Get reminded of messages within Mail app

12 March 2016, 09:00

Let’s be blunt: The Mac’s email client is “very 20th century”, and lagging badly behind pretty much every new email client that’s been released in recent times. One of the key features of these clients is the ability to get reminded of emails. You can set an email to disappear until tomorrow, for example, or until the beginning of next week.

Below is a way to do something similar although not identical to this using the built-in Mail and Reminders apps. It makes use of an AppleScript created by GitHub user moritzregnier.

There’s quite a few steps involved in setting it up but once done you can rely on it in future.

  1. Start by opening Mail app, then opening its Preferences dialog box (Cmd+comma). Click the Accounts tab and make a note of the name of your default account, which will be listed in the Description field. On my Mac the account was called Google, for example. If you use Gmail then yours might too.
  2. Open the Reminders app and create a new reminders list called Email reminders. New lists can be created by clicking the Add List link at the bottom left.
  3. Open Automator, which you’ll find very near the top of your Applications list in Finder. If prompted click the New Document button, and then choose the icon marked Service (it’s an icon of a cog).
  4. At the top right of the Automator window, change the dropdown alongside Service Receives Selected to read No input. Then chance the dropdown list to the right of this to read Mail.
  5. In the search field within Automator, type AppleScript. This should filter the results to just one entry: Run AppleScript. Click and drag this over to the right of the window where it reads, “Drag actions or files here to build your workflow.”
  6. Delete all the purple text within the Run AppleScript field, and then visit this page and copy everything you see (i.e. Ctrl+A, then Ctrl+C). Then paste it into the Automator window where the purple text had been.
  7. Click the little hammer icon above the text field in AppleScript then expand the box by dragging its orange edge.
  8. Look through the AppleScript for the first line that’s black and green. It’ll read set Work1AccountName to “Work”. Change Work to read the name of your email account that you discovered in Step 1 above. Leave the quote marks in place.
  9. Change the line beneath this – that reads set Work1RemindersList to “Work” – so that Work is replaced with Email reminders. Again, leave the quote marks in place.
  10. In the Automator window click File > Save and for the name type something like Create reminder from email. Once saved you can close the Automator window.
  11. Open System Preferences, then click the Keyboard icon. Select the Shortcuts tab, and in the list at the left, select Services.
  12. Scroll to the bottom of the Services list and select your service you just created, which will be listed under the General heading under the name you typed when saving it.
  13. Click in the grey “none” field at the right of the entry, then click Add Shortcut. Now type a keyboard shortcut that you want to use for creating reminders from mails. Just hit the key combo you want – something like Cmd+Option+§ works well for this. Close System Preferences when done.

And that’s all that needs to be done. You can test it by selecting a message within Mail, then typing the keyboard shortcut you set. Then just follow the instructions. There’s no need to open Reminders for any of this to work but if you do you’ll see the mail appear in the new Email Reminders list you created earlier. When it’s time for the email reminder to appear, it will do so as a Reminders notification at the top right of the desktop.

Following this I like to archive the email because I attempt a zero-inbox approach and use Gmail, which has archiving functionality. You can archive an email by tapping Ctrl+Cmd+A.

All emails set to be reminders are flagged, so you can click the Flagged folder on both the Mac and iOS versions of Mail to view them, should you need to.

Leave a comment...

Ho, hi have a big problem with this applescript. When i try to save the mail in reminder the OS says me that there is a problem with this line of code “make new reminder with properties {name:theSubject, remind me date:remindMeDate, body:theUrl}”. Somebody help me?

— Alexandro · May 4, 05:44 AM · #