Friday, June 18, 2021

Spam is dead

 “Spam is dead. Spam remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we occupy our free time, the murderers of all murderers? What was the mightiest waste of time has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What tradition is there for us to clean our inboxes? What habits of atonement, what sacred inbox cleansing games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?” - some guy who knows how to use email rules

Below is how my work inbox works.

1. Categorize

Create rules that apply labels and can help you to identify your email better. Example: If the sender's address contains the words 'amazon.com', then apply the following category “Amazon.”

2. Catch

Create rules that catch email; these rules are the same as categorize rules but include “Stop processing more rules.” Example: If the sender's address contains these words 'amazon.com', then apply the following category “Amazon” and stop processing more rules on this message.

Because you have stopped processing more rules on this message, no further rules will move this message to any other folder. Instead, it will stay in your inbox. Catch rules are how you whitelist mail.

3. Move

Create rules that move messages to folders. Most of us have this already. Example: If the sender's address contains these words 'lego.com', then move the message to folder 'lego stuff' and stop processing more rules on this message.

4. Screen

This is the final rule and the magic to becoming uninterruptable. Create a rule and a folder called “The Screen.” Example: If a message arrives in my inbox, move the message to folder 'The Screen,' except when the senders address contains these words: '@example.com'

All mail not whitelisted using a “Catch” rule will be moved to “The Screen.” I exclude internal mail from this rule so that my coworkers are never screened out of my inbox.

So, now that we know how the physics work let's do some applied science and go over some of my favorite email rules.

Useful Categorizations

  1. Categorize external messages: If a message arrives in my inbox, apply the following category: “External,” except when the sender's address contains these words: 'example.com'
  2. Categorize internal direct messages: If the sender's address contains these words: 'example.com' and the message was sent. only to me., apply the following category “Direct.”
  3. Categorize Receipts: If the message includes specific words in the subject or body 'receipt' or 'order' or 'invoice,' apply the following category: “Receipts.”

Catch Rules

It's useful to know that you can catch email based on any context you can create a rule for, but the way I use them is I have a catch rule for individual email addresses and a catch rule for domains.

  1. Catch a domain: If the sender's address contains these words 'microsoft.com', then categorize as “Whitelisted” and stop processing more rules.
  2. Catch certain email addresses: If the sender is “[email protected],” then categorize as “Important” and stop processing more rules.

Move Rules

  1. Move Indirect Messages: If you find that you get a lot of messages from internal mailing lists like “[email protected]urorg.com” or if you find that people are using the BCC field to get past your mail rules, you should make an “Indirect” message folder and rule, make sure it's your last move rule otherwise it will sort mailing lists into indirect that you intended to go to their own folder: If the sender's address contains these words: '@yourorg.com' and my name is not in the to box move the message to folder 'Indirect.'
  2. Something useful to know is that most email clients (outlook, apple mail, thunderbird) organize your folders alphabetically and numerically, so if you want a certain folder to appear at the top of your folders list, you can add “1.” in front of the name. So it will always be at the top.
  3. Another useful tidbit is that messages moved by “move rules” do not generate alerts in most email clients.

The Screen

The screening rule should always be at the end of your rules. Otherwise, you will inadvertently screen everything. I always add my organization's domain as an exception to this rule but nothing else.

The end, this is how I now live a spam-free life. An honorable mention should go to fastmail.com, who gives their users the ability to make rules that filter out people not added to your contacts list; I wish more email providers had this. And Hey.com who's whole product is basically the screen rule.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Hide users in macOS

If you need to assist a user, but don't want them to see your user account when they log in, learn how to hide a user account on the macOS login window.

1. Log in as an admin user.

2. Use this Terminal command. Substitute the short name of the user that you want to hide for “hiddenuser”:

sudo dscl . create /Users/hiddenuser IsHidden 1

The user account is also hidden in System Preferences the next time it's opened. This command can't be used with the Guest user account. Learn how to manage the Guest user account.