How to configure swipes to deal with email faster in Mac Mail app

Discover how to quickly deal with emails on the Mac by swiping them away. Configure the swipe actions.

Is the amount of email you receive increasing? Is the number of messages becoming overwhelming? Set up swipe actions in Mail on the Apple Mac to make dealing with incoming emails faster.

Email inboxes are filled every day with new messages demanding our immediate attention, yet we seem to have less time to deal with them. It is hard to keep on top of the messages we get each day and the inbox becomes an untidy mess or black hole where emails disappear, never to be seen again.

Fortunately, the Mail app on the Mac responds to gestures and you can quickly go through the messages in the inbox swiping them away to deal with them. The options for configuring email actions is very limited, but they are still helpful.

Swipe right for read/unread

Select an inbox in the sidebar on the left and then click an email in the middle column mail list. Swipe right with two fingers on the trackpad of your iMac or MacBook. The message moves about a third of the way across and reveals a blue tile. This enables you to set whether a message has been read or not.

Swipe over an email to reveal a read/unread button in the Mail app on the Apple Mac

Click an email to view it and it is then classed as read. Unread messages have blue blobs against them and sometimes you might want to make a read email unread again. It makes it stand out in the inbox so it is harder to miss. It acts as a visual reminder that the message needs to be dealt with.

Change a read email to unread in the Mail app on the Apple Mac

Click the blue email icon to toggle the read flag on or off.

Delete an email

Unwanted messages can easily be dealt with by deleting them. Click an email to select it and then swipe left on the trackpad with two fingers to reveal the Trash icon. Click it to quickly delete the message.

Swipe left over an email the  Mail app on the Mac to delete it

Archive email messages

Swiping left over an email to delete it is not the only action that can be performed and it is possible to archive emails instead. Go to Mail > Preferences and select the Viewing tab.

Click the menu where it says Move discarded messages into, and choose either Trash or Archive.

Choose whether to trash or archive an email by swiping in the Mail app on the Mac

With Archive selected, a different icon is displayed when you swipe left over a message using two fingers on the trackpad. Click this icon to archive an email.

Archive emails by swiping in Mail on the Apple Mac

Do you prefer the Trash function or the Archive function? Select your favourite in Preferences.

What are archived emails?

The sidebar on the left in Mail shows inboxes, junk, VIPs, sent and other items. Near the bottom of the list is Archive and this is where archived emails are placed when you swipe and click.

View archived emails in Mail on the Apple Mac

All of the items in the sidebar on the left are like folders and they contain emails. Move emails to the Archive that you do not want cluttering up the inbox, but which you don’t want to delete. It keeps the inbox clean, or at least cleaner, but if you need to see archived emails, just select Archive in the sidebar.



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