Quickly send task-related emails from your mail.app inbox to Omnifocus with the help of indev’s Mail Act-On, MailTags and Omnifocus’ MailDrop

Yes, I cannot think of adequately short titles for blog posts. The quick hack I cobbled together during lunch today is no doubt not extremely up there in hacking terms, but I’m quite proud of it myself. Which is why I can’t wait to blog about it.

The itch I’m trying to scratch

I have mail incoming in my mail.app which I need to do something with. So I should send it to Omnifocus’ inbox for further treatment. Since the OmniGroup released their MailDrop feature (I believe still in public beta) for Omnifocus and they’ve been kind enough to include me, I’ve been able to send mails with attachments to Omnifocus (OF), putting all the relevant documents inside my OF database. The itch was that this was not automatic at all. I needed to forward each individual message to my Maildrop email account. Of course I started to “forget” to send stuff to my Omnifocus inbox, so I had stuff at different places, which made my weekly review that much harder. Not frictionless at all.

Enter indev’s Mail Act-On and MailTags

I had tried to solve the issue by working with Mail.app’s rules, using flags to forward mails to my Maildrop account. However, as I found out, you cannot use flags to trigger a rule in Mail.app (as far as I know). So I needed another solution.

A couple of months ago, I had invested in indev’s Mail Act-On and MailTags applications which enhance Apple’s Mail.app functionality in order to optimize some of my email related productivity, but I still had to get to the bottom of the usefulness of these applications.

I played around with the settings a bit during lunch, and suddenly realized that these applications enhanced the rules available to me in Mail.app, even the “inbox” rules, the traditional rules in Mail.app. While I still could not work with the flags, the combination of MailTags and Mail Act-On allowed me to tag a message which would then, based on that tag, be forwarded to my Maildrop.

Problem solved.

The short hack in-depth

  1. I installed Mail Act-On and MailTags (note these applications are not free nor cheap, but you can on occasion find them in bundles, which make them affordable);
  2. In Mail.app preferences, I make a new Inbox rule, called @Action to Omnifocus;
  3. The rule is simple: if the rule detects a message with a MailTags keyword which is “@Action”, easily assigned via MailTags, it forwards the message to my Maildrop account, moves the message to my archive, and stops further processing.

It takes at most a couple of minutes, but I then find the message, with attachments, in my Omnifocus inbox, only to rename (see an earlier post on good next actions), assign a context and a project, and deal with … later.

You can find a screenshot of the rule below.

The @Action to Omnifocus rule
The @Action to Omnifocus rule