Forever For Now – Optimizing Mail.app Performance


Forever For Now – Optimizing Mail.app Performance

Introduction

Background

Mac OS X comes with a very usable e-mail client called Mail.app or simply Mail, but it tends to slow down a bit over time, especially when moving around large amounts of e-mails from multiple accounts.

This guide will help you optimize the performance of Mail. I’ve listed
some useful tips for dealing with large hierarchically stored mail
archives. To get the most out of these tips, you’ll want to be using
Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or higher.

Optimizing Mail’s Internal Database

What it does

Mail keeps track of your e-mail messages in several different locations, but the main location is the Library/Mail
folder in your home directory. In this folder you will find every
single e-mail message in each account stored as a separate file.
Spotlight uses these files to keep track of e-mail contents.

Mail additionally stores a so-called Envelope Index
which contains cross references between message subjects, contents and
other interesting aspects. Over time, this index becomes less and less
efficient and slows down Mail.

Luckily, the Envelope Index is stored as a database in a well
known format. This enables you to use tools for optimizing performance,
which sounds a lot more difficult than it really is.

Performing the optimization

Optimizing Mail’s Envelope Index is very simple. Follow these simple instructions to make Mail snappy again:

  • Quit Mail from the menu or using Apple + Q and wait until the black arrow disappears from Mail’s Dock icon.
  • Open up Terminal using Spotlight via Alt + Space or start it from the Applications/Utilities folder.
  • Type or copy the following line into the Terminal window:


sqlite3 ~/Library/Mail/Envelope\ Index vacuum

Finally, press Enter to perform the
action and wait until it finishes, this can take anywhere from a few
seconds to minutes depending on the amount of mail.

What has just happened?

The action performed in the Terminal will clean up Mail’s internal
database, saving disk space and speeding up the application. Dissecting
the action bit by bit reveals the following:

  • sqllite3 refers to the command for manipulating the database. Mail uses the SQLite database library which provides the sqlite3 command line tool.
  • ~/Library/Mail/Envelope\ Index refers to the actual file in which Mail’s database is stored.
  • vacuum refers to the action we want to perform on the database. Vacuuming is jargon for cleaning up unused space in the database and packing the data tightly together.

Example scenario

Of course I tried all this out on my own setup and I measured Mail’s
speed and index size prior to and after optimizing. The results are
amazing.

Prior to optimization Mail took about ten seconds to start up
and switching to other mailboxes took about as long. The Envelope Index
was 12 megabytes in size, with my Mail folder totaling just around 51
megabytes.

After optimizing the index, Mail starts up in less than one
second and switching mailboxes takes about as much. The Envelope Index
is now 3 megabytes, which is four times smaller than before. My total
Mail library now counts 42 megabytes.

The performance increase is really tremendous and I urge every
Mail user to try this trick out, it will seem as if you have just
bought a new Mac.

Now you might say that my mailbox is relatively small in size
(see the following tip) but I do have more than 5.000 e-mails stored
locally. Even with this dataset, the speedup is very evident.

Stumble It!

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Free Mac To-do List Managers


Free Mac To-do List Managers: “

There are numbers of To-do List Managers available for your Mac: from to-do list managers that adopt minimalism to those that provide feature-rich services, from those with expensive pricing tags to those set as donation wares.

Though many prefer commercial apps that are assumed to be complete in feature, I personally feel like to explore free apps that sometimes can be used to substitute those commercial ones.

Some free to-do list managers listed below will help you in saving your pocket money as well as getting things done…

EtreTask

Homepage |
Download



With EtreTask, we can save as many tasks as we want and along with that, we can also add Description and link to Resources. Even though we have short memory loss, we still can figure out things to be done by reading the details.

Anxiety

Homepage |
Download



Anxiety is a to-do list application that has sleek interface and always floats over anything else (which I feel a bit distracting). With Anxiety, you can directly map your tasks with iCal, adding additional time detail for you.

TaskMate

Homepage |
Download



If simple to-do list is your preference, you will want to have a free copy of TaskMate. TaskMate helps you keep track of your tasks and activities whether it’s on waiting queue or already done.

CheckOff

Homepage |
Download



CheckOff, which runs on background, helps you seamlessly keep track of your tasks. Hanging on your menu bar, CheckOff with least distraction provides you with simple checklist interface to capture tasks and categorize them.

iGTD 2 (Alpha)

Homepage |
Download



If you’re the type of person that like to arrange things in an organized manners, iGTD 2 will be the most suitable choice for you. iGTD 2, as shown on the screenshot, helps you capture as much information as you need, especially the most important time information to determine deadline of your tasks.

