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November 20th, 2013

Working with the Postbox Interface - Part 1

Posted in: Features, Tips

Our previous posts helped you with Getting Started with Postbox and Customizing the Postbox Interface.

Now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty: working with Postbox day-to-day or, more importantly, making Postbox work for you.

Accounts Pane

The Accounts Pane is one of the most important, and unique, user interface elements in Postbox. One key feature is the "All Accounts" group, which enables you view messages from several accounts simultaneously.

Within All Accounts, each of your accounts will be listed individually according to the account name used when Postbox was first set up. You can change the account name by going to Preferences | Options > Accounts > [your account] and entering a new name in the field labeled Account Name.

Accounts can be reordered within the All Accounts group by simply dragging and dropping them to the desired location. The top-most account is the "default" account. Thus, when you compose a new message with the All Accounts selected, the "from" account will default to the account positioned at the top of the Accounts Pane (unless a different account was selected as default in Preferences | Options).

Postbox Unified Account Groups

When you first install Postbox, all of your accounts will be grouped within the All Accounts group. However, you can create as many new Account Groups as you like. For example, one Account Group can be dedicated to your work accounts, and another for your personal accounts. To organize accounts within different groups, just drag and drop them to where they are needed.

Folders Pane

Closely associated with the Accounts Pane is the Folders Pane, which will display special folders such as the Inbox, Sent, Drafts and Trash along with any storage folders you're subscribed to.

The contents of the Folder Pane will change depending on which account or account group is currently selected in the Accounts Pane. When an Account Group is selected, special folders are combined into one view. Storage folders are listed below the special folders and grouped by account name.

For IMAP accounts, you can customize which folders that display in the Folders Pane by selecting Subscribe from the File menu. This can be especially useful if the IMAP server has a number of mailboxes or folders that you don't need to see, but still want to keep around for archival purposes.

To make efficient use of your workspace, the Accounts & Folders Pane can be closed so that only the message list and preview panes are visible - perfect for when you are in a power triaging mode. Click on the open/close toggle in the Favorites Bar, or go to View menu > Show > Folder Pane to show or hide the Accounts & Folders Pane.

Focus Pane

Postbox Focus Pane

One of Postbox's most unique features is the Focus Pane, designed to help you break your Inbox into more manageable chunks. In a nutshell, this pane lets you focus on just the messages you need to support your immediate workflow. Filter messages by Favorite Topic, Favorite Contacts, dates, or attributes such as attachment status and unread. Toggle the Focus Pane open and closed by selecting View menu > Show > Focus Pane, or by using the slider button at the bottom of the Folder Pane.

The Focus Pane works in harmony with Topics to show you just what you need at a glance. While there is no limit to the number of Topics you can use in Postbox, the Focus Pane is reserved for "Favorite Topics," or the ones you wish to use most often. To assign a Topic as a Favorite, right-click the Topic and select Favorite or through Preferences | Options > Display > Topics. Reorder Favorite Topics by dragging and dropping them to the desired location. Additionally, you can assign a topic to messages by dragging and dropping then on top of a Favorite Topic.

Favorite Contacts lets you filter your message view by contact - just click on a Favorite Contact to only see messages from that person. Combine Favorite Contacts with the Show All Folders selector to see every message from that contact across all mail accounts and folders.

To make a contact a favorite, either click on the contact name in the message header envelope and check the Favorite Contact checkbox, or drag the contact name from the message header to the list of Favorite Contacts area in the Focus Pane. Reorder your Favorite Contacts by dragging and dropping them by the priority that is most important to you (hint: you may wish to put your boss at the top of the list). To remove a Favorite Contact, right-click the contact in the Focus Pane and select Remove from Favorites from the context menu. Alternatively, click on the contact in the message header envelope and uncheck the Favorite Contact checkbox from the Contact Pop-up.

You can use the ctrl/cmd-click keys to select multiple items in the Focus Pane. When selecting items across groups such as Favorite Topics, Favorite Contacts, or Dates, ctrl/cmd-click acts as an AND criteria. Ctrl/cmd-clicking only within Topics acts as an OR search criteria, e.g. "show me all messages that contain Topics: apples OR grapes."

Inspector Pane

Postbox Inspector Pane

The Inspector Pane, available via the View menu > Show > Inspector Pane menu, provides quick and easy access to a wealth of information that may be hiding within long email threads. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles, as well as any links, addresses, package tracking numbers, etc. contained in the email are easy to find and readily available for you to take action on.

These are just a few of the interface features in Postbox that help you manage your email day-to-day.