The Mail Composition Window

When you compose a new message in Mail, you are usually spending a very short amount of time in the Mail composition window and it is easy to miss some of the features. At the top of the window you can use various buttons and add more. You can also change the fields available to you, such as adding or removing CC and BCC fields and even a REPLY-TO field. In the message body area, you can use styling and also mark up images and PDFs.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: The Mail Composition Window.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let's take a close look at the Mail Composition Window.

It is easy to overlook the Mail Composition Window. If you go File, New Message, usually at this point you have a singular purpose in mind which is to compose this message, or reply to one, and get that thing sent. You don't actually really look at this window very often. It is not like Safari or Pages or something where you kind of stare at the window for awhile. It appears, you do your task, and then you dismiss it. So it is easy to miss what is here.

So, let's take a look. You've got, at the top, some fields you can fill in with things like who you are sending the email to, the subject line, and where it is coming from. Notice in From you can select any of your email accounts. Here are all of my sample email accounts and I can have it going From anyone of those. These two are even the same email account. They are just versions of it; and versions and I can switch it so that when somebody replies to this email it comes to that specific address.

There is also a pulldown for signatures and you've got the large area here for composing your message.

Now you have some control over which fields are here at the top. If you click on this button you can, for instance, add the bcc field (blind carbon copy field) and I can put addresses in there. People that would get this email but nobody else sees who they are as opposed to the cc field where everybody sees who gets those.

I can add or remove various ones very easily here. I can even add a Reply To field which can make it look like the email is coming from this address but then I can put something different in the Reply To so when someone hits reply it goes there instead.

There is even a Priority field. Not used by everybody but if you know somebody that pays attention to their email priority you can send to say a High Priority to make sure that they pay attention to it.

So there is a lot of different options you can do here with these fields.

Now you have some other buttons here at the top as well. For instance, instead of copy and pasting or dragging and dropping an attachment into a message you can use this button here. Just simply select it.

You can also bring up some controls here for the font, font sizes, and styles, and things like that. Keep in mind that anytime you use anything like this it is going to go beyond plain text it really depends on what the receiver at the other end is using. If they are not using Mac Mail, if they are using a completely different type of way of reading email, maybe web based, maybe through their ISP, maybe they are on an old windows machine with an old email client, they may not see exactly what you are sending.

But most people nowadays will see simply things like bold and coloring and some fonts, of course. If they don't have the font on their machine that might be a problem as well. So you want to use this stuff with caution but a little bold here and there for emphasis doesn't hurt.

You also have the ability to really easily attach photos. Show or Hide the photo browser there and then you can easily attach photos. You have this little thing here where you can bring up the stationery. This attaches ultra customized emails with all sorts of graphics. A lot of people have trouble reading these if they are not using Mac Mail because they have to support all the different things that are in these messages.

You can actually add more to here. You can control click here and customized the toolbar and add some different things to it.

So, for instance, the ability to quickly switch between rick text and plain text is a button you can add in or to be able to add a list in or easily format lists, things like that. You can also add this button which is kind of interesting. You can add this Append button here and this allows you to append other messages. So the message I selected is this iBooks email here and you can see I appended it in there. It is kind of like forwarding an email but I can actually forward multiple emails selecting them in this window and then hitting this button there.

So there is all sorts of interesting functionality if you poke around and what is available with these buttons.

Now the message body area that you are typing in is just like any other area you might type in whether it is in a web browser or in Pages or in TextEdit. There is a lot of different things you can do. For instance, if you select the text and hit control and click you get all these controls here like Spelling and Grammar controls, Substitutions (whether or not you use Smart Quotes or Smart Dashes.) Things like that. Transformations like I can make the entire thing uppercase if I wanted to without having to retype it.

So there is all sorts of different things that you can do in here that you can add just like you can anywhere else that you are editing text, just about.

