87: Email Rules Automation

4 Likes

This was a great episode. I wanted to add that for those in corporations ruled by MS365, a great email automation to add is using PowerAutomate. I only considered using it this week to solve a problem where I wanted to auto-decline some recurring meetings. Outlook for desktop doesn’t let you set up a way to do this without Outlook running and Outlook web didn’t have this functionality. Thankfully I was able to use PowerAutomate to do this which has made me very happy.

3 Likes

PowerAutomate is great if the features you need are included in the plan you’re on!

1 Like

Great info. I’ve been using FastMail for quite a few years but recently in setting up new devices discovered they now support provisioning profiles.

Perfect for them to have automated setup for us automation folks. And it includes CALDAV for calendar and CARDDAV for contacts. Anyone using or considering Fastmail should definitely use profiles and not manual configuration.

Some things worth talking about in future episodes:

Using mail servers with apps that send notification mails and want to send from your domain, not the apps. Carbon Copy Cloner’s task completion emails, for example. There are nuances to rate limiting, app-specific password login, and Gmail/Google has their own contorted authentication dance you have to setup.

Email backup and database: I’ve been using a Mac app called Email Archiver Pro that uses IMAP to pull a copy of all my email from multiple accounts and convert them to pdf files.

I’ve always wanted a searchable archive that was independent of proprietary or even the MBOX mail formats and pdf seems perfect.

But now that I’m using DevonThink (“Thanks” MacSparky for costing me more money, again) wondering about the differences between importing all those pdf archived emails or using the built-in email feature in DT, which I haven’t explored yet.

1 Like

David mentioned something about sync contacts… I tried that on the past and I ended up with some contacts missing … @MacSparky, can you share how you do it?

Loved the show… I heard it driving and will now hear it again at home during the weekend to play more with some stuff you and @RosemaryOrchard mentioned… thanks .

Today they are only on iCloud, would like to have them on fastmail also … for example…

1 Like

Something that wasn’t mentioned on the show but I think some people might like it:

Google have an integrated scripting service that runs on their cloud servers and can take control over all of their services, including emails. It is called Apps Script

You can create javascript code, manipulating gmail, google calendar or other services, and schedule the script to run at specific intervals or triggers. It becomes incredibly powerful really quickly.

3 examples of scripts that I use:

Email cleaning
There are some emails that I keep on my inbox in case I want to look at it, but if I let it for too long they will pile up. So I have some rules to auto tag emails by sender or subject or whatever. Then I use google script to look at my email daily and check for some tags. If the email has a specific tag and it is marked as read (that means, I opened it), then archive it. If it has a tag and wasn’t opened, let it on the inbox if the date is less than 2 days. Otherwise mark it as read and archive it.
With this I can let my emails visible a couple of days, but if I don’t interact with them they are automatically archived.

Auto parsing text and scheduling
My university sometimes sends me automatic emails with some event that I need to attend to. The email always have the same pattern. A date, title, link, address etc. So I have a script that periodically checks if I got an email with a specific title, and then I use regex to extract the data I need. Then it automatically adds this info to my google calendar. And since it uses javascript, I could even add a webhook to push me a notification in case I need to remember it again. It never fails, it is so beautiful!

Read later
I subscribe to some newsletters so for some specific ones I like to add the items into a “read later” database on airtable. I want to use Notion, but I am more used to airtable’s api. Anyway, my script gets the content of the email, which is a newsletter, and it parses the titles and links. Then it feeds into an airtable and archive the email. Later I just have to to my read next table and select which ones I want to read or not

So yeah, if you are into scripting, it does worth taking a look at google’s Apps Script.

2 Likes

This episode comes as a perfect time for me, as i just switched my email over to Gmail from having it selfhosted.
I have already played around with the filters and so far I‘m impressed.
But the interesting feature so far is definitely that Gmail uses Tags, instead of folders, which makes my Integromat Invoice exporter so much nicer.

1 Like

When we used to be on Gmail at work, this is exactly how I made my e-mail manageable. Rather than tagging and archiving e-mail myself, I had a script that ran several times a day. It would check e-mail I had opened, we’re read more than 4 hours ago (to avoid any that I might have open and working on when the script ran), but not flagged for follow-up and then process them. It got me round the Gmail rule limitation of only processing new e-mails. On busy days, such as after a stint of annual leave, I would also trigger it from a browser bookmark to help clean as I went.

1 Like

Sieve scripts in Fastmail are also pretty nice.

I use them to automatically:

Unfortunately these all use the notify extension, which Fastmail is planning to phase out… :cry:

Rosemary mentioned Feedbin for newsletters. Some additions to that:

1 Like

Oh bingo, I’ve been looking for something like this this weekend!

BLUF: I’m quite happy with the email automation I get from Microsoft O365. Enough that I pay for it personally and it’s where I manage my personal email, as well as the organizational email from a non-profit I help administer. I do also use Exchange at work (where I learned to be an O365 tenant admin).

I’ve done email rules in both Outlook (which runs the rules server-side in Exchange) and in GMail (web interface). I’ve never run into anything I wanted to do with Exchange rules that was particularly difficult. My sense is that what I can do with Exchange email rules is at least as powerful as what I could do with GMail email rules. I do use the Outlook client for building the email rules (nice GUI for doing that), but I use Mac mail as my day-in/day-out client (both personally and professionally). I find Mac Mail is much better behaved with Exchange than it is with GMail.

As an aside, Mac mail has a killer feature for me at work, which is that I have Mail on my work Mac configured so that any email that’s going to someone not @mycompany.com shows up as bright red in the compose window. That’s saved my bacon lots of times, both for where I have work colleagues where I have their personal email address also in the contact and for the case where I have professional colleagues with the same (or very similar) names one of whom works for mycompany and one who does not.

1 Like

Is there any automation capability for Mail.app on iOS / iPad OS? Perhaps some Shortcuts support.

I’m clutching at straws here - as I know you can’t kick anything off from within Mail.app.

You can get a prompt to run a Shortcut when you receive an email. That’s it, unfortunately.

Thanks. That’s rather what I feared.

The best I’ve been able to do is connecting to the Gmail API via Scriptable, but yeah nothing directly for the Mail app

I’m trying to use Integromat with my iCloud email but none of the IMAP settings are working?

Is this because iCloud can’t be used directly with Integromat or perhaps I just have the wrong IMAP settings?

Any ideas?

I would think it’s the wrong IMAP settings - it definitely worked for me. Unfortunately I’ve already reconfigured my automations, so I can’t screenshot it for you!

Sorry for the late reply, I must have missed the notification of response.

I will double check my IMAP settings in that case… thanks for taking the time to respond.

EDIT:

Still not working… HELP!

EDIT:

It needed an ‘app specific password’ generated by Apple for it to work, it wouldn’t use my normal credentials… hope this information is helpful to someone else.