Best practice with Mail integration?


One of my biggest problems using OF is the lack of integration with Mail. I see myself having two systems for remembering things; Folders in Mail and Actions in OF. I would of course like to have everything in OF.

There is the Mail Clipotron thing, but it has never worked flawlessly, in my experience.

How do you guys do? What’s the best practice regarding this? How do you do in iOS and macOS?

Bringing email into omnifocus

I simply forward actionable emails to OmniFocus using the mail drop address (unless it’s a quick email that can be responded to and filed right away).

And I stopped using Apple Mail - lack of keyboard shortcuts (e.g. for filing mail into folders) really slowed me down. And formatting of Apple