File Mail Messages Faster in Mojave

In macOS 10.14 Mojave, Apple exposed a feature of Mail that was useful, but hard to find and use. For several versions of Mail, you’ve been able to select a message and choose Message > Move To Predicted Mailbox to file the email in the suggested mailbox. (If the Move To command is disabled, Mail hasn’t yet learned how to move messages like the selected one. Once it sees you move messages from your mother into your Family mailbox, for instance, it will suggest that destination in the future.) In Mojave’s Mail, there’s also now a Move To toolbar button. If it can predict where the message will go, just click it; if not, click and hold to bring up a menu of all your mailboxes.

Understanding Dark Mode in macOS 10.14 Mojave

The feature Apple is promoting most heavily with macOS 10.14 Mojave is Dark mode, which the company advertises as “a dramatic new look that helps you focus on your work… as toolbars and menus recede into the background.” Let’s look at what Apple has done with Dark mode, after which you’ll have a better idea of what to think about while trying it.

Enable Dark Mode

First, to turn Dark mode on, go to System Preferences > General and click the Dark thumbnail to the right of Appearance. Mojave immediately switches to Dark mode, turning light backgrounds dark and swapping the text color from dark to light.

While you’re in System Preferences, click over to the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane. If you scroll down in the Desktop Pictures list, you’ll discover a bunch of new wallpapers that blend well with Dark mode.

Dark Mode Support and Controls

You’ll notice that the color change takes place instantly not just in the Finder, but also in any apps that support Dark mode. Most of Apple’s apps support Dark mode and third-party developers are rapidly adding support to their apps as well. However, Dark mode requires explicit support from apps, so older apps that aren’t being updated will maintain their standard dark-on-light color schemes.

Some apps, such as Maps and Mail, give you additional options that change just how dark they get. In Maps, choose View > Use Dark Map to toggle between a dark map style and the familiar map style that mimics a paper map. Similarly, in Mail, go to Mail > Preferences > Viewing and deselect “Use dark backgrounds for messages” to return to a white background.

If you generally like Dark mode but have trouble reading light text on a dark background due to the reduced contrast, you may be able to choose a different font or style in the app’s preferences that makes the text more readable. Apps like Mail give you a fair amount of that sort of control.

For even more control over contrast, open System Preferences > Accessibility > Display. There you’ll find a Display Contrast slider that lets you make text lighter and backgrounds darker. You can also select Reduce Transparency to make it so items like the Dock and menu bar are solid colors, rather than allowing the background to bleed through. To separate dark and light further, select Increase Contrast, which increases the brightness of divider lines as well.

The Dark Side of Dark Mode

Contrast is necessary for pulling out fine details, but too much contrast can be uncomfortable or even painful—think about how you feel when someone turns on a bright light in a previously dark room. For visual comfort, it’s usually best to match your screen with the lighting of your surroundings. That’s why people who often work at night or with the window blinds down like dark modes—a bright screen seems brighter in a dimly lit room. That’s the theory behind the traditional dark text on a light background too, since the room will be quite light during the day.

So Dark mode can run into two problems. First is that using it during the day or in a brightly lit room may create an uncomfortable contrast between the screen and its surroundings. Controlling your room lighting can eliminate this as an issue. Second and more troubling, even apps that support Dark mode may have large content areas that are bright white, creating a strong contrast between the content area and the rest of the app. Many Web sites in Safari have this effect, as do documents in apps like Pages and Numbers. There’s no way around this scenario.

Even if Dark mode isn’t perfect, it’s worth a try if you have trouble looking at bright screens. Regardless, if it goes too far for you, one of the new dark wallpapers may be easier on your eyes. While most people aren’t overly light sensitive, a non-trivial percentage of the population is, particularly those who suffer from migraines or who have endured concussions, and those with a variety of ocular conditions. And if you’re on the other end of the spectrum—if Dark mode looks dirty and is hard to read, just stick with the traditional Light mode.

 

Tired of “Sent from my iPhone” as Your Email Signature?

When you use Apple’s Mail app on your iPhone to send email, the default signature is “Sent from my iPhone.” If you’d rather not advertise that fact with every email, or would prefer to change it to something more personal, don’t bother poking around in the Mail app itself. Instead, go to Settings > Mail > Signature, where you can change the signature to anything you like or delete it entirely. If you have multiple email accounts configured, such as one for work and one for home, you can also set a different signature for each.

What’s New in macOS 10.13 High Sierra and Its Main Apps

Although Apple’s eye-catching Desktop image of the High Sierra mountains makes it easy to confirm that your Mac is running High Sierra, the most noteworthy new features are invisible! These changes are aimed at improving your Mac’s performance. But, don’t worry that there’s nothing new in High Sierra to play with—you’ll find plenty to do in Apple’s apps, and we’ll share our favorite features below.

Apple’s invisible, under-the-hood changes modernize the Mac. The new APFS file system significantly improves how data is stored on your disk. It replaces the HFS+ file system, which dates from the previous century. You’ll notice the switch to APFS when you look up the size of a selected folder or duplicate a large file because the operation should run much more quickly. APFS also provides better FileVault encryption and reduces the chance of file corruption.

Also new is HEVC, a new video compression standard that will let videos stream better and take up less space on your drive, and HEIF, an image format that boasts significantly better compression to keep photos from overwhelming your drive. HEVC and HEIF have other advantages too, but they’re so embedded into High Sierra (and iOS 11) that all you’ll notice is more space. When you drag images and videos out of Photos, they’ll come out in familiar formats suitable for sharing.

Photos 3

In Photos, it’s now easier to browse your photos from the always-on sidebar on the left side of the window. Photo editing is also more streamlined, with the Edit screen now separated into three tabs: Adjust, Filters, and Crop.

