Unmissable updates to Mail in macOS High Sierra supercharge emails

New features in the Mail app in macOS High Sierra revealed

The headline may be a bit over the top, but there are useful feature updates to the Mail app on the Mac worth exploring, like new formatting features and search improvements.

New colour options for text

Sometimes when new features are added to apps, you pause and wonder whether they really are new. They are just so obvious you think they have always been there.

According to Apple, new in Mail in macOS High Sierra is a feature that enables you to colour the background of text when writing email messages. Did it not have that ability before? Foreground text colours could be set, but apparently not background colours.

Coloured backgrounds for text is supported by other email services, such as Google Gmail and Microsoft Outlook, and probably some others too. However, these are two of the most popular ones. Colour the text in a message created using the Mail app on the Mac and the colours are faithfully displayed elsewhere.

It is a tiny feature, but it is also a useful one when you need to make text stand out in a message.

Create a new message in the Mail app, then...

  1. Click the A icon in the toolbar to show the formatting toolbar below
  2. Click the background colour chip to select the colour from the palette displayed
  3. Click the foreground colour chip to select the colour from the palette displayed
  4. Click this to remove the colour from the text and reset it to the default.

Colour the text in emails in Mail on the Apple Mac

The background colour selection is new and it is useful for headings and text you want to stand out.

Search your mail

The search feature in the Mail app has had a minor upgrade and now it has a Top Hits section at the top of the results (1). The items that appear in the Top Hits are selected based on several criteria, such as when they are set as a VIP, whether you have replied to a person, and so on. Mail tries to show the most relevant results first.

Search Mail on the Apple Mac

The main results appear below the Top Hits and you can sort them by date, attachments, flags, size and other attributes (2). Click the current sort criteria and select a different one from the menu that is displayed.

Click the little button at the right of the search results list to filter the messages (3). By default it displays everything, but when clicked it displays the unread messages matching the search criteria. Click Unread and you can choose different filters, such as the inbox where you have several, unread, to me, emails with attachments, and so on.

Natural language can be used in the search query, so you could say, for example, ‘emails sent last thursday’.

It is not quite perfect and if you enter ‘emails sent to Bob Smith last week’ you get nothing. However, you can say ‘emails sent to Bob last week’ or ‘emails sent to Smith last week’ and get the results you want. That’s a bit strange.

Split view mail Messages

There is a new split view when working with the Mail app in full screen mode. Open Mail and click the green button in the top left corner to go full screen. Double click an email and it opens in a split screen view side by side with Mail. The same thing happens when creating a new email message.

This split view means that you can work full screen, but in two windows at the same time. You can browse your mail while keeping an email open in the other half of the window.

There is an option in Mail preferences to turn this feature off if you do not like it. Go to Mail > Preferences > General and clear the checkbox next to Prefer opening messages in split view when in full screen.

Mac Mail preferences when working in full sacreen

Double clicking a message or creating a new one causes it to slide up from the bottom of the screen and when it is closed, it slides back down.

Fix split screen mode in Mail

If you find that split screen mode does not work, it can easily be fixed, but in a very strange way. Open System Preferences and click Mission Control. Select the checkbox Displays have separate spaces.

Mission Control in System Preferences on the Apple Mac

It isn’t clear why this should affect split screen view, but it does.



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