Is there a fast way in Mail.app for replying to frequent repetitive requests?
Hawk Wings reader Greg Bentz emails to ask:
I need to be able to save and email with information in it to be resent out repeatedly. I am in real estate and get the same questions over and over. I can do it outlook express but cannot figure out to do in Mail.
I know of two sensible ways to get this done fast and efficiently.
1. Use the MailTemplate plug-in
MailTemplate is a plug-in for Mail.app and Entourage that is designed to do this, and it does it well.
You can quickly access it from the Contextual menu in Mail.app.
It comes with a Template editor in which you can write your frequent replies. For example:
The fields enclosed with double carets (^^) are “smart fields”, that is, they pick up the information from the email to which you are replying.
So, when I get an email that needs one of these quick, repetitive replies, I just right-click on it, and select the right template from the Contextual menu:
And as if by magic, MailTemplate creates the reply:
One keystroke and the email is sent. All done. Productivity gurus like Merlin Mann of 43Folders swear by it.
MailTemplate is shareware (USD 14.95) and a demo is available from the developer’s web site
2. Use a text snippet manager like TextExpander
Snippet managers offer a different way to skin the same cat. There are loads of them around — here’s a list of some from MacUpdate. I prefer TextExpander (Shareware, USD 29.95—but see special offer for Hawk Wings readers in the comments) which, after Quicksilver, is the best thing in my time-saving toolbox.
Snippet Managers allow you to store text and images that you often use and to spit them out again with a few keystrokes. For example, if I type “hwnts” (Hawk Wings is Not Tech Support) into an email I am composing, I get the same text as the MailTempate reply.
Well, almost the same text. The downside here is that TextExpander doesn’t have smart fields. I need to reply to the message, type the person’s first name, and then type “hwnts” to get the same result.
But there are two upsides which make up for this. First, text snippets are available system-wide. If I want to use this boilerplate text in TextMate or in a Safari form or in some other app, it’s just the same few keystrokes away. MailTemplate isn’t. This is a bit plus for me.
Secondly, you will soon find that there are more things that frequent email replies that you want to store.
Typing “tss” produces my work signature with all the bells and whistles (and no mistakes) in Mail.app and anywhere else that I need it. All the HTML in this blog post, written in TextMate, was produced by the same time-saving, error-free text snippets.
I prefer Option 2 but either will do the job.
- TextExpander: Textpander makes good
- TextExpander auto-corrections list
- Clever TextExpander clipboard snippet trick
- RapidoWrite: Accelerate your typing
- Textexpander 1.4: Flexible delimiters, old logo
Tags: Apple Mail, getting things done, mail.app, mailtemplate, plugins, Productivity, templates, text snippets, textexpander