Now here I've attached an image I've just dragged and dropped into the message body and Yosemite adds the ability to do things with images and PDFs. I get this little button when I roll the mouse over and I can click and go to Markup. This gives me some tools for editing here. I can draw on it for instance. I can add some text. All sorts of different things that I can do to this image if I want before I send it. I hit Done and you can see it has edited the image. Now when the person receives it they will receive the image with these marks.

Comments: 16 Responses to “The Mail Composition Window”

    4 years ago

    Is there a way to make the “image” clickable or where it would “link” to another site in a browser? I haven’t been able to do that with Mail….

      4 years ago

      You can, by making complex HTML mail documents. But I don’t think you can do it in Mail. The problem is that even if you could do it, it wouldn’t work for some people on the other end. It depends on what they are using to read their email with. Some people would see it as an attachment, some as an embedded image with no link, etc. Unless we could force everyone to use email apps with the same functionality, features like this will be tough to implement.

    4 years ago

    Gary, this may be more than you wanna address but Mail really has strange behaviours. For example, email messages that I sent days ago, sometimes they re-appear within a folder for that account, and they are marked as unread messages. Or messages that I know were sent and received sometimes they re-appear as drafts. Any ideas?

      4 years ago

      My first thought would be your email service, not the Mail app. After all, the Mail app is just reflecting what information it gets from the server. Secondly, it could be your settings on both the server-side and settings that affect how your Mail app communicates with the server, Lots of things to look into.

    Shirley Allan
    4 years ago

    Since Yosemite, my text that I type in the body of the mail has an inconsistent lag before it appears on the screen. Sometimes the lag is long enough for a few cuss words! I even added $200 worth of memory to 16 GB to see if that would correct it. Nothing seems to help. Any ideas?

      4 years ago

      Hard to say what could be causing this. It might be some other software that you have installed. I’d have an expert take a first-hand look (Genius Bar, maybe?)

        Shirley Allan
        4 years ago

        Thanks Gary, but I’ve not installed any new programs and it is a 27 inch, kind of hard to lug around. Apple Dicussinons has a lot to say on the Text Lag but no answers.

    Donald Geiling
    4 years ago

    Sometimes when I include an attachment, the recipient says, “there was no attachment” when I know there was. This happens even when I check the box to make it “windows friendly.” Any way to fix this?

      4 years ago

      You’ve got to investigate to find the real problem. Most likely it is the recipient not understanding how to get to the attachment. It varies by email client which could be anything from Mac Mail, to Windows Outlook to web-based Gmail — and hundreds of other options. Perhaps convince them to get some IT help on their end to figure it out.

    Jeff Widen
    4 years ago

    I send short stories I’ve written to friends after converting them to PDF for their convenience. When they appear on the mail text section, I haven’t been able to write a comment about the piece just above it. I know (think I know) that it might be something simple. Any suggestions?
    I appreciate your tutorials a lot. Jeff

      4 years ago

      Hard to say without seeing what you are doing and knowing more. Are you using Yosemite? In System Preferences, Extensions, Actions is “Markup” turned on? If so, then what exactly do you mean by “haven’t been able to?” For instance, do you not see the Mark Up button appear when you roll over the PDF?

      Scott Beattie
      4 years ago

      Jeff – I think I know what you are referring to. It seems that when I add an attachment (pdf, document, image, etc.) – it appears right in the body of the email – and at first it seems that it is not possible to type and introductory message directly above the email. What you need to do is carefully locate the cursor to the immediate top left of the image or document in the email body – and then press return to open up some space to type your response.

        4 years ago

        Oh, so you mean you just want to put some text in the body of the email message before the attachment. I thought you meant using the Mark Up feature to write ON the PDF. You could also just put the cursor anywhere in the message and backspace to the beginning. Or, use Command+A to select all and then backspace to go to the beginning, etc. Then insert a Return after your text so your image comes on the line after it, not on the same line.

        Jeff Widen
        4 years ago

        Thanks, Scott. I had to do one more thing (for that to work for me): I saved the Pages article to my desk top then share-email(ed) it. The pdf icon appeared on the text area of the email. Then I could use your advice.

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