5 Simple Tricks to Make OS X Mail Better and Faster

The Mail app in OS X Mavericks can be the best email client around, but it takes a little tweaking to really make it work well.

From viewing images better to helping Mail not slow your Mac down, these tips all help you interact with OS X Mail more smoothly, so you hopefully hate email a little less.

1. Use Classic Layout to See More Messages

Mail has a new view format that Apple feels looks better and gives you a better user experience. But in this case, “better” is a relative term.

The new view limits the number of emails you can see at a time without scrolling. It also hides a preview of an email’s contents, making it more time-consuming to check your inbox.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix this and get Mac Mail working well again.

With the app open, click on the Mail menu in the OS X menu bar and then choose Preferences.
Selecting Preferences from OS X Mail drop-down menu

With Preferences open, click on the Viewing tab. Check the “Use classic layout” box, then close Preferences.

Viewing tab in Mac Mail Preferences window

Now you should see a list of emails at the top of the window with a preview at the bottom. If you deal with a lot of email, you’ll love this change.

2. Get Mail Faster by Updating Check Frequency

By default, Mail will only check for new messages every 5 minutes. Even though getting instant notification of email can hurt productivity, some people still need it. If you’re one of them, here’s how to speed things up.

Open up Mail Preferences (Mail menu > Preferences) and click on the General tab. Here, next to “Check for new messages,” select “Every minute” from the drop-down.

General tab in Mac Mail Preferences window

Note: If you use Exchange-type servers for your email, you can select “Automatically” from the list and you’ll get instant notification. Otherwise, with this option selected you’ll get notified every 5 minutes.

3. Take Advantage of VIP

While you probably get a lot of emails in a day, you most likely only get important emails from a select few people. That’s why Apple added VIPs to Mail, so you can easily see emails from the most important senders.

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To set a sender as a VIP, open any email from that sender and click the star directly to the left of their name or email address (it may not appear until your mouse is near the name or address). The star will start as only an outline and will fill in when the sender is a VIP.

Closeup of VIP star next to sender name in OS X Mail message

There’s a lot you can do once a sender is a VIP, such as create custom lists, filters, and even notifications. You can also just leave them as a VIP and they’ll show up with a star next to them in your inbox. You should also see a new folder called “VIPs” in your Mailboxes sidebar, where all emails from any VIP senders will show up as well.

4. Turn Off Image Previews

If you’re using a slower Mac or if you get a lot of emails with images in them, this tip can make your experience in Mail a lot faster, thereby making your Mac faster, too.

By default, images show inline when attached to a message in Mail. There’s no simple toggle to turn this off, but a quick Terminal command can do the job.

Open up Terminal and paste the following command into it, then hit Return.

defaults write com.apple.mail DisableInlineAttachmentViewing -bool true

Mac OS X Terminal window with code

Now you’ll get the chance to load each image individually. Want things back the way they were? Change “true” at the end of the command above to “false” and things will be back to normal.

5. Use Quick Look to Preview Web Pages

Mail gives you the ability to view Web pages as preview windows inside of the email message without clicking the link.

This is great if you’re unsure about a link or if you just want to see what new conspiracy theory your mother sent you without going to the site itself.

To use this feature, hover over any link in the email message and click the down arrow that appears at the end of the link. A preview window will open with the Web page in it.

Mac Mail Quick Look showing preview of Web page in email message

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