In my todo list, I like to refer to email messages based on the date they were received so I can simply find the message at a later point.

For example,

  1. Follow up locking issue (see Peter's email 25th Feb 2014 18:04)

Rather than transcribing the message date by hand, I'd rather copy it from the mail message and paste it into Notes but this doesn't seem possible.

The date in a Mail message

There is no selection cursor when I hover over the date, just a "grab hand".

Are there any tricks to copying a mail message's date to the clipboard?

5 Answers 5


This doesn't get you the date in text format, but when I grab using that grab hand cursor I can drag it into notes. There is then an icon with the subject of the email which, when clicked opens that email (albeit in a new window).

Might be helpful.


Apparently there is no option to copy date directly from mail message, neither in regular view, nor in "sort by thread" view.

The fastest method that I came up with was to reply to the email message and copy date from quoted part of it and discard draft afterwards


You could use the messages show Header to copy that and more or any information from.

Originalarrivaltime: 26 Feb 2014 14:05:34.0926

You could use the screen shot of the mail and paste that in notes.

enter image description here


As you mention that you use the date to find the message later another method is also possible.

If you use a Cocoa app (e.g. TextEdit) for the todo list you can make a link to the actual message such that you don't have to search anymore.
This is done through the message-id of the message, found in the raw source. This old hint explains how it works, and here an Applescript is shown that copies the message id of a selected message to the clipboard. The Applescript looks as follows:

tell application "Mail"
    set _sel to get selection
    set _links to {}
    repeat with _msg in _sel
        set _messageURL to "message://%3c" & _msg's message id & "%3e"
        set end of _links to _messageURL
    end repeat
    set AppleScript's text item delimiters to return
    set the clipboard to (_links as string)
end tell

Now if you paste the link in your todo list in TextEdit you can right click it, hit Open URL and the message will pop-up in Mail.


The following Applescript gets the date and time of the selected message and places it in on the clipboard. Copy/paste it in the Applescript editor and hit run to see what it does (make sure Mail is open and has a message selected).

tell application "Mail"
    set theSelection to selection
    set theMessage to item 1 of theSelection
    set theDate to date received of theMessage
end tell
set theDateFormatted to (short date string of theDate & " " & time string of theDate)
set the clipboard to theDateFormatted as string
get the clipboard

To make the script useful you should make a service out of it using Automator and assign a keyboard shortcut to it.
Or, if you're using a launcher like Quicksilver or Alfred, you can save the script somewhere and launch it using the launcher. How to do that is content for another (probably already answered) question though.

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