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How to customize the macOS Mail toolbar

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Mail is one of the most commonly used macOS native apps, and you can significantly enhance your daily interaction with the program. Here’s how to customize the Mail toolbar to improve everyday use.

Image: Igor/Adobe Stock

There’s a temptation especially when first using a new Mac to use applications as-is. But many advantages are waiting — sometimes, you just need to customize a few options. A great application with which to begin is macOS’s own Mail.

While most everyone is aware the email client supports a variety of customizations, many might be surprised to learn that adjusting the toolbar to better accommodate needs and habits requires, literally, just seconds. Yet these simple toolbar customizations can save time and multiple clicks several times an hour each day.

SEE: iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The Mail toolbar itself can be shown or hidden. If when Mail is open you don’t see the toolbar present, as shown in Figure A, click View and select Show Toolbar.

Figure A

The macOS Mail toolbar accommodates numerous action icons and shortcuts that can be adjusted to individual users’ preferences.

The Mail toolbar also supports displaying action icons by themselves or together with explanatory text. Right-click the toolbar and select from one of three options to adjust the presentation:

  1. Icon and text: macOS displays both the action’s icon (such as the backward-facing arrow) and the action’s corresponding description (Reply) with text.
  2. Icon only: macOS displays only an action’s icon.
  3. Text only: macOS displays only an action’s text description.

The actual actions available from the macOS Mail toolbar are adjusted by right-clicking the toolbar and selecting Customize Toolbar, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The macOS toolbar supports adding and removing shortcuts for a number of actions, including replying, replying all and forwarding.

When enabling toolbar customization, toolbar icons and descriptions shake side-to-side to indicate they’re ready for adjustment and that the user is in toolbar customization mode. To reposition a toolbar command, click the corresponding toolbar action and drag it to the location where you’d like the action to be positioned.

Toolbar icons and descriptions can also be removed from the toolbar. To remove a toolbar action, while still in the toolbar customization mode, simply click the action you wish to remove and drag it down and off the toolbar.

To add a toolbar action, while in toolbar customization mode, click and drag the action or shortcut you wish to add to the Mail toolbar to the location where you’d like the action or shortcut positioned.

Numerous Mail actions and shortcuts are available, including the following, as shown in Figure C:

  • Add Sender To Contact
  • Archive
  • Delete
  • Flag
  • Get Mail
  • Increase/decrease Font Size
  • Junk
  • Mark Read
  • Mark Unread
  • New Message
  • Print
  • Show/hide Sidebar
  • View Headers

Figure C

macOS Mail supports adding numerous actions and shortcuts to the app’s toolbar menu.

While in toolbar customization mode, macOS users can also change the toolbar action’s display features by selecting Icon and Text, Icon Only or Text Only from the drop-down menu included in the toolbar customization menu.

While Apple developers have done well creating a reliable email program more than capable of standing up to the demands within even an enterprise environment, customizing the toolbar you see every day helps ensure the program remains matched to your daily habits as you require. Just remember to take time to adjust the toolbar according to your preferences.

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