Want to be alerted to important messages the moment they come in? Of course, you do.
In Mac OS X Mail, you can get the latter without the former, for the most part. You can set it up to announce new emails in but the inbox, or in all folders; you can also limit alerts to senders in your address book, or to people you have marked VIPs; you can concoct a smart mailbox whose selection criteria have it collect — and announce — just the right, urgent new email mix; and you can, finally, add a notification action to specific incoming message rules for good measure and added flexibility. (Do approach the rules with caution, though; see below and try to use a smart mailbox instead.)
Naturally, turning off all alerts — temporarily if you like — is another option.
Get New Email Alerts for VIPs, Contacts, Inbox, Smart Folders, Rules or All Messages in Mac OS X Mail
To specify for what kind of mail you want to receive desktop alerts in Notification Center from Mac OS X Mail:
- Select Mail | Preferences… from the menu in Mac OS X Mail.
- Go to the General tab.
- Select the desired category for which you want to receive new message alerts under New message notifications::
- Inbox Only: receive alerts only for new messages arriving in your inbox.
- VIPs: get alerts only about messages from people you have marked as VIPs.
- Contacts: be notified solely about messages from people in your address book (you cannot pick individual contacts for notification).
- All Mailboxes: have notifications show up for all new messages arriving in your email accounts.
- A smart folder: be alerted to all new mail arriving in that smart mailbox; using the folder's selection criteria, you can set up your personal set of email notification rules.
- Close the General preferences window.
Add Desktop Notifications to Incoming Message Rules in Mac OS X Mail
Note: while you can set up Send Notification as an action for email filters in OS X Mail, various tests have not revealed to me, at least, what this action actually accomplishes — and under what circumstances.
To make any incoming message rule in Mac OS X Mail alert you to the messages its criteria select:
- Select Mail | Preferences… from Mac OS X Mail's menu.
- Go to the Rules tab.
- To add desktop alerts to an existing filter:
- Highlight the rule to which you want to add notifications.
- Click Edit.
- Click + next to an action under Perform the following actions:.
- Select Send Notification from the Move Message drop-down menu.
- Of course, you can also modify an existing action, say Bounce Icon in Dock.
- Click OK.
- To add a new rule that notifies you about the emails that match its criteria:
- Click Add Rule.
- Type a short title that will help you recognise the filter's criteria and proposed feats under Description:.
- Pick the desired criteria for triggering the rule's actions under If ___ of the following conditions are met:.
- Select Send Notification from the Move Message drop-down menu under Perform the following actions:.
- You can add further actions, of course, to the filter.
- Click OK.
- Close the Rules preferences window.
Turn Off Mac OS X Mail (or All) Desktop Alerts
To disable all Notification Center alerts (for the rest of the day):
- Click the Notification Center icon in the OS X menu bar while holding down the Alt key.
- Click again while holding down Alt to enable alerts again at any time.
As an alternative to clicking the menu bar icon:
- Open Notification Center.
- Scroll to the very top, past the first notification if there are any.
- Make sure Show Alerts and Banners is OFF.
- To enable alerts again manually, make sure Show Alerts and Banners is ON.
To turn off Mac OS X Mail alerts more permanently, choose None as its notification style. You can also turn off recent message listing in OS X Notification Center, of course.
(Updated July 2012)