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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

Date: 23rd July 2011

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OS X Lion: New vs classic view in Mail

Although Mail 5 in OS X Lion is similar to the previous version, it also has some differences too and the interface, for example, has been given a makeover. Do you like the new three column layout with the mailboxes on the left, the mail list in the middle and the reading pane on the right? This wasn't an option in Leopard or Snow Leopard Mail, although you could get plugins that provided it, but it is now the new default.

Whether you prefer the old layout or the new one is simply a matter of preference and if you don't like the new layout or if you do, but would like to tweak it slightly, then go to the Mail menu, click Preferences and then click the Viewing icon. At the top of the dialog it has the option to Use classic layout. Tick it and the mail list appears on top with the reading pane below, just like Mail used to be.

If you like the new three column layout, you can tweak it slighty and you can add contact photos and To/Cc in the message list. The ability to show contact photos is more useful than you might think. The reason is that people you know, such as family and friends will have photos, but people you don't know and junk mail won't. OS X Lion MailYou can therefore easily see which messages are from family and friends.

The mail list pane in the new layout shows the first two lines of the message. Is this enough for you to see what the message is and whether it is worth reading? You can set the number of lines from zero up to five.

Increasing the number of preview lines this means that fewer messages can be displayed in the mail list, but it's your choice. If you use a MacBook Air with an 11in screen you might want to choose a small number because there isn't much space, but on an iMac where the screen is much deeper you could choose the maximum so you can see more in each message preview.

Another tweak to the layout is to resize the columns. If you move the mouse over the divider between two panes, such as the mailbox pane on the left and the mail list pane in the middle, the mouse cursor changes to a double-headed arrow and you can click and drag the divider left or right. Just make the panes as wide or narrow as you prefer.

Go to Apple Mac and OS X tips and tweaks index...