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In apple's Mail.app program, is there a way to file messages into a given folder (in my case, my catch-all "archive" folder) using a single keystroke? There is on Thunderbird (I just type the letter "a" while in my message list view, and it's done).

On Mac mail, the native way seems to be only by dragging and dropping. I installed "Mail Act-on", which adds keyboard shortcuts, but there's still 2 keys (an F-key and then another key). That's even suckier for me b/c on a mac laptop, using the Function keys requires a double keystroke (fn + F-key) so it turns out to be a 3 keystroke thing.

I'd be willing to accept a keyboard shortcut that involved a control key (e.g. Command + a), if it was easily reached, but the only one available by default is the "move to X again", which requires remembering the last place you moved something, and doesn't work well for a multi-account setup. I'd love the ability for it to automatically move messages to the right archive folder depending on account (work vs personal) - i.e. a single key ("a") moves work messages into the work archive and personal messages into the personal archive.

(I know this might seem stupid or overly specific, but for something I do hundreds of times a day, that makes a big difference over time; Thunderbird can do it, I've come to expect it.)

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4 Answers 4

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With Mail Act-On you can use the control key in conduction with the Act-On key. So it the rule has the A keystroke, ctrl-A will run the rule

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Aha - that's exactly what I needed, Scott. I've created two rules, both assigned to the letter "a", and hitting control a moves the messages to the right destination, based on whichever rule(s) apply to the message. That's quicker than F-key followed by a number, though that's also a good way. –  Ian Varley Aug 25 '10 at 14:50

I use Mail Act-on as well and get through my email very quickly.

If you're keyboard-centric (as I guess, I see you've answered a question about emacs), you'll definitely want to toggle how the F-keys work on your macbook.

Go to the Keyboard settings and check the box that says "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys". The F-keys will then work without holding down Fn. If you want to increase the sound volume or access other mac F-key functions, you can hold down Fn.

I know this doesn't get you to one key email filing, but I think this will make a big difference.

alt text

Update: Intrigued by the idea of single key shortcuts, I looked at Mail Act-On's discussion forums and found a similar request. The bad news is that InDev support says it's not possible, but the good news is that they suggest locking the rule window in place by hitting F2 twice. After locking it in place, a single keystroke will work. So instead of 2N key strokes to file N messages, it's N+1.

p.s. I also recommend enabling tab to move among all controls, not just text boxes and lists. See the setting on the "Keyboard Shortcuts" pane of the Keyboard settings.

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Wicked--that brings it down from 3 to 2, thanks Doug! –  Ian Varley Aug 23 '10 at 18:51

With OSX Lion, there is now a new way to do that. OSX Lion includes a menu item Message / Archive, and using the Keyboard pane in System Preferences, I could assign a keyboard shortcut to this menu item. (I used Command-Shift-A.)

I still somehow think that it would be better to have annual subfolders, like Thunderbird has, but this is close enough imho.

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I wrote a script (post // download) to archive messages using a single keystroke in conjunction with any script launcher that can handle application-specific, single-character shortcuts.

Basic logic:

  • If the frontmost window is a mailbox, it archives selected messages and selects the next available message.

  • If the frontmost window isn’t a mailbox, the script will ignore the archiving functions and (optionally) type some text wherever you are. (This is useful if you use a single key to trigger the script; without this function, that key is intercepted by your launcher and can't be typed into a mail message.)

And if you don't need all the logic, here's a stripped down version that excludes all the context awareness, next-message-selection, etc:

tell application "Mail"
    set theSelectedMessages to selection
    repeat with theMessage in theSelectedMessages
        set theMailbox to "Archive"
        set theAccount to name of account of mailbox of theMessage
        move the theMessage to mailbox theMailbox of account theAccount
    end repeat
end tell

Finally, to trigger the script, I use Fastscripts, which can handle single-character, application-specific shortcuts. I tied the script to forward-slash, which is conveniently right next to Delete.

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