1 2 Previous Next 26 Replies Latest reply: Sep 8, 2009 9:14 AM by alykas236
DavePhoto Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
In every mail client I have ever used (Outlook, Outlook Express, Entourage, Thunderbird, etc.) you can set a value for how long to wait after selecting an unread message before it is marked as read. In Mail, as soon as you touch a message it is immediately marked as read. I have found nothing in any preference, and I have searched for an add-on to Mail, but so far have found nothing.

Is there any hidden preference or terminal command that can be issued to force Mail to wait say 8 seconds after selecting a message before marking it read?

I rely on being able to do a quick scan of the preview pane in all of my other mail clients and making a quick decision if I need to respond to the message immediately or can wait. I like leaving the message marked as unread so I do not forget it. With Mail, as soon as I select the message it is marked as read so I lose my ability to scan old messages and see what I still need to respond to.

This seems like a pretty major usability limitation.

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.4)
  • 1. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    Mulder Level 6 Level 6 (8,980 points)
    Actually, as soon as you open a message it is marked as Read; this assumes you're not splitting the Message Viewer pane into two parts, where the message is displayed underneath immediately when you select it.

    But there is no way to change that value, and I think it's fair to say that not many people consider it a limitation in usability or anything else. There's nothing stopping you from marking it as Unread again, if you so choose.

  • 2. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    kehall Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hmmmm I would actually find it useful too, maybe there are people out there who aren't being vocal enough!... An option so the choice is left to the end user is all that is needed - marking each item as unread is counterproductive when used in this way!

  • 3. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    Austin Kinsella1 Level 6 Level 6 (11,505 points)
    So, after you have read it, you want Mail to leave it marked unread? This is counter-intuitive. Surely the fact that it is still in your in-box is a sufficient reminder that it needs to be dealt with?

  • 4. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    asquires13 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Guys, this is a limitation to the Mail app, so lets be vocal about it!

    What reason have the developers for not allowing users to have this option? So many users of competitor's products find this functionality useful. It's all about how to manage your inbox, I am one who leaves e-mails marked as 'unread' to help indicate which ones I need to give my attention to in the near future.

    I posted a question about this 10 months ago... and a slight workaround was proposed, but as of August 2008, Apple still haven't listened to us.

  • 5. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    JFD72 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    DavePhoto is absolutely right...there are many reasons to keep messages from being marked 'read' on preview pane. (Fewer if you open it).

    Apple should absolutely allow a preference to be set at least on preview to NOT mark a msg as read simply by previewing it.
  • 6. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    icletus Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    Although I personally leave items in the Inbox that still need to be dealt with after reading them, I can see how taking it a step further and re-labeling it unread may help some. Never heard of a timer though.

    Seems to put a person under the guy to either read fast so it remains labeled "unread," or what happens if it is a simple/short read?? it forces you to sit and wait until the time is up before labeling it read.... isn't that counter productive?

    Why not try the keyboard short cut to "mark" it as you wish. Default is going to be Mark as read once you've opened it, and a quick keyboard shortcut will re-label it unread if you so wish, plus there is no time limit or rush either way?? just an idea.

    MBP 2.16 GHz C2D, 2GB RAM, 160HD
  • 7. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    Daniel Cygrymus1 Level 1 Level 1 (35 points)
    What bothers me about iMail, is that I cannot bounce individual pieces of junk mail without it causing the email to open as read.
  • 8. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    Jeffrey Jones2 Level 6 Level 6 (8,510 points)
    Never bounce spam! It can't possibly do any good, and will probably cause more harm. Spammers don't use legitimate email addresses, but they often spoof an address that belongs to an innocent victim.
  • 9. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    asquires13 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Yes, you have a point about having to wait for an e-mail to be marked as read if it only takes you 2 seconds to read: which is why it would be good to let users define the number of seconds that it delays 'mark as read'.

    I personally experience many more instances of not wishing to have mail marked as read rather than having to wait for mail to be marked as read (with a 5 second delay specified in Thunderbird). Also, should a 5 second limit be chosen, and I have indeed finished reading it after 2, then (in Thunderbird) I just hit 'return' to open the e-mail properly (rather than just viewing it in the preview pane), and then I close it again with Cmd+w.

    This kind of 'delay mark as read by x seconds' feature would significantly improve the Mail's Preview pane. I think a lot of people are just looking for more flexibility in their work flow with Mail.
  • 10. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    robotspacer Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Perhaps, but it's also pretty counter-intuitive to assume that I've "read" the next message just because I file the current one away somewhere (or delete it). But that's exactly what happens.

    - I have several new emails
    - I select one and reply to it
    - I then delete the message or file it in another folder
    - The next message is immediately selected and marked as read

    Even if I haven't looked at it, even if I deselect it immediately.

    But more to the point, it's often very useful to glance at a message just to decide if you want to take the time to fully read it now or wait until later. I haven't read it, I've just skimmed it a bit.

    The problem is worse if you're sharing an email account with others--which is something I'm doing right now for customer support emails. The setup I have works beautifully for the most part, but I'm constantly having to mark messages as unread to make it clear there are new messages that haven't actually been read or replied to.

    Oh and yes, the fact that they're in my inbox makes it clear I need to deal with them. But I have my support emails filed in a separate mailbox so I can deal with them when I'm ready. We rely on the unread count (the number next to the folder name) to see if there's anything that needs to be dealt with. Otherwise we'd waste a lot of time clicking around to see if there are new messages.

    Message was edited by: robotspacer
  • 11. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    Jeffery Nunes Level 1 Level 1 (90 points)
    i'll voice my frustration with the message status and preview pain (err um pane)...

    often i accidentally change the message status by either 1- inadvertently clicking, 2- next msg gets opened when i move or delete a message, 3- wanting to transfer the unread message to another mail box and selecting it to transfer it changes the status, etc... i'd be happier if i could use a modifier key to select a message and not make it's status change...

    haven't sent in my feedback, yet... but it's on my list...

  • 12. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    Lulu Charlotte Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I agree a timer or way to keep a message marked as unread until you actually open it would be VERY useful. In Outlook, you simply select an option that says keep mail marked as unread when viewing in the preview pane. It is the marked as read once you double click and open the message. It should be an easy addition to Mail, and I really cannot believe this option is not available. This tells me it's one of the reasons Mac doesn't appeal to business people who have to manage hundreds of emails a day... I hope it is fixed soon so I'm not stuck with being forced to continue using Windows
  • 13. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,695 points)
    Austin Kinsella1 wrote:
    So, after you have read it, you want Mail to leave it marked unread? This is counter-intuitive.

    No and no.

    If the preview pane is open, just pressing the arrow key to navigate messages can pass through a message on the way to a message you actually do want to read right now, but the messages you moved over get marked as Read even though you didn't actually stop to read them.

    Surely the fact that it is still in your in-box is a sufficient reminder that it needs to be dealt with?

    An InBox can contain many messages that are in process and not completed as well as messages that are dealt with but there has not yet been time to file them, or messages kept in the In box because they relate other pressing unresolved business. That's what all the flags and markers are for. When you discount the value of the Unread marker, you render that feature valueless. A timeout value helps retain the value and meaning of that feature.

    I deal with it by turning off the Preview pane so that the only messages that get marked read are the ones I actually stop to read. But that workaround destroys the value of the Preview pane. Bottom line is that Mail should let us do what other mail apps do.
  • 14. Re: No preview timer in Mail???
    mjunge Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I second that, though I'd set the timer to 'Never' and just set read/unread manually (keyboard shortcut, contextual menu, double click, and whatnot).

    You could say that the Preview pane is not currently that, but is merely a View pane.
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