MacMost Now 67: Optimizing Mail

Gary Rosenzweig takes a look at how to clean up and optimize Apple Mail to save some hard drive space and speed it up.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 67: Optimizing Mail.

Hi, this is Gary Rosenzweig. If you've been using mail for a while, you know that your mail boxes can get pretty full. Especially if you save every e-mail like I do. Let's look at how you can optimize your OS10 mail program and maybe speed it up a bit.
So I like to save all of my e-mail, which means I have tens of thousands of e-mails on my machine, some dating back 10 years. Now, I like to use this as a business tool, to be able to search through them, or remind myself of old projects and things like that. But, sometimes it can be a bit cumbersome. So every once in a while I just do a few things just to clean it up a bit.
So one of the things I like to do is I like to remove a lot of attachments. Since I do a lot of work in media, sometimes I'm sending e-mails that have megabytes of attachments and sometimes I'm receiving them as well. These things aren't as important because, of course, I save them in other places. I don't really need them to be saved in my e-mail as well. So I'll go back and find an old e-mail that has an attachment, like, say, this one. And then I'll be able to go into the "Message" menu item, and there's a "Remove Attachments" option. Now, I can remove a single attachment from an e-mail. I can also select a whole ton of e-mails, everything in a folder, and use the same "Remove Attachments" option to remove them from all of them.
Now I found out that even in the most up-to-date version of mail, sometimes this doesn't work. So sometimes what I do is I create a Smart Mailbox that has any e-mail that has an attachment. It's pretty easy to do if you've used Smart Mailboxes before. And then I remove them from all of those. It seems to work perfectly if you do that. But if you instead select ten-thousand e-mails, of which only a few hundred have attachments, mail just doesn't seem to remove the attachments all the time. Hopefully it's a bug that will be fixed at some point.
Now the next step I like to do is to actually go into my "Saved" folder, which is where I put all of my e-mail after I'm done with it after I move it out of the "Inbox", it goes into the "Saved" folder. And I can sort it by file size. So I can actually go ahead into the "View" menu, "Columns," and add "Size." I just leave it there by default. And I can sort it by size and see what the biggest emails are, and maybe get rid of those or deal with those in some way.
Now you may want to sort by "Date Received" and delete all the e-mail that's, say, more than a year old. You may want to first archive all that e-mail. There are a couple ways to do this. One, is simply to go to the "Mailbox" menu and select "Archive Mailbox." That will create a file that has an archive of everything in that Mailbox. Then you can go and delete the old ones knowing you've got a copy somewhere. Another thing I like to do is sometimes go into my "User" folder and look in the library under "Mail" and you'll see that everything is in there. And simply archive that entire folder to a CD or DVD. This is a great way to back it up and be sure you've got it.
Now, once you've cleaned things up a bit, you still need to reclaim the space on the drive. Because what happens is, a lot of times you delete attachments or delete some e-mails and it kind of stays on the drive until you basically do this. Which is, to go into the "Mailbox" menu and select "Rebuild." Now you have to do this for each folder you've got. So say if you've got a "Saved" folder, or maybe a folder for a specific types of e-mail, like work, personal, that type of thing, you're going to have to do it for each of those folders. And if it's a big folder it can take several minutes to do it. Well once you do that, it will compact all that e-mail down to exactly what you need and give you some harddrive space back.
Optimizing mail is particularly important if you use Smart Mailboxes a lot. Smart Mailboxes, of course, are just searches that are performed on an ongoing basis. So you can have a Smart Mailbox that just has all the e-mail from several particular people, and you can find it very quickly as if it was all just one folder. But, these searches are performed constantly and if you've got tens of thousands of e-mails like I do, sometimes they can slow performance down.
Anyway, it's a good idea to probably clean out your e-mail, archive it , and improve performance at least once every six months. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: One Response to “MacMost Now 67: Optimizing Mail”

    11 years ago

    I’m looking for a script (using rules) to save certain attachments right when the e-mail arrives and delete the attachment in the e-mail after that. That would solve some of those problems… Perhaps you have an idea… Mex

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