How to manage e-mail without marking messages as read

MailIconYosemiteXIf you use Apple’s Mail program as your e-mail reader, you might find yourself at times needing to organize your messages, either by removing junk from your inbox, or dragging specific folders into custom mailboxes. When you do this, you might find yourself clicking around in your inbox, which will result in not only clicked messages being marked as read, but also viewing their content, which might not be desired.

For instance, you might find spam messages in your inbox that may contain unsightly attachments, and since Mail may render these attachments in-line, by clicking on the message or using arrow keys to select it in the message list, you will see these images show up. This will also happen when you right-click the message to use contextual menus for handling it, where Mail will still load its contents in the viewer.

To avoid this, there are two approaches you can take for moving an e-mail message without displaying its contents or marking it as “read” and then having to undo this:

1. Click and drag the message

While right-clicking the message and otherwise selecting it will select it for viewing, if you left-click it you will have to release the mouse for Mail to show the message’s contents. Therefore, you can click and drag the message to the Trash, Junk, or other mailbox to avoid it being shown or marked as read.

2. Disable the message viewer

Relying on dragging messages around may not always work, since you might inadvertently release the mouse, view the message, and then have to mark it as unread again. Therefore, the better approach is to disable the message viewer when moving messages around, which can be done by dragging the separator between the viewer and the message list to the bottom or side of the Mail window, where you will see the viewer collapse and disappear.

Mail hide message viewer

Drag the divider bar in the message viewer to the bottom, or to the right, and when closed, newly selected messages will not be marked as read.

When this is done, messages you select will retain the blue dot next to them that indicates they are unread, so you can undertake tasks to move multiple Mail messages around, without worrying about missing one at a later date. In addition, there will be no way for Mail to show their contents, so any attachments or other content you might not want to see will remain hidden.

One thought on “How to manage e-mail without marking messages as read

  1. seika17

    It’s not cheap, but I use Mail Act-On to give a custom delay before messages are marked as Read (I use 3 seconds like I used to with Entourage). I also constantly use its feature to deselect all messages using the Escape key.

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