★ Mail 5 for OSX Lion: 5 things Apple should fix to make it perfect.

Posted on March 16, 2011

The new Apple Mail 5 client for OSX Lion is the one feature that I'm most excited about in the new OSX operating system. I've been waiting for a refresh to Apple Mail for a long time. I've been using PostBox for now, but it's never felt like a complete mail solution as good as Outlook for windows.

The New Apple Mail is Awesome; it's almost completely perfect.

I was blown away by it, and I can't wait to start using it exclusively. In the meantime, here is my list of the 5 areas that I hope Apple will fix before the final product is released.

#1: Allow custom keyboard shortcuts for flags.

If I could only pick only one item on my list to be implemented, this would be it. I can't tell you how convenient and efficient it is to hit a key to quickly flag a message.

Mail5 1  Assignable Flag Shortcuts

#2: Flag priorities don't prioritize

There is no real rhyme or reason to the flag priorities. Sorting by flag is supposed to sort in a particular order, but where is that order defined? If it's supposed to sort from top to bottom (orange to gray), then it just doesn't work.

Mail5 2  Flag Priorities

#3: Mark all messages as read should work at the folder level

In order to test out Mail I imported several folders from another mail client. All the messages imported, but as unread. Logically, I should be able to right-click on the folder and select the ‘Mark all Messages as read' option, but for some reason that isn't available. Right now the only solution is to go into each folder and cycle through the messages. It's very time consuming.

Mail5 3  Mark all as Read

#4: Command-Enter should send your email

Not everyone wants to use Command-D as the keyboard shortcut key to send an email, especially when Command-Enter is so common. At the very least allow us to change it.

Mail5 3  Send Mail Keyboard Shortcut

#5: How do you flag a message as spam?

One of my favorite features of PostBox / Thunderbird is the ability to hit a button right next to the message to mark it as spam. The new Apple Mail doesn't provide an easy way to do that short of using the junk button on the toolbar.

Mail5 4  No Spam Button

Closing thoughts

In my opinion, the upcoming Apple Mail will blow away anything other email app for the Mac. I will absolutely be making the switch from Postbox (unless they can hurry up and implement some sort of flagging system similar to this one).


  • Chris says:

    Hi, if I were to use the Mail.app in Snow Leopard, would it run – in theory?

  • Gaurav says:

    You can change the Send Message command to use Command + Enter as the keyboard shortcut. Go to System Preferences –> Keyboard and choose Keyboard shortcut and click +. Select Apple Mail as the app, Send as the command name and Command + Enter as the command.

    For some reason it takes it as SHIFT + COMMAND + ENTER. Still better than SHIFT + COMMAND + D. Not sure who decided D.

  • Alastair says:

    Hi, I wondered if anyone here knows if the new Mail 5 will do anything for the “fonts” issue when communicating with PC Outlook users (i.e. you send Verdana 12 or whatever, and the recipient gets Times New Roman 6 or 18 or something). I spoke to Apple support who said this was a known issue – it seemed to be regarded as MS’s problem and it was suggested that I could get Outlook users to change their settings which is scarcely practical as the bulk of business contacts are Outlook/PC based. I use Postbox, which seems to have solved this problem, but is still buggy in some ways so I’d love to go back to Mail, but this issue is a killer as it makes the mail look unprofessional.(And I really don’t want to install Outlook unless I absolutely have no choice)

  • James says:

    Nice article. Having installed Lion last night, I’ve been playing around with the new features this morning. I use flags a lot, so was intrigued to see some more options (colours!) in the new version. The one thing I’m most happy about is the new Reminders item, that shows the count of flagged messages – thanks Apple!

    Now, once I clicked on a colour to try it out, it created a new item in the reminders option… do you know of any way to remove a flag colour from the sidebar? It just seems a bit odd to have a one-way switch; to activate a colour but not be able to remove it later.


  • Kurt Trew says:

    Anyone know of a plugin, or native feature, that doesn’t automatically mark items as read when you’ve previewed them?

    For Snow Leopard, there was this plugin: http://christianserving.org/project/truepreview

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  • Custom mail 5 shortcut not problem with standard settings. See at https://skitch.com/prskavec/fmwkp/keyboard

  • Shawn says:

    You can select all items in a folder and mark the read all at once.

  • John says:

    Apple being such a design centered entity could have maybe given a bit more air between lines and messages in the list. The readability is terrible. I’m a designer/developer and would beat someone for letting that out the door.

  • Colin Knauf says:

    Where have they hidden the ‘not junk’ button…keystroke or some method of reversing a spam filter error?

    Mail. app is wonderful but no where what I would expect from a Design conscious…”think different” company. They may have taken that tag line the wrong way…thinking different for different sake; is annoying…turning a tool into a toy… is backwards…IMHO

    A great feature under used and ignored…I believe…as I have never seen any details on how great the ‘signature’ feature is…it is a capable of being a template for invoices and all manner of forms.

    Why bury potential so deep without any pop-ups saying “have you seen this change?”,,,”check out this great feature” and then of course offering a toggle turn them off once you have seen it enough times…that to me is what I have come to expect from Apple…intuitive programs…tools not toys..and show some uses to spark the imagination of those less creative people would never think to use it any other way than what is offered. Many newbies with macs have no idea of the power and potential under the hood…I fault Apple. Don’t expect ‘everyone’ to just know how great it is….show us!…pop tutorials to introduce all the many changes made…and where old great features have been sequestered.

  • Item #1 is doable in System Preferences –> Keyboard and choose Keyboard shortcut and click +. Select Apple Mail as the app, “Yellow” as the command name and assign it a key.

    Obviously you can choose Green or Gray etc, or if you’ve changed the name of the flag, use that name instead. I have “Follow up today” and “Technology” flags assigned to keyboard shortcuts for example.

    Agreed on Mark all as read, there Mail still has issues.

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