Archive in Apple's mail.app

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by schmoofee, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. schmoofee macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    #1
    Hello forums colleagues...

    Yosemite Mail has an Archive folder out of the box. I have attached a screenshot. I do not understand how "Archive" works and could use some help understanding how it works. It appears messages end up there automatically. Is that true?

    My questions so far are:
    1) How do messages get there?
    2) What is its relationship to the InBox?
    3) what is its purpose?

    Please add any other related information which you think would help me and others on this list. If you know of any articles online, I would appreciate links to those resources too.

    Thank you
    Neil
     

    Attached Files:

  2. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Sunny, Southern California
    #2
    I am wondering if this has anything to do with the way you setup the email account. Do you have emails that you have read go to the delete folder or go to the archive folder?
     
  3. vrillusions macrumors regular

    vrillusions

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio, US
    #3
    (yeah this is rather long winded, scroll to bottom for the TL;DR)

    First off, a little background on how emails are stored (either on your own computer or the mail server you're connecting to). There are two main ways of storing email: each email in it's own file or a single file that has all the email for that folder. The technical pros and cons of each method can get, well, technical. Just keep in mind that usually a single folder with 1000s of files is slower than a single large file. You may have noticed this when copying files and larger files like videos seem to transfer faster than an equivalent amount (in terms of disk space used) of smaller music or pictures. Conversely, if you want to delete 10 emails in the middle of this large file, it takes time to scan for those emails, remove them, and then save the modified file. TL;DR: So in either case it's best to not have a lot of messages in a single folder

    Now, the way apple mail or really any mail works is when you start it up it reads the "Inbox" of the current account you're viewing. Usually this is the first account you have setup or it may be the last one you were looking at when you closed it. It has to do this to present you a list of emails, if you've read them, when it was sent, all that stuff. As this is something it must do to present you the list of email the system is sorta twiddling it's thumbs waiting to get the contents of the inbox folder. So the faster the inbox loads the more responsive the app and since a fewer list of messages is faster to process than a large one your inbox folder should not have a lot* of messages in it.

    So far this has all been talking about your computer. Remember that the server, when you first connect, has to compose the list of emails to send to you. It only transmits the "headers" (sender, subject, time sent, and a couple other items) but still sending 10,000 headers is going to take longer than 100.

    So if you have email that you want to keep, but if you let it accumulate in inbox then it will progressively make mail seem slow where do you put it? That's where the archive folder comes in.

    Any email that is important should be moved out of inbox when it is no longer important to see immediately. Stuff like order confirmations after you've received the items, financial emails, etc. There's several methods of this (you'll hear terms like "inbox zero" and "GTD for email" and such all address this in one form or another) but the simplest one is to move it to an archive folder.

    Prior to mail having a built in option (I think it was added in Mavericks?) I would just have a folder, called 'archive'. In that folder I'd make another one for the year and that would be the final resting place for email that I wanted to keep. The archive folder and archive command (ctrl-cmd-a) are simpler. It sends all mail to a single "Archive" folder.

    To my knowledge you have to actively choose archive from the "messages" menu option or via the keyboard shortcut. You can setup mail filters that auto archive mail in inbox that's 6 months old or some other value but out of the box I don't think it does that.

    TL;DR:

    • How do messages get there? - via choosing the Archive option under the Messages menu item, via the hotkey of ctrl-cmd-a, or as an action taken by a mail filter
    • What is its relationship to the InBox? - it's a separate folder from the inbox, stored on the server if it's setup as IMAP or gmail.
    • what is its purpose? - stores mail that you want to keep but don't need to see every time you start mail. This keeps the list of messages in the inbox shorter which helps prevent mail from getting bogged down and improves load time and general snappiness

    * as far as what could be considered "a lot" of messages. Generally when my inbox has 1000 messages in it I start getting antsy. I've had to troubleshoot coworkers who have said mail is slow (my day job is sysadmin / desktop support) and one of the common fixes is moving the 20,000+ messages in their inbox to an archive folder. The reason this doesn't slow things down is those 20,000 messages aren't getting loaded at startup, only if you view the archive folder.
     

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