customize Mac Mail

The official Mail app is perhaps the most used software title on macOS. To maximize your Mail experience, you should consider customizing your email settings. Here are the ways you can customize the email app on Mac.

Check for new messages frequency

You can adjust the Mail app to check for new emails automatically, according to a schedule, or manually. With a schedule, you can decide how much time should pass before the system looks for new mail again.

  1. In the app, click on Mail in the macOS menu bar.
  2. From the Mail pulldown menu, select Preferences.
  3. Click on the pulldown to the right of Check for new messages.

check for new messages time

Your choices are: Automatic, Every minute, every 5 minutes, every 10 minutes, every 30 minutes, every hour, or Manual.

By default, the system checks for new mail automatically. You may want to change this setting if you don't want to be disturbed by receiving further emails, have a slow connection or some other issue.

Change new message sound

When you receive a new message in Mail, you can get a sound alert on your Mac. To adjust this setting:

  1. Select Mail from the Mail menu bar.
  2. Click on Preferences.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. Click on the pulldown to the right of New messages sound.

Mail alert sounds

You can select from a list of over 10 built-in sounds. You can hear a sample by clicking on them.

Change new message notifications

Perhaps you don't want to be alerted when every new email arrives. Instead, you only want to know when new emails arrive from specific individuals or groups.

  1. Select Mail from the Mail menu bar.
  2. Click on Preferences.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. Click on the pulldown to the right of New message notifications.

mail vip only

Your choices are Inbox Only (the default), VIPs, Contacts, or All Mailboxes.

With VIPs selected, you'll only get alerted when your most important contacts send emails. By contrast, when Contacts is selected, you'll receive a notification every time any of your contacts sends a message. With All Mailboxes, you'll receive notifications whenever a new (but unopened) message is dropped into any folder in Mail.

Change dock unread count

By default, the unread email count on the macOS dock is based on the number of unread messages in the Inbox. However, you can change this -- at least slightly.

  1. Select Mail from the Mail menu bar.
  2. Click on Preferences.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. Click on the pulldown to the right of Dock unread count.

mail dock unread

Your choices are Inbox or All Mailboxes. Selecting the latter means you'll see a count of all unread emails across all the folders in Mail -- including your junk folders.

You can turn the unread count off completely by doing the following:

  1. Click on System Preferences in the macOS dock.
  2. Select Notifications
  3. Click on Mail on the left side of the screen.
  4. Uncheck Badge app icon.

    turn off mail uncut

Make the Mail app more your own by using its built-in customization tools.

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Questions?

Let us know in the comments below if you have any more Mail tips or have questions about the email app in general!

macOS Catalina

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