I'm coming to Mail.app with a background using both Outlook (on the PC) and GMail. In every mail client I've used, there are easy keyboard shortcuts to do these:

  • jump to any folder I want, just by typing a substring of it in an easy to launch dialogue
  • move currently selected message(s) with a similar dialogue

In Gmail, for example, which has labels, I can easily move and archive something ("l" to label it, then "e" to archive it), and I can easily jump to any label ("g" then "l"). In Outlook I hit ctrl-Y and then type a folder to jump; Ctrl-Shift-V to move things.

I'm happy with Lion so far, but do I really have to spend all this time dragging messages around to folders with the trackpad and clicking folders when I want to look in them? I've never been slower with a mail client.

I'm aware from some Googling that I can assign dedicated keyboard shortcuts to every single folder on a case-by-case basis (for moving not jumping), but that seems like a lot of effort, hard to organize (I want to type the folder I want, not memorize 30 different keyboard shortcuts) and not very flexible.

Am I missing an undocumented feature here?

11 Answers 11


MailActOn is an extension that provides fast filing of email messages in Mail.app. It is a paid extension though, but I find the $24.95 price tag reasonable for the productivity gains.

  • ah, thanks for sharing this. From their videos it looks like I have to create a "rule" for each folder, and so every time I make a folder I have to add a rule in the mailacton interface on every computer I have. I don't think that's what i want (esp. considering the software costs money). Hmm, I might try the demo anyway, but it looks like a long shot. Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 20:38
  • @malgorithms: You don't have to create a rule for every folder -- there's a "move to folder" pop-up you can enable with a single keystroke, which allows you to search all your existing folders. So I enter shift-v (similar to v on gmail for move), type in a few letters of the folder I want to move the message to, and press enter.
    – yjsoon
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 23:42
  • I went ahead and bought this. It seems to work really well. In fact, it doesn't act all weird when mail is in full-screen mode in Lion, unlike MsgFiler (mentioned in another answer here) below. Commented Aug 11, 2011 at 19:24
  • @malgorithms: In addition to what yjsoon said, the move to folder pop-up keeps track of folders you move to most often dynamically and displays those in the pop-up with numbers.
    – JijoeV
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 1:18
  • Tried Mail Act On v4 extension on Mac OS X Sierra (v 10.12) and it appears to work well.
    – racl101
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 22:59

To do this, you need to display the Favorites Bar, which you can enable by going to Mail » View » Show Favorites Bar.

You can add any folder to this bar, which you can then easily switch to with Command1, Command2, etc.

CtrlCommand1 moves the currently selected email(s) to the respective folder.

  • 2
    This should be accepted Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 8:16

Here is a shortcut that you can use easily as described by Philip Mat, No needs of any app, it is built in Mail using the help shortcut.


  1. Press Cmd-? or Cmd-Shift-/ to access the Help > Search menu.
  2. Type in the name of your folder.
  3. Press arrow down once for Move To or twice for Copy To and hit return.
  • 1
    Vincent - That is as close to a keyboard shortcut as I've seen, thanks for the tip!
    – user108765
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 21:57
  • Excellent highlight of the Help menu power of OSX... :)
    – shender
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 8:32
  • 1
    Please include the content of your link in your answer. Don't just link to it. Links can and will die. Thank you.
    – 2540625
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:13

A combination of some judicious AppleScript and a good utility to trigger scripts with a keystroke will do the trick, if all else fails.


I just recently was forced to switch to Apple Mail and I encountered the same issues, namely lacking a simple keyboard method to move mail from one folder to another without lifting my hands off the keyboard. I found the answer by using Keyboard Maestro (although any keyboard macro program will work) to create a "select or show a menu item" action that selects the the menu item "Message/Move To." This works very well and is simple to implement. Once the menu item is actuated, you just start typing the folder name you want until the folder you want is highlighted and then you press return/enter to move the originally selected mail items or items.

The keyboard macro for Keyboard Maestro

If you have nested folders, you will need to open them up in Mail (i.e., click the triangles to the left of the parent folders) otherwise the command won't reveal the nested folders (unless you actually click on them, which I don't want to do). In practice, having this long list of folders open in mail is irrelevant because you're not going to have to drag and drop any folders into the list with your mouse, you do it from the keyboard.

  • I start to be really dependent of this beautiful application :D Already use it to inverse my number row and to create a virtual arrow keys with JKLI and also to simulate some Windows keyboard shortcut and now I add those little gems like this one. Thanks!!
    – Samuel
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 11:11

Try MsgFiler ($9.99) from the AppStore.


My understanding is that keyboard shortcuts for moving messages to specific folders relate to those which already are on the bookmark bar or which you have added to it.

The keyboard sequence is Command-Control-BookmarkNumber (the number arrived at by counting from left to right on the bookmark bar).

  • 1
    Also, Command-BookmarkNumber takes you to the matching mailbox. There's a full list of keyboard shortcuts in Mail help. Try typing "keyboard shortcuts in mail" in Mail Help's search box. Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 15:46
  • Are you describing creating a specific bookmark number for every folder? Interesting, but this isn't exactly what I'm looking for. I'd like to refer to it by its name when I want to interact with it. And there are dozens of them across all my accounts. Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 15:47
  • 1
    Thanks! I've looked at mail.app's keyboard shortcut list and there's nothing about invoking a dialogue where i can type the substring of a folder name to jump to or move items to. Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 15:49
  • Yes, my experience is that folder/mailbox interaction is limited to those which are on the bookmark bar. Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 15:50
  • Coming from Outlook, a shortcut to open up a dialog where you can type the name of a folder to move a message to is something I miss, but this is a somewhat workable substitution.
    – matt b
    Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 13:11

Using Shift-command-? opens a drop down box. Then you type the first few letters of the folder name and return and the email is transferred. Ba Da Boom!


As @Vincent mentioned built-in keyboard shortcuts exist:

To move or copy an item to a mailbox folder:

  1. Press Cmd-? or Cmd-Shift-/ to access the Help > Search menu.
  2. Type in the name of your folder.
  3. Press arrow down once for Move To or twice for Copy To and hit return.

What @Vincent didn't mention was how to jump to a folder.

To jump to a folder or highlight matching folders:

  1. Press Cmd-Option-F to access Mailbox Search (Edit > Finder > Mailbox Search)
  2. Type in the name of the folder (at least 4 characters for mailboxes that are more 4 or more characters long; otherwise they don't show as matches)
  3. Press Cmd-down arrow to jump down category matches found quickly (e.g., People, Messages, Mailboxes, Attachments)
  4. Press down/up arrow (if necessary) to select an item within a category
  5. Press return to perform the action
  • Thanks! Most of the answers dealt with moving emails, but the jump-to-folder is the thing I was missing...
    – MOK9
    Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 16:09

I've been a power Gmail user for years, and I like the new version of Mail.app a lot.

However, I've since found Sparrow, which is now my favorite email client on Mac. It has a similar (and easier) set of shortcuts like Gmail (although you can elect to use Gmail's).

For $10 US, the app is one that I'm recommending to a lot of friends. It's also integrated with Shortmail, which I'm enjoying.

Good luck,


  • Does it integrate fully with Exchange features, or is it just an IMAP client? (voted your answer up for the info either way) Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 14:34
  • @malgorithms Sparrow is/was Gmail/IMAP/POP only
    – matt b
    Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 13:03
  • 1
    Sparrow is dead since 2012.
    – slhck
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 8:37

Vincents answer is helpful and was unknown to me. I also was looking for an answer and found this to be helpful for me:

Add a move-to button to the mail-app tool bar by right clicking in the toolbar area and selecting "customize toolbar".

easy :)

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