MailFollowUp (Mail Plugin for Mac OS X)

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© 2019, Gregory F. Welch, All Rights Reserved

Synopsis:

Adds "Follow Up" items to the Message and contextual menus (and optionally a toolbar button) of Apple's Mail application that allows you to compose (and then send) a quoted version of the original message to all of the original recipients, keeping the To, Cc and Bcc addresses as they appeared in the original message. In keeping with Mail's built-in Reply and Reply All functionality, the plugin adds "Follow Up" (original To: recipients only) and "Follow Up All" (all original recipients) functionality via both menus and toolbar items.
Download latest plugin for
10.4.2/Mojave

(See installation instructions below)
A Little Press: Dan Frakes (MacWorld) wrote about my MailFollowUp and MailRecent plugins in his MacGems Weblog in January of 2007 and rated them in 2008. Joe Kisel listed MailFollowUp as one of his "nine must-have plug-ins for Apple Mail" in 2014.

Author:

Greg Welch

Current and Past Versions:

2.0.1 for 10.14.2/Mojave

NOTE: As of 2.0, I am providing the plugin only. I cannot provide an installer, and you must perform a manual installation as described below.

Older versions (no longer maintained):

1.9 for 10.13/High Sierra
1.8.4 for 10.12.4/Sierra
1.8 for 10.11/El Capitan
1.7.3 for 10.10/Yosemite
1.6.5 for 10.9/Mavericks
1.5.8 for 10.8/Mountain Lion
1.5.4 might work for 10.7/Lion
1.4.5 might work for 10.6/Snow Leopard
1.3.1 might work for 10.5/Leopard
1.1 might work for 10.4/Tiger

Requirements: macOS 10.14.2/Mojave with Mail 12.2
Cost: Free. If you like MailFollowUp please let me know. If you like, you can buy me a beer with the "Donate" button below and to the left.
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.

Screenshots

Usage

Similar to the "Reply" and "Reply All" funcionality built into Mail, once the plugin is installed (see instructions below) you should be able to select one or more messages and then choose either "Follow Up" or "Follow Up All," from either the Message or contextual menus. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts -Shift-W and -Shift-O respectively. If you initially select a portion of the text from the body of the original email, only that (quoted) text will appear in the followup. Follow Up toolbar buttons can be added via the toolbar customization panel, either as a stand-alone "Follow" or "Follow All" buttons, or in a various button groups.

Known Issues

Background

I have long used Apple's Mail application, and have generally been very pleased with it. However I regularly found myself wanting to send an additional thought or comment to the original recipients of an email message, i.e. to "follow up" on the message. The "Reply All" option wasn't really what I wanted, because it would put only the original sender in the To field, and everyone else in the Cc field. This would make it seem like I was primarily addressing the original sender, and including others simply for their information. (Personally, I pay closer attention to mail that is sent "To" me than mail where I am included in the "Cc" field.)

Instead what I wanted in this case was to send a quoted "follow up" message to the original recipients, as they appeared in the original To, Cc, and Bcc fields. To accomplish this I usually did a "Reply All" and then manually moved the original To recipients from the Cc field back to the To field. This got old, and so I set out to develop a Mail application plugin that did what I really wanted. With some help from Scott Morrison (see below) I was able to develop a MailFollowUp plugin. As with my MailRecent plugin, I wrote this MailFollowUp plugin for myself, but hope that others might find it useful too.

Installation (Manual)

You might need to provide Full Disk Access (link) for the Terminal application to successfully use the following commands. You should remove this elevated Terminal permission after you have issued the commands.

Also, as of macOS 10.4.2/Mojave, Apple has incorporated a new Mail plugin management scheme. After you install any plugin (including mine) you must enable them from within Mail per steps 5–9 below.

  1. Quit the Mail application.
  2. Download (see above), expand, and mount the MailFollowUp disk image.
  3. Drag MailFollowUp.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 two special commands in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt).

    % 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

  5. Launch the Mail application again.
  6. Select “Preferences…” from the Mail menu.
  7. In the General tab click the "Manage Plug-Ins…” button near the bottom left.
  8. Select (check the box for) each plugin that you want to use.
  9. Click the "Apply and Restart Mail” button.

After Mail relaunches the plugin(s) should be available, assuming all else is correct/well.

Un-Installing the Plugin

You might need to provide Full Disk Access (link) for the Terminal application to successfully use the following commands. You should remove this elevated Terminal permission after you have issued the commands.

  1. Quit the Mail application.
  2. Move ~/Library/Mail/Bundles/MailFollowUp.mailbundle to the trash.

Changing the Follow-Up Subject Prefix (Advanced)

NOTE: As of macOS 10.4/Mojave this might or might not work for you. You might need to provide Full Disk Access (link) for the Terminal application to successfully use the following commands. You should remove this elevated Terminal permission after you have issued the commands.

By default MailFollowUp will leave the follow-up subject prefix as "Re: " as with a normal reply. If you would like to change the prefix to something else, for example "Follow-up: ", 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, from a command line in the Terminal application type

% defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailfollowup.plist FollowUpPrefix -string "Follow-up: "

Otherwise type
% defaults write net.welchwold.mailfollowup FollowUpPrefix -string "Follow-up: "

To provide maximum flexibility, the string you specify will replace all four characters of "Re: " incuding the final space. For most people the string will likely end with ": " (a colon and a space).

To return to the default follow-up subject prefix "Re: " as with a normal reply, 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 delete ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailfollowup.plist FollowUpPrefix

Otherwise type
% defaults delete net.welchwold.mailfollowup FollowUpPrefix

Changing the MailFollowUp Menu Text and Toolbar Labels (Advanced)

NOTE: As of macOS 10.4/Mojave this might or might not work for you. You might need to provide Full Disk Access (link) for the Terminal application to successfully use the following commands. You should remove this elevated Terminal permission after you have issued the commands.

If you would like to change the MailFollowUp menu item text and/or toolbar labels to something else, for example very short toolbar labels, quit the Mail application and then run the any (or all) of the following commands in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt), replacing the -string values with your desired strings:

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.mailfollowup.plist FollowUpMenuTitle -string "Follow Up"
% defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailfollowup.plist FollowUpAllMenuTitle -string "Follow Up All"
% defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailfollowup.plist FollowUpToolbarItemTitle -string "Follow"
% defaults write ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/net.welchwold.mailfollowup.plist FollowUpAllToolbarItemTitle -string "Follow All"
Otherwise type
% defaults write net.welchwold.mailfollowup FollowUpMenuTitle -string "Follow Up"
% defaults write net.welchwold.mailfollowup FollowUpAllMenuTitle -string "Follow Up All"
% defaults write net.welchwold.mailfollowup FollowUpToolbarItemTitle -string "Follow"
% defaults write net.welchwold.mailfollowup FollowUpAllToolbarItemTitle -string "Follow All"

To return to the default menu item text and/or toolbar labels, quit the Mail application and then run all of the above commands as shown in the Terminal application (omit the % prompt).

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 the MailFollowUp and MailRecent plugins. Thank you to Maurice Scharf for the French web page translation and localization help, Matthias Fichtner and Jan-Michael Frahm for the German localization help, and Paolo Boni for the Italian localization help.

Revision History

Support

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


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