Do It

Homepage |
Download



As simple to-do list application, Do It manages your categorized to-do lists, where each item can be linked to a file on your Mac. Apart from its minimalistic interface, Do It is also integrated with other Mac applications, such as Address Book, Quicksilver and iCal.

DeskBox

Homepage |
Download



Lastly…

There is a high chance that you’ve known some amazing to-do lists that you love, you can share it with others, perhaps. If I’ve missed any or you’ve any suggestions, please inform me with the comment box provided below.

(Via UsingMac.com – Home.)

Tags Tags Just About Everything!


Tags Tags Just About Everything!: “

Many say that tags are the new categories. They allow you to have a free form organisational structure. A single file can be classified into so many different categories, where each tag is a separate unit of classification. Tags from Gravity Applications, aims at providing you with a central user interface to tag basically everything on your Mac. I’ve been using this app for some time now, and here are my impressions. 

tags-mac-review

How it works

The main UI of Tags is a floating palette. Select any object, it could be a file, email, iPhoto pictures, Address Book contacts, Photoshop windows or basically any application that supports AppleScript, and hit the magic customisable shortcut Ctrl+Space. You can then enter any tag that you fancy. For instance, if I get an email from a developer, I tag it with ‘dev’. If it mentions something about a review, I tag it ‘review’. Same say, if I’m surfing the web, and I come across an application that I really want to write about, I hit the shortcut, and type in ‘review’. So the email and bookmark belong to the same tag (as to many applications installed in my Applications folder).

Tags once entered auto complete so you don’t have to type in the same thing over and over again. Tags can also be made to show your recently used tags, as well as show your favourite tags. The tag manager can be used to specify which are your favourites, as well as delete some of them. This way, you don’t even have to type out your tags.

You can of course attach tags to multiple objects, as well as drag and drop files into the tag window. One thing I noticed is how you cannot tag files from different locations with a tag. For instance, if I have three files in three different locations, I’d like to have been able to drag and drop them into the Tags window and set my tags. Unfortunately, dragging a new item only replaces the earlier one.

‘Where did I put that file!’

Tags integrates with the built in spotlight search, so I can effectively search for ‘review’ in Finder and all those files and emails tagged with email will show up in the results. You can also use the tags UI itself (the search is on the flip side) to search through tags. Enter the tags, or just click on the same favourites and recents to search through your files. You can search for multiple tags to narrow down your search results. 

tags-mac-search-review1

The spotlight search tool however can be made to search only for tags by using the tag condition. For instance, searching for ‘tag:review’ will bring up only those files which are tagged so. You can also do saved searches in the Finder sidebar to quickly take a glance at all your items that have been tagged so. The tags can also be used in the search window of Mail, Address Book and such.

tags-spotlight-search

To Tag or not to Tag…

The question of the hour. I forced myself to tag things during this review period, and I can say the results are fruitful. I don’t tag everything, but say I’m working on a document in Pages, I just hit the shortcut and quickly add a tag to it. The process is so quick, that you can be almost instinctive with it. I still use Things to organise reviews and posts that go up on queue, but Tags is much broader than that. I don’t have to think about how I’m tagging, and most of my commonly used tags were right there within easy reach. 

To sum up, Tags is easy to use, extremely quick and responsive, and useful to the point of not having to worry about ‘where to put the file’. The fact that it works in almost every app you could possibly tag makes this the perfect way to start using tags. Tags costs a reasonable $29 for a single user license, a trial version is also available for 30 days. I’d highly recommend you give the trial a good run to see what this app is capable of. They even have a spiffy screencast done explaining how best to use it.

The Tags Giveaway!

Here we are again with another giveaway. This time round we have two licenses of Tags! Our thanks to Gravity Apps for this offer. How do you win? The rules are simple.

  1.  A single entry per person.
  2. Valid email address (only to contact the winner)
  3. Download the trial and let us know, whether this application (and the universal concept of tagging) make sense to you, or are you content with the way of organising your files into the 1980s folder structure?
  4. (Optional) Tweet or blog about it, with the words ‘@smokingapples’ and a shorturl back to this page for another entry into the draw.

Winners will be announced in a week. 

(Via Smoking Apples.)