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Use Mail on your Mac

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Set up Mail

When you first open Mail, you're prompted to set up your email account if you haven't already.

Choose your email provider from the list. If you don't see your email provider, click "Add Other Mail Account." Then click Continue.

Mail completes your account settings based on the email address you provide, and in OS X Yosemite or later, Mail automatically maintains them.

  • If Mail doesn't recognize your email provider, it might ask you for additional settings.
  • If you need to add more than one Mail account, start with your primary account. Then use Internet Accounts to add more accounts.

Compose new messages

Use one of these methods to compose a new email message:

  • Press Command-N (⌘N)
  • Choose File > New Message
  • Click the New Message button in the Mail window

To: Type a name in the To field. Mail automatically helps complete this field with email addresses from Contacts, and from past messages you've received or sent. If you're sending a message to a new person, type in their full email address. Type a comma on your keyboard to enter more recipients.

Subject: Type a subject for your message in the Subject field. If you leave it blank, Mail reminds you to fill it in.

Message: Type the body of your message in the large area below the Subject field. To change how your message looks, click the Format button and use the controls to change the typeface or text alignment. Click the Show Stationery button to use built-in message templates.

When you're finished, click the Send button . If you're offline, Mail keeps your outgoing messages in the Outbox mailbox until you connect to the Internet. If you're not ready to send your message, close its window or select another message. Mail keeps your unfinished messages in the Drafts mailbox.

View your email

Mail automatically checks your email accounts periodically for new mail. To manually check for email, click the Get Mail button . To view an email message, select it from the list of messages on the left side of the Mail window. The message body appears on the right side of the window.

Reply to email

Reply or Forward

To reply to a message, click the Reply or Reply All button. Type your reply then click the Send button . Click the Forward button to send the message to other people.


In OS X Yosemite or later, you can use the Markup feature in Mail to draw and type directly onto an attachment and send it as a reply.

You can use Markup on an attachment when you compose or reply to a message.

Use the Attach button yos_mail_attachment_icon.png to add the attachment to your reply.

  1. Move your pointer over the image in your message.
  2. Click the icon that appears in the upper-right corner of the image.
  3. Choose Markup from the menu that appears.
You can use any of the tools from the Markup toolbar to draw, sign, or annotate the image.

Use the Sketch tool to create freehand drawings on the image by drawing on the trackpad with your finger.

Use shapes like rectangles, ovals, lines, and arrows. Or draw shapes using your finger on your trackpad. Use the Zoom tool at the bottom of the Shapes palette to magnify and call attention to a part of an image.

Type directly onto images and PDFs to provide feedback in an email thread.

Sign your name by drawing on the trackpad with your finger, or snap a photo of your signature using the camera on your Mac.


Mail organizes email replies into conversations, to make it easy to follow a thread of messages between you and others. Mail collapses text you've already seen in earlier emails so you can read through a topic more easily. To see all the text of a specific message, click See More.


To include an attachment, like an image or a document, drag it into your email message. Or click the Attach button in the message window, or choose File > Attach Files. Messages with attachments display a paper clip icon.

When you receive an attachment, double-click it to open it. You can also drag attachments out of the email message window, or choose File > Save Attachments if you want to keep the attached files somewhere else on your drive.

Beginning with Mail in OS X Yosemite and iOS 9.2, you can send large files (up to 5 GB per message), such as videos, presentations, and folders of images, without having to worry about your email provider’s limitations on file size. This feature is called Mail Drop. It works with any email service, as long as you're using Mail and signed in to iCloud on your device.

Mail Drop automatically uploads large attachments to iCloud. If your recipients use Mail, they receive the attachment as part of your message. If they use another app or webmail, they receive a link to download the attachment. All you do is click Send, and Mail does the rest. Attachments are available for 30 days and don’t count against your iCloud storage.

Organize your email


You can create Mailboxes to organize your email messages. Mailboxes work like folders in the Finder.

To create a Mailbox:

  1. In Mail choose Mailbox > New Mailbox
  2. In the sheet that appears, choose the location for the Mailbox.
    - Choose On My Mac to create a Mailbox that resides on only your Mac.
    - Choose your email service (such as iCloud) to create a Mailbox that you can access from any device you check email from.
  3. Name the Mailbox and click OK.
Click the Show button on the left side of the Favorites Bar to see the Mailbox list or press Shift-Command-M. The Mailbox list is like the sidebar of the Finder window. Use one of the following methods to move messages into your Mailboxes:

  • Drag messages into the Mailbox you want move them into.
  • When viewing a message, choose Messages > Move To or Copy To to file the message away.
  • Control-click or right click a message and choose Move To or Copy To from the shortcut menu that appears.
  • Create Mail Rules that move or copy messages into a Mailbox.
Search Mail

Use the Search field in the Mail window to search by sender, subject, attachments and more. If you want to narrow your search, choose an option from the menu that appears as you type.

To narrow your search, enter names or terms related to the message you're looking for. Select a search token such as People or Subject to search just that field in Mail. You can also select a mailbox from the Mailboxes sidebar or the Favorites bar in the Mail window to search just that Mailbox.

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