How to set up and start using Mail for Mac

How do I set up the Mail app on Mac? Here's how!

The Mail app for Mac lets you use any email account you have without having to constantly go to that service's website. You can sync your Gmail accounts, Outlook accounts, carrier-specific accounts, school accounts, work accounts… You get the picture.

All you have to do is set things up. Here's how!

How to set up an email account

The first step to using the Mail app for Mac is to set up your email account so that you start receiving email in the Mail app.

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or Finder.
  2. Click an email provider based on what type of email account you have. If you have an email address with a domain other than what's provided (like a school or work email address that's not based in any of the big providers), click Other Mail Account.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. Enter your email address and password.
  5. Click the checkmark next to each app you'd like to use with this account.
  6. Click Done.

    Click an email provider, click Continue, enter your email address and password, click the checkmark next to each app you want to use with this account, click Done

If you have multiple email accounts, you can just repeat the process to see them all in the Mail app.

How to set how often Mail checks for new messages

Since the Mail app has to go and fetch your email from whichever service you use, you can set how often it checks for new messages.

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or Finder.
  2. Click Mail in the menu bar on the top left of your screen.
  3. Click Preferences.
  4. Click the General tab if you're not already there.
  5. Click the dropdown menu next to Check for new messages.
  6. Click a frequency. You can have it check as much as every minute or as infrequently as every hour. You can also choose to check only manually.

    Click Mail, click Preferences, click the General tab, click the dropdown next to Check for new messages, click a frequency

How to select Mail notification sounds

You can choose which sound alerts you to new Mail.

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or Finder.
  2. Click Mail in the menu bar in the upper left corner of your screen.
  3. Click Preferences.
  4. Click the General tab if you're not already there.
  5. Click the dropdown menu next to New messages sound.
  6. Click the sound you'd like to hear when a new message arrives. Each time you click a sound, it'll play a preview.

    Click Mail, click Preferences, click the General tab, click the dropdown next to New messages sounds like, click the sound you want to hear when you get email

How to add a signature

Your email signature is what appears beneath the body of your email in every single message you send: If you customize yours, you'll never need to type your name at the end of an email again.

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or Finder.
  2. Click Mail in the menu bar on the top left of your screen.
  3. Click Preferences.
  4. Click the Signatures tab.

    Click Mail, click Preferences, click the Signatures tab

  5. Click the account to which you'd like to add a signature.
  6. Click the + button on the lower center of the window.
  7. Type your signature in the window on the far right. It can be whatever you like.
  8. Click the centre window to change the name of your signature.
  9. Click the dropdown menu next to Choose signature.
  10. Click an option:

    • None
    • The signature you've just created
    • At Random
    • In Sequential Order

      Click the account to which you want to add a signature, click the add button, type your signature and give it a name, click the dropdown next to Choose signature, click an option

How to send a new email

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or from Finder.
  2. Click the Compose button.
  3. Enter the email address of the person to whom you'd like to send a message. You can enter multiple email addresses.
  4. Enter a Subject for your email.
  5. Type the body of your email.
  6. Click the Send button. It looks like a paper airplane on the top left of the message window.

    Click the compose button, type out your email, click Send

How to reply to an email

If you've received an email, you likely want to answer it. Here's how to reply:

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or Finder.
  2. Click the email to which you'd like to respond.
  3. Click the Reply button, which looks like a single curved arrow. If there are multiple recipients of the email, you can also choose to reply to all of them but click the Reply All button, which looks like two curved arrows. You can also forward the email if you want to share it with other people by click the Forward button, which is a right-pointing arrow next to the reply buttons.
  4. Write and send the email.

    Click the email to which you want to reply, click Reply, Reply All, or Forward, type out your email, and send it

How to view and download email attachments

Half the fun of sending and receiving email is getting photos and videos, especially those that are too large to send via iMessage. Oftentimes, a photo will appear right in the email, but you can download them as well.

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or Finder.
  2. Open the email that contains the attachment you want to download.
  3. Double-click a document in the body of the email to view it. Photos usually appear in the body of the email.
  4. Mouse over the white area next to To and From and all of that information.
  5. Click the downward arrow next to the number on the little menu that pops up.
  6. Click the name of the attachment file.
  7. Click Save after choosing the save location and titling the file the way you want it.

    Mouse over the area above the message, click the dropdown, click the attachment name, click Save

How to search for specific email messages

  1. Launch the Mail app from your dock or Finder.
  2. Click the search bar on the top right of the window.
  3. Type your search query. It can be an email address, subject, name, or even just specific words from an email.
  4. Optionally click a search option in the drop down that appears.

    Click the search bar, type your search query, click a search option

  5. Optionally click a folder to search. You can search specific folders or just search All.
  6. Click the email message you'd like to open.

    Click a folder

macOS High Sierra will introduce the Top Hits feature, which is powered by Spotlight and puts the email messages that are most relevant to your search at the top of the list. Top Hits bases its results on things like the email you've read, your VIP contacts, the people you reply to, and more.

How to filter email by Unread

If you receive a ton of email, it can be hard to keep track of which ones you've read and which ones you haven't. But it doesn't have to be; you can filter your email by Unread.

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock of Finder.
  2. Click View in the menu bar on the top left of your screen.
  3. Click Sort By.
  4. Click Unread.

    Click View, click Sort By, click Unread

All unread messages will be moved to the top of the list.

How to mark an email as Unread

If you'd like to revisit an email but don't want it to get lost among the others, you can mark it as unread so that it appears at the top of your inbox.

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or Finder.
  2. Right-click on the email you'd like to mark as Unread.
  3. Click Mark as Unread.

    Right-click the email, click Mark as Unread

Alternatively, if you have a Magic Mouse, you can swipe right on the email and click Unread, just like on iPhone or iPad.

How to delete an email

After a while, your inbox can get to be pretty full. Delete some of the stuff you don't need anymore!

  1. Launch Mail from the Dock or Finder.
  2. Click the email you would like to delete. If you would like to delete multiple messages, you can click one, hold shift and click another. All messages between each clicked message will be selected. If you do not want to delete many messages in a row, you can hold command as you click.
  3. Click the Delete button at the top of the window. It's the trash can.

    Click the email, click the Delete button

You can alternatively right click on your inbox and click delete, or, if you have a Magic Mouse, you can swipe left and click the trash can.

Questions?

Have a question about setting up and using the Mail app for Mac? Let us know in the comments below!

Need some help with the Mail app for iPhone? Check this out:

Mail: The ultimate guide

Wanna know what's new in Mail for macOS High Sierra?

What's new in Mail in macOS High Sierra