Organise email on your Mac

How to take control of your inbox and make it easier to focus on messages that are important to you.

Organise messages by conversation

A conversation (or thread) includes the original message and all replies to that message. When you organise messages by conversation, each conversation is collapsed, meaning your mailbox will only show the most recent message in the conversation. When you select that message, the preview area will show every message in the conversation.

The View menu in the menu bar offers several options for organising messages by conversation:

  • Organise by Conversation: Turn conversation view on or off.
  • Highlight Conversations: Highlight conversations to make them easier to notice in your mailbox.
  • Expand All Conversations: Show each message of all conversations in your mailbox. 
  • Collapse All Conversations: Show only the most recent message of all conversations in your mailbox.

Find out more about conversations, including how to mute conversations.


Move messages into mailboxes

Moving messages into mailboxes is a great way to organise the messages you want to keep.

Create a new mailbox for messages

  1. Choose Mailbox > New Mailbox from the menu bar. 
  2. Give your mailbox a name and choose a location for it.
    • Choose an On My Mac location to make your mailbox only available on your Mac. 
    • Choose another location, such as IMAP or iCloud, to make your mailbox available on all of your other devices that use the same account. 

Move messages to a mailbox

  • Drag the message to the mailbox you created in the sidebar.
  • Or select the message, then click the move button  in the toolbar to move the message to the suggested mailbox. The suggested mailbox changes based on where you moved similar messages, so suggestions get better the more you move messages. You can also click the arrow  next to the move button to choose a specific mailbox, or use rules to automatically move messages to mailboxes.

Unsubscribe from mailing lists

When Mail sees that a message was sent as part of a mailing list, it will display a banner above the message body stating: "This message is from a mailing list". To remove yourself from the mailing list, click Unsubscribe in the banner. Find out more about the unsubscribe feature


Block senders

Blocked mail filtering is a kind of junk mail filtering feature. You can use both features at the same time.

When you block a sender, you will still receive their messages, but Mail will display a blocked symbol  next to their name in the list of messages. It also will add, "This message is from a blocked sender" in the header above each message. 

  1. Open a message from the sender you want to block.
  2. Click the arrow  next to the sender's name in the message header, then choose Block Contact from the menu. To unblock, choose Unblock Contact.

You can manage blocking in Mail preferences: choose Mail > Preferences, click Junk Mail, then click the Blocked tab.

  • Make sure "Enable blocked mail filtering" is selected. If you deselect this checkbox, Mail still remembers the senders you have blocked, but will stop blocking them.
  • To get Mail to automatically move new blocked messages to the Bin, select "Move it to the Bin".
  • To remove a blocked sender from the list, select the sender's email address, then click the remove (–) button beneath the list.
  • To block one of your contacts, click the add (+) button, then choose their name to block every email address and phone number associated with that contact in the Contacts app. You can still remove (–) email addresses and phone numbers individually.

Your blocked list is shared with the Mail, Messages, FaceTime and Phone apps across all of your devices that are using iCloud Contacts and are signed in to iCloud with your Apple ID.


Make VIPs

When you make a sender a VIP, all messages from them in your Inbox will also be shown in the VIPs mailbox in the sidebar. You can have up to 100 VIPs, which are shared with each of your devices that are using iCloud Contacts and are signed in to iCloud with your Apple ID. 

  1. Open a message from the sender.
  2. Move your pointer to the left of their name in the message header.
  3. Click the star next to their name.


Flag messages

When you flag a message, a flag icon  will appear next to that message in your inbox and in the message header.

  • To flag a message, select the message and choose a flag from the Flag menu in the toolbar. 
  • To remove a flag, choose the same flag again, or choose Clear Flag.

To see only the messages you've flagged:

  • Click Flagged in the favorites bar to see all flagged messages, or click the arrow  next to it and choose a specific flag.
  • Or select the Flagged mailbox in the sidebar. If you've used more than one flag colour, the Flagged mailbox contains mailboxes for each colour. To reveal them, click the disclosure triangle next to the mailbox.

Find out more about flags, including how to rename flags. For example, you may want to rename ”Red” to ”Urgent”. 


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