In OSX 10.10 Mail app a message gets read immediately when as soon as it is selected.

Often this happens by accident; i.e. when organising folders, or it gets auto-selected when you delete/move another mail. Suffice to say this behaviour can disturb a workflow.

From other mail clients I'm used you can give it a small offset (few seconds for example) before it is 'Mark as Read'. Does anyone know if OSX has such a setting?

  • There used to be a plugin called TruePreview, which you can find here: christianserving.org/project/truepreview. However, the last version is for Mac OS X 10.8. So, if you upgraded to Mavericks or Yosemite, I do not know of a replacement.
    – Phoenix
    Mar 3, 2015 at 11:54
  • Thanks, already found that one, but I'm indeed on Yosemite... Mar 5, 2015 at 8:29

4 Answers 4


The Plugins MailHub and Mail Act-On have such options:


MailHub is a 'smart' plug-in for Apple Mail that revolutionises email management. It learns as you work, suggesting likely filing locations to take the pain out of keeping your mail organized. It also allows you to set reminders on emails, so you can follow-up later.

Mail Act-On

Mail Act-On 3 new features give you unparalleled ability to manage your messages. Use Act-On's new templates to quickly reply to messages. Use Act-On composer options to specify when messages are delivered, where sent messages get archived, and even which outbox rules are applied.


Found a solution today at Apple discussions: Mail - how to delay " Mark as Unread "

User posted "Close the preview pane by dragging it down to the bottom the window. Double click to open the mail you want to read, the rest will stay unread."

Works with Mail v9.0 under OS X El Capitan 10.11.

  • 1
    Thanks for thinking along, this is indeed a way to not automatically select the next (unread) mail, but it is also highly impacting a nice work flow, as every single mail then needs to be opened separately. Not comparable to a simple delay for me. Oct 20, 2015 at 13:38

You could do

defaults write com.apple.Mail MarkAsReadDelay n

Where n = delay in seconds (integer)

  • Note that on Yosemite it's com.apple.mail (mail without capital "M"). Mar 19, 2015 at 15:41
  • Does this work for someone ? Just tried it on 10.10.3 and with a delay of 3 secs, but mail is read instantaneously. May 13, 2015 at 18:53
  • Didn't work for me, although I might retry on El Capitan soon. Oct 20, 2015 at 13:40
  • 4
    Doesn't work for me on El Capitan. Dec 9, 2015 at 16:49
  • 1
    I've had a look at defaults read com.apple.mail in High Sierra. Nothing seems relevant sadly..
    – mwfearnley
    Nov 19, 2019 at 14:32

Did you quit Mail, do the command, and then restart Mail? I did this and it seems to work intermittently. I did

defaults write com.apple.mail MarkAsReadDelay 3

and for some emails, there is a 1 second delay, and some there is 0. I can't find a pattern. ??!

  • It's hard to tell if this is an answer or a question/comment. If it's an answer, please clarify the last part as a note instead of a question. If it's a question/comment, please ask another question or accumulate enough points so you can add a comment.
    – JMY1000
    Feb 19, 2016 at 19:11

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