)

You can use the provided installer if you like. It essentially does the steps shown below in "Installation (Manual)".

  1. Quit the Mail application.
  2. Download (see above), expand, and mount the MailRecent disk image.
  3. Launch (double-click) the "Install MailRecent" application .
  4. Launch the Mail application again and confirm that the "Move to Recent" and "Copy to Recent" menu items appear in the Message and contextual menus.
  5. Sign up here if you want to be added to a mail list for MailRecent announcements.

If you are using OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion and having difficulties installing, please see the Known Issues page.

Installation (Manual)

These are the steps (essentially) the above installer takes. You can do them yourself if you like.

  1. Quit the Mail application.
  2. Download (see above), expand, and mount the MailRecent disk image.
  3. Drag MailRecent.mailbundle to ~/Library/Mail/Bundles/ ("~"means a user's home directory). You might need to create the Bundles folder if it does not already exist.
  4. If you have never used another Mail bundle, you will need to run the following two commands in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt).
    If you are using OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion or newer type

    % defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist EnableBundles -bool true
    % defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist BundleCompatibilityVersion 4

    If you are using OS X 10.7/Lion or 10.6/Snow Leopard (MailFollowUp 1.4) type

    % defaults write com.apple.mail EnableBundles -bool true
    % defaults write com.apple.mail BundleCompatibilityVersion 4

    If you are using OS X 10.5/Leopard (MailFollowUp 1.3) type
    % defaults write com.apple.mail EnableBundles -bool true
    % defaults write com.apple.mail BundleCompatibilityVersion 3
    If you are using OS X 10.4/Tiger (MailFollowUp 1.1) type
    % defaults write com.apple.mail EnableBundles -bool true
    % defaults write com.apple.mail BundleCompatibilityVersion 2
  5. Launch the Mail application again and confirm that the "Move to Recent" and "Copy to Recent" menu items appear in the Message and contextual menus.
  6. Sign up here if you want to be added to a mail list for MailRecent announcements.

Un-Installing the Plugin

  1. Quit the Mail application.
  2. Launch (double-click) the "Uninstall MailRecent" application or move ~/Library/Mail/Bundles/MailRecent.mailbundle to the trash.

Changing the Maximum Number of List Items (OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion ONLY)

In OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion, the maximum number of mailboxes in the lists defaults to 20 but can be changed as follows.

For example, if you are using OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion or newer and want to increase the number of mailboxes to 30 you would type:

% defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailrecent.plist MaxMailboxes 30

Changing the Recent Mailboxes Sort Order (Advanced)

By default MailRecent sorts the recent mailboxes alphabetically, the same as OS X does for recent documents. You can change that behavior to either sort by time of access (most recent at the top), or sort by frequency of access (most frequent at the top).

To sort by time, quit the Mail application and then run the following command in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt):

    If you are using OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion or newer type

    % defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailrecent.plist SortType 1

    Otherwise type
    % defaults write net.welchwold.mailrecent SortType 1

To sort by frequency, quit the Mail application and then run the following command in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt):

    If you are using OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion or newer type

    % defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailrecent.plist SortType 2

    Otherwise type
    % defaults write net.welchwold.mailrecent SortType 2

To sort by name (to restore the default plugin behavior), quit the Mail application and then run the following command in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt):

    If you are using OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion or newer type

    % defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailrecent.plist SortType 0

    Otherwise type
    % defaults write net.welchwold.mailrecent SortType 0

Aftere issuing any of the above commands, launch the Mail application again and you should see the new recent mailbox sorting.

Including/Excluding "Special" Mailboxes (Advanced)

By default MailRecent should exclude all "special" mailboxes (Inbox, Junk, Trash, and Sent) from the recent mailboxes list. If for some reason you want to include the special mailboxes in the recent items lists, quit the Mail application and then run the following command in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt):

If you are using OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion or newer type

% defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailrecent.plist ExcludeSpecialMailboxes -boolean No

Otherwise type
% defaults write net.welchwold.mailrecent ExcludeSpecialMailboxes -boolean No

To return to the default behavior, and exclude all "special" mailboxes, quit the Mail application and then run the following command in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt):

If you are using OS X 10.8/Mountain Lion or newer type

% defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailrecent.plist ExcludeSpecialMailboxes -boolean Yes

Otherwise type
% defaults write net.welchwold.mailrecent ExcludeSpecialMailboxes -boolean Yes

Acknowledgements

I want to thank Scott Morrison (developer of the wonderful Mail Act-On and MailTags) for help and code snippets that allowed me to develop both my MailFollowup and MailRecent plugins. Thank you to Maurice Scharf for the French web page translation and localization help, Jan-Michael Frahm for the German localization, Paolo Boni for the Italian localization help, and Ruud Kalberg for the Dutch localization.

The installation instructions were adapted from James Eagan's Attachment Scanner plugin web page. Another wonderful plugin!

Revision History

Support

You are welcome to ask for support via email. I will respond if/as I can.


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Last updated Wed, Feb 26, 2014