Last week when we sadly ran up against our word count limit we were talking about “mining” data out of your email messages. If you’re an enlightened Mac user, it’s easy to get that mined data out of your email and into the applications on your Mac that are better suited to handling it. Let’s say you use Apple’s built-in Mail application to manage your email (an excellent choice, by the way). Let’s further say you receive an email from the kids with attached photos of your grandkids. Or, for you twenty-and-thirty-somethings in the audience, an email from your parents hard at play, spending your inheritance during their spring cruise to the Greek islands.
Anyway, you receive an email message laden with attached photos. Apple Mail gives you many options to view and save these photos. Attached photos appear, in their original sizes, in the body of the email message. Icons representing the attached photos are also available in an Attachments list. To “mine” these photos from the message you could drag and drop either the photos in the message body or the photo icons in the Attachments list into a folder or onto your Desktop. Like most email applications, Mail also has a “Save” button that will place the attached photos in your Downloads folder or a folder or your choosing.
But Mail goes two steps further. Clicking and holding down the “Save” button displays a drop-down menu containing an “Add to iPhoto” option, which imports the photos directly into iPhoto.
If you’re using Mac OS 10.5 “Leopard”, Mail also has a “Quick Look” button. As the name implies, Quick Look is a system-wide Leopard feature that lets you view the contents of almost every document on your Mac without opening the application that created it, or that you might normally use to view it. It’s quite ingenious.
Quick Look’s implementation in Mail opens an opaque window that floats above the other open windows on your Desktop. The window displays the photos attached to the email message, either full-size or full-screen. You can step through them individually, click a “Play” button to sit back and view a slideshow of the attached photos, view an Index Sheet (smaller thumbnails) of all the photos and select the one you want to see bigger, or import them into iPhoto.
By the way, Quick Look in Mail isn’t just for photos. Say someone attaches a PDF, MS Word, or MS Excel document. No problem. Quick Look displays them as well, without ever opening Preview, Adobe Reader (yuck), Word, or Excel. Sweet.
Let’s move on to backing up and saving your email for posterity. Different email applications manage and store email differently. For example, Apple Mail stores individual messages (in a proprietary .eml format, which is really a glorified text file) and attachments in subfolders of the “Mail” folder within the “Library” folder within the “Home” folder within my “User” folder. Sounds complicated, but it’s not. Microsoft’s Entourage application (part of Office for Mac) stores all email and attachments in a monolithic database file within the “Microsoft User Data” folder within the “Documents” folder within the “Home” folder within my “User” folder. So, if I’m backing up my “Home” folder (which I should be doing on a regular basis, as it also contains photos, music, documents, and the rest of my important stuff), I’m also backing up my email. No problem.Backing up data takes time and storage space. Your assignment for next week is to find out the size of the folder containing your email application’s stored messages and attachments. You may be appalled.
|© 2008 Peter F. Zimowski|