The Schrödinger Smart Inbox Forces You To Act On Important Emails

The Schrödinger Smart Inbox Forces You To Act On Important Emails

Email is one of the biggest time sinks we have. It’s easy to either ignore a message completely or spend hours catching up on every single one. Technology blogger Dbuntinx’s solution was to create a smart inbox that acts something like Schrödinger’s cat and only shows unread email.

Dbuntinx uses Apple Mail’s Smart Inbox feature (most email clients have something similar) so that only unread emails are visible to him and everything else is hidden. This means two rules must be met: the emails must be in the inbox, and they must be unread. So, once you read a message, it disappears from the smart inbox. Dbuntix explains:

Once you start reading a message in this Smart Unread Inbox, it’s actually not part of it anymore. It’s in this sort of Schrödinger state, which only exists as long as you keep the e-mail open. So you have to act upon it, otherwise it will disappear forever into the mists that are the cloud.

Setting this up in Apple Mail is pretty simple:

  1. Click the + sign in the bottom left corner and select, “New Smart Mailbox.”
  2. For the first rule, select, “Message is in Mailbox” and select your inbox.
  3. Click the plus sign to add another rule.
  4. Select “Message is Unread” for the second rule, and click ok.

When you’re done setting up your smart mailbox, hide the sidebar in Mail so you only see what’s in the smart inbox. When you read an email, it disappears from that mailbox, so it’s up to you to reply to it right away or let it disappear.

# The Ultimate E-mail Lifehack [Dbuntinx via Minimal Mac]


  • Email is broken – just broken. It’s killing us, but it needn’t.

    Tricking and hacking it (there’s +1000 ways to do this) doesn’t work for everyone, so I propose the following;

    If there are any other readers who’d like to team up to fix this problem with Windows app development experience, I’d like to team up to try an address one or all of the main problems with email, let me know, I will post my email address to this thread if there are any legit takers.

    Thanks – Kendal.

  • I do this already, but sadly it doesn’t force me to act on emails immediately – all it does is force me to mark them “unread” after having read them. Now, if we could disable that, on the other hand…

    What this actually does is achieve a happy medium whereby you are forced to continually mark an email as “unread” until you’ve acted on it, which induces the desired level of guilt-trip.

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