Scripts to help you get to inbox zero

Mailbox zero is a holy-grail for most working people, even inspiring snarky essays in The New Yorker. The only way I’m able to keep up with the endless flood of messages is by making processing as easy as possible, which means getting mail out of my mail software and into applications where I do, and track, real work: Evernote and Omnifocus.

To do this, I’ve been building a number of Applescripts to automate this process, and make it as easy as possible. Here’s how.

Outlook

Outlook for Mac can access scripts stored in your script menu folder, but this folder is a bit hidden. The fastest way to find it is to hit Cmd-Shift-G while in Finder and typing “~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Outlook Script Menu Items/” — this will bring the folder right up.

That said, dumping scripts in this folder isn’t all that useful. It’s not much faster to have to select the script menu any time you want to take an action (though you could — it’s the scroll icon in the menu bar of Outlook). The real secret is assigning scripts to hotkeys, which you can do by ending the file name with something like cE (just before the .scpt).

The “c” bit is the first part of the hotkey — in this case, control — and “E” is the second part. While in Outlook, if I hit control-E, it’ll trigger the script with that file name. “cm” will do the same thing with command instead of control.

I’ve put the scripts I use and wrote on Github. One script archives all your mail to a single folder (I’ve given up on sorting archived mail — search works just fine). The second sends the message to Evernote, which is fantastic for archiving. I also use Rainer Burgstaller’s fantastic Outlook to Omnifocus script.

Mail

The only way I know to add hotkeys to Mail is with the excellent Mail Act-on plugin. This lets you do basic tasks — like sending mail to an archive — straight from Mail.app, which simplifies things!

Sending to other apps requires the use of AppleScript, just like Evernote. To add a script (once you’ve installed Mail Act-on), open up rules, and add the action of “Run AppleScript”. On the right, you’ll see a drop down menu with a list of all the AppleScripts you’ve installed into mail. The bottom one is “Open in Finder” which will send you right to the proper folder.

Save any script there, and you can set up a rule like this:

Rules_and_milesskorpen__Miles_Skorpen_

I’ve got one Mail.app script up now, exporting files to Evernote. It nearly duplicates the Outlook script, with some minor modifications. You can find it on Github.

 

Miles

I’m a senior product manager for OpenTable’s consumer products. I focus on major features, including our loyalty program, diner profiles, social integrations, and new business exploration.