Use Mail on your Mac

Use the Mail app in OS X to compose, reply to, and store email on your Mac. 

Set up Mail

If you haven't already set up your email account, you're prompted to set it up when you first open Mail.

Choose your email provider from the list, then click Continue.

Enter your name, email address, and email password, then click Create. 

If necessary, Mail might ask you for additional settings. After you finish creating your account, you can add additional accounts by choosing Mail > Add Account.

Compose new messages

To start a new message, press Command (⌘)-N, click the New Message  button in the Mail toolbar, or choose File > New Message. A message window opens:

When you type a name or address in the To field or other address fields, Mail automatically helps complete the field based on information in your Contacts app, as well as any past messages you sent or received. If necessary, type the recipient's full email address. Use a comma to separate multiple recipients.

Type a subject of your message in the field provided, then type the body of your message in the large area below that. To change how your message looks:

  • Click the Format   button and use the controls to change the typeface or text alignment.
  • Click the Show Stationery   button to use any of the built-in message templates. 

When you're finished, click Send  . If you're offline, Mail keeps your outgoing messages in the Outbox mailbox until you connect to the Internet. If you're not ready to send your message, close its window or select another message. Mail keeps your unfinished messages in the Drafts mailbox.

View your email

Mail automatically checks your email accounts periodically for new mail. To manually check for email, click the Get Mail   button. To view an email message, select it from the list of messages on the left side of the Mail window. The message body appears on the right side of the window.

Reply to email

To reply to a message, click the Reply   or Reply All   button. Type your reply, then click Send  . Click Forward   to forward a sent message to other people.

In OS X Yosemite or later, you can use the Markup feature to draw and type directly onto an attachment. Use the Attach  button to add the attachment to your reply, then move your pointer over the image or PDF in your message. Click the menu icon   that appears in the upper-right corner of the attachment, then choose Markup from the menu that appears. These are some of the markup tools available:

  • Use the Sketch  tool to create freehand drawings on the attachment.
  • Use the Shapes   tool to make shapes such as rectangles, ovals, lines, and arrows. Or draw shapes using your finger on your trackpad. Use the Zoom tool    at the bottom of the Shapes palette to magnify and call attention to a part of an image.
  • Use the Text   tool to type directly onto images and PDFs, such as to provide feedback in an email thread.
  • Use the Sign   tool to sign your name by drawing on the trackpad with your finger, or snap a photo of your signature using the camera on your Mac.


To make it easy to follow a thread of messages between you and others, Mail organizes email replies into conversations. It collapses text you've already seen in earlier emails so you can read through a topic more easily. To see all the text of a specific message, click See More.


To include an attachment, such as an image or a document:

  • Drag the attachment into your email message.
  • Or click the Attach   button in the message window.
  • Or choose File > Attach Files. 

Messages with attachments show a paper clip icon:

When you receive an attachment, double-click it to open it. You can also drag attachments out of the email message window, or choose File > Save Attachments.

Beginning with Mail in OS X Yosemite and iOS 9.2, you can send large files (up to 5 GB per message), such as videos, presentations, and folders of images, without having to worry about your email provider’s limitations on file size. This feature is called Mail Drop. It works with any email service, as long as you're using Mail and signed in to iCloud on your device. Mail Drop automatically uploads large attachments to iCloud. If your recipients use Mail, they receive the attachment as part of your message. If they use another app or webmail, they receive a link to download the attachment. All you do is click Send, and Mail does the rest. Attachments are available for 30 days and don’t count against your iCloud storage.

Organize your email

You can create Mailboxes to organize your email messages. Mailboxes work like folders in the Finder.

To create a Mailbox:

  1. In Mail choose Mailbox > New Mailbox
  2. In the sheet that appears, choose the location for the Mailbox.
    • Choose On My Mac to create a Mailbox that resides on only your Mac.
    • Choose your email service (such as iCloud) to create a Mailbox that you can access from any device you check email from.
  3. Name the mailbox and click OK.

All of your mailboxes are listed in the sidebar. If the sidebar isn't visible, click the Mailboxes button in the Favorites bar, or choose View > Show Mailbox List. Use any of these methods to move messages into your mailboxes:

  • Drag messages into a mailbox.
  • When viewing a message, choose "Move to" or "Copy to" from the Messages menu in the menu bar. 
  • Control-click a message in a messages list, then choose "Move to" or "Copy to" from shortcut menu that appears.
  • Use the Rules feature in Safari preferences to create a mail rule that moves messages based on conditions that you specify. 

Use the Search field in the Mail window to search by sender, subject, attachments and more. To narrow your search, choose an option from the menu that appears as you type. You can also enter names or terms related to the message you're looking for. Select a search token such as People or Subject to search just that field in Mail. To search in a specific mailbox, select a mailbox from the Mailboxes sidebar or the Favorites bar.

Learn more

You can learn more about Mail from the built-in help included with your Mac. Open Mail, then click the Help menu at the top of the screen. Search for a Mail topic you want more information about, or search for a Mail menu item you're looking for.

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