You can now edit Live Photos! Look at the bottom of the Adjust tab for controls for picking any frame as the static “key” frame, trimming the video, and applying special effects. The most interesting effect blurs the Live Photo by turning the 3-second mini-movie into a single long exposure.

Those who are into tweaking photos by hand should check out the new Curves and Selective Color options on the Adjust tab. Or, if you’d prefer that your Mac do the heavy lifting, try the new filters on the Filters tab.

Our favorite new feature is more of a fix—when you train Photos to match faces with names, that training will now sync through iCloud Photo Library to your other Apple devices. About time!

Finally, for serious photographers, Apple has at long last brought back round-trip editing of a photo in an external app, like Pixelmator or Photoshop.

Safari 11

A new Websites tab in Safari’s preferences lets you specify Web sites that should always open in Safari’s clutter-reducing Reader View, blocks some ads and auto-play videos, lets you set the zoom level on a per-site basis, and more. We like to tweak these options for the current Web page by choosing Safari > Settings for This Website to open a popover with the necessary controls.

And in the “Thank you, Apple!” category, Safari now offers Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP), which limits advertisers’ cross-site tracking of where you’ve been online.

Notes 4.5

Notes now offers a capable Table feature and a handy File > Pin Note command that puts the selected note at the top of its list rather than listing it by order last edited. Neither feature is earth shattering, but we’re enjoying both already.

Mail 11

Behind the scenes, Mail gets a welcome change you probably won’t notice—according to Apple, message storage now takes 35% less space.

More obvious is how Mail revamped its behavior in full-screen view. Instead of the message-composition area overlapping most of the Mail window, the screen splits, and your new message appears at the right. This layout simplifies viewing an older message while drafting a new one.

FaceTime 4

A fun new FaceTime option is taking a Live Photo of your call. It’s a perfect way to record mini-movies of far-away relatives. If the person you’re chatting with allows Live Photos in FaceTime’s preferences, hover over the FaceTime window to see and then click the round Shutter button.

Spotlight

Spotlight isn’t exactly an app, but it lets you search for anything on or off your Mac. Click the magnifying glass icon at the right of your menu bar—or press Command-Space bar—to start, and then enter your search terms. New in High Sierra, you can enter an airline flight number to see oodles of flight-related info.

High Sierra won’t radically change how you use your Mac, but we’re in favor of anything that makes our Macs run faster and keeps our drives from filling up so fast. Should you upgrade? Yes. When? That’s another story.

Peek Inside a Message in Mail with 3D Touch

On an iPhone 6s or 7, you can use 3D Touch on an item in Mail’s message list to peek inside without loading the entire message. Just press hard on a message summary to bring up a more complete preview of the message. Either let up to close the preview or press harder without lifting your finger to load the full message. You can also swipe up while previewing the message to reveal commands for Reply, Reply All, Forward, Mark, Notify Me, and Move Message. It’s faster than going back and forth repeatedly from the message list to individual messages.

Swipe Your Email Cares Away in Mail

Email overload is almost a given today, and there are oodles of apps, techniques, and advice on how to better manage the many messages that flood your inbox every day. Honestly, dealing with too much email is a little like dieting — almost any approach will work, at least for a while, so the hard part is finding what fits best with your working style. But we’re here to help you use your Apple devices better, not convince you of the One True Path to Email Bliss.

For today’s lesson, then, we’re going to learn about swiping, either on the screen of an iPhone or iPad running iOS 9 or later, or on the trackpad or Magic Mouse of a Mac running OS X 10.11 El Capitan or later. By swiping left or right on a message in the message list, you can quickly manage the message. It’s a fast way to work through email that doesn’t require a reply, and let’s face it, most doesn’t.

Swiping on the iPhone or iPad: In iOS, when you swipe a short distance right on an unread message (from left to right), Mail displays a Read button. You can either tap it or keep swiping to the right to mark the message as read. If the message has already been read, that button changes to Unread. This swipe is great for those who like marking messages as unread to keep them around for later processing.

Swipe left (from right to left) a short distance, and you get three buttons, Archive, Flag, and More. Tap Archive to store the message in an Archive mailbox (or All Mail for Gmail users), which is good for getting it out of your face without deleting it, and Flag marks the message with a flag so you can find it again easily in Mail’s Flagged mailbox — some people do this to track messages that need replies or other actions. Swipe all the way to the left to archive the message with one motion. (If you see Trash instead of Archive, that’s fine. We talk more about configuring which buttons you see shortly.)

If you tap More, you get a bunch of additional options, depending on the message, that include: Reply, Reply All, Forward, Show Related Messages, Mark (which offers options for flagging, marking as read/unread, and marking as spam), Notify Me (which alerts you when anyone replies to the message), and Move Message (for filing in another folder). Mail is smart enough not to let you reply to automatically generated messages.

Do you prefer to flag messages with a single swipe instead of a swipe and a tap? Go to Settings > Mail > Swipe Options and choose which buttons appear when you swipe right or left. If you like deleting messages instead of archiving them, select Archive in the Swipe Right settings and it will become Trash automatically if the account requires swiping left to offer the Archive button.

Remember that you can always shake your iOS device to undo an errant swipe action!

Swiping on the Mac: On the Mac, swiping works the same way, but fewer options are available. You can swipe right with two fingers to mark a message as read or unread, depending on its current status, or you can swipe left to delete or archive the message.

As with Mail in iOS, you can twiddle the delete/archive setting by choosing Mail > Preferences > Viewing. Choose Trash or Archive from the Move Discarded Messages Into pop-up menu.

That’s it! Take a few minutes and practice swiping, and before long you’ll be marking, flagging, and archiving messages with just a flick of the finger.

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