Mac OS X’s Mail: MsgFiler for moving messages around

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Mail
January 15th, 2010 • 4:19 pm

After reading my post on spring-loading and scrolling in Mail’s mailbox drawer, a couple of Betalogue readers wrote to suggest that I use a Mail plug-in called MsgFiler.

Unlike AppleScript scripts or Mail-Act On rules, MsgFiler can be used to move messages to any mailbox in your mailbox drawer. The idea is that you define an application-wide keyboard shortcut for the “Move with MsgFiler” command that gets added to the “Message” menu in Mail after you’ve installed the plug-in.

With this keyboard shortcut, you invoke a small window where you can start typing the name of the intended destination, i.e. of the mailbox folder to which you want to move the selected message(s). MsgFiler finds and lists all mailboxes matching your typing, much like a utility like LaunchBar, which I use all the time.

Once you have narrowed down the list in MsgFiler to your intended destination (either by typing more characters or by using the cursor keys to select the desired item in the list), you can just move the selection to the destination by pressing Return.

MsgFiler works as advertised and is reasonably priced. But I had tried it a while back and decided not to purchase it because, in my experience, it still required too many keystrokes to obtain the desired destination.

Unlike LaunchBar, as far as I can tell, MsgFiler does not have a smart abbreviation engine that “learns” your preferred destinations based on abbreviated versions of their names. It just matches what you type to the actual names of the mailbox folders.

If, like me, you have lots of subfolders that start with the same word, then you need to type not just that whole word but the beginning of the next one (or hit the cursor keys multiple times to select the right item in the list of matches). For example, I have mailbox folders called “Betalogue – Admin,” “Betalogue – Mail,” “Betalogue – Feedback,” etc. In order to select one specific mailbox in that group, I have to type “Betalogue –” and then the first few letters of the next word. That’s a lot of typing.

The same issue applies to family members. I have a mailbox for each family member and, of course, many of them have the same last name, which I usually type first so that mailboxes are sorted alphabetically. Here again, in order to narrow things down to a specific mailbox, I have to type the whole last name and then the first few letters of the first name. Again, that’s a lot of typing.

That said, I will definitely give MsgFiler another try and see if I can live with its limitations and still improve the overall experience of moving stuff around in Mail.

(I am also reluctant to spend additional money and of course increase the risk of incompatibilities and instability in Mail by adding yet another plug-in.)

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