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In Preview.app, I can highlight and annotate text in a PDF file. Can we do the same thing to emails in my inbox in Mail.app?

I have long time collaborate projects and I need to go back to previous emails very frequently — it would be great if I can highlight texts in emails.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Apple Mail doesn't have a way to do this natively. I can't think of another email client that does what you're describing either. Here are some ideas and workarounds that might help you accomplish something similar to what you describe; perhaps one of them will suit your needs.

The closest option in Apple Mail is to use flags. That only gives you the ability to flag a message. You can't even add a note, let alone highlight the text and annotate it.

You could try a third-party application like MailTags (Mavericks 10.9 support is currently in beta). It's a paid application with a robust tagging system, as well as the ability to add notes. This isn't a perfect solution since it doesn't allow you to highlight specific text within the email. MailTags has a free demo; you might want to download it and see if you can reach a solution that works for you.

Another option would be to try Outlook:Mac. It has both categories and flags built in. You can also do things like create a task or a note from a message. Once you have created a task or a note from a message, you can do things like highlight text, but not annotate it. It also isn't the original message, but rather a copy of the message.

If you do find something that works for what you want to accomplish, please do share it here. Being more effective with email is a goal for many people, after all.

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Thanks for the ideas. MailTags is very helpful and I already uses it in organizing my emails. I'll keep looking and if I find something in the future I'll share it here. Thanks :) –  xslittlegrass Apr 16 at 20:28
    
I use OneNote to do what you're describing. My mail is organized by project (folder names are "delivery date - project"; ex "2014-03 - MacIT presentation"). I use OneNote to keep notes related to the project (same naming scheme for notebooks), like meeting notes or anything else. If I have an email that I need to annotate, I copy the text into a new note in OneNote, highlight the text, and annotate it there. The thing that I really like about OneNote is that you can easily add text anywhere on the page, which makes annotation easy. No idea if this is helpful, just thought I'd add it in. :) –  nadyne Apr 17 at 0:53

You may want to look into printing the email as a PDF and then doing your annotations in Preview as normal. There's a PDF button at the bottom left of the system Print dialog that will let you do this.

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I think that would be very inconvenient. First, I have several hundreds of emails just in one project, converting them all into pdf makes them difficult to manage and search. Second, I have attachment in most of the emails, I would not be able to see them after converting into pdfs. –  xslittlegrass Apr 16 at 15:05

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