In Apple Mail is there a way to edit the subject line of an email that's in the Inbox? This is just for internal filing reasons.

Say, for example, you get sent an email with the subject line 'attn:sam'. That subject line doesn't really help me if I want to go back and find it, so could I rename that subject line somehow?


While technically it's possible, it's not trivial. You would have to write an applescript to search/replace the contents of your subject field and then use apple mail filters and run applescript based on your rule.

This is commonly done in the unix world via procmail, for example when spamassassin detects spam, procmail appends SPAM to the email subject message.

it might be better to set up rules based on subject to filter your mail into separate boxes for organization.


There is a (somewhat convoluted) way to do it:

To edit a message in a Mac OS X Mail folder:

  • Drag and drop the desired message out of Mac OS X Mail onto the Desktop

  • Ctrl-click on the message copy on the Desktop. Select Open With > TextEdit from the menu

  • Make the desired changes to the message source. To change a message's subject, look for "Subject:" at the beginning of a line starting from the top

  • Close TextEdit saving the document

  • Ctrl-click on the message on the Desktop again. Select Open With > Mail from the menu

  • Now select Message > Copy To followed by the message's original folder from the menu in Mac OS X Mail

  • Close the message window

  • Delete the message copy from your Desktop, and optionally, delete the original message in Mac OS X Mail

Hope this helps.


Actually there isn't a way for renaming the "Subject" field. It wouldn't be the right way in my opinion.

I think you should leverage on "Mailbox" and/ord "Smart Mailbox" for organizing your mails. They help you when you have to find a mail for a specific "topic".

  1. Copy a "unique" bit of text (this can be large, even a paragraph, but it must be unique) and paste it into "Spotlight" to search for the actual email message you want to alter.

  2. Once the email message is identified by Spotlight, right click on it and choose "open with", then "other" and navigate to TextEdit. Open that mail message with TextEdit.

  3. The text will have a lot of code in it but the message is there and can be edited and then saved. Once saved, the mail program will reflect the edited version of the message.

  4. You may have to reselect that mail message to see the modified version of it.

This has worked for me in doing things like deleting a password that was emailed to me on a message that I wanted to keep, or correcting an error in the text or adding a note at the top of the text. However, I haven't modified the subject field. This might act differently since it is displayed in other places in Mail. Something may have to "update" before a changed subject header is reflected in the lists. Experiment a little to see what works.


It's possible if you move (drag & drop) the Mail from the inbox to the mail drafts folder. There you can edit the mail by doupble-klicking, change the subject or text, close it and move it again to the inbox.

Unfortunately the time-stamp is adapted as well.

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