I’ve never really spent time creating a mail “workflow” that worked for me; but recently I’ve had trouble keeping up with the email in my inbox and remebering what emails I needed to reply to. I decided to spend some time streamlining my email workflow.


The first thing I proceeded to do was to create e-mail folders (or mailboxes as they are called in Apple Mail). I was greeted by a lovely “Mailbox Creation Failed” alert panel.
Mailbox Creation Failed: Unable to create path ~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/Test.mbox.
Using my computer troubleshooting skillz I first looked at Mail’s troubleshooting section – nothing. Next I googled “Unable To Create Mailbox Apple Mail”, all i found were unanswered questions. Next I looked at the console, I found this log message related to the problem:

Couldn't create partial directory path /Users/Mike/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/Test.mbox

Well, that means absolutely nothing to me either. Finally I ended up looking in


and then comparing it to another account whose Mail.app had no trouble creating mailboxes. What I found was that for some reason in my account instead of their being a directory located at


there was a 0kb file. Deleting the file and replacing it with a folder solved the problem.


Recently there has been alot of talk about plug-ins for mail, in particular the Mail Act On plug-in. I downloaded it and immediately was impressed at how well it integrated into mail. Heres the description from the Mail Act On home page:

Mail Act-On is a plugin for Apple’s Mail (Panther) in that allows you to map specific mail rules or actions to “Act-On” keys. When viewing mail you can apply the “Act-On” action for a message by making simple keystrokes.

Mail Act-On makes use of Mail’s existing rule engine, so if you have ever created a rules, you already know 99% of what you need to know to build an Act-On action. Imagine, no AppleScripts or other macros. (Even if you haven’t ever created a mail rule, there is very little to learn!)

It does exactly what it says, and does it well. Unfortunately I found that there was not way to mark a message as unread through the “rule actions”. Luckily you can attach a applescript to a mail rule, so with some help and my almost non-existant applescript knowledge I came up with this simple Mark As Unread applescript.

So now my inbox is alot more organized, I have alot of un-replied emails that I’m working on replying to and a ton of feature requests that I’m organizing but I’m slowly reaching the point of greater email organization.

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5 Responses to “”

  • Read your entry on Mail Act-On — thanks for the spot. Just want to let you know that MailTags has the ability to make a rule to mark a message Unread. — I plan to integrate that rule into Act-On (makes more sense there) but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Anyhow — with MailTags — you get that and more.

  • No problem, thanks for making the great plugins!!

    I looked at mailtags, but it was just too much for such a simple thing such a marking a message as unread.

    I found that you also mark a message as replied by replacing the “set read status of eachMessage to false” in the Mark As Unread applescript to “set was replied to of eachMessage to true”.

  • Thanks for you “genius” fix for “mailbox creation failed”.

    If you run for President, you’ll get my vote !!!!


  • Thank you – apple itself has the worst help for importing email troubleshooting. Your blog is great and super helpful!!!

  • Hi,

    I had given up on ever having mailboxes! Thank you for the info. Now is the time to run for president.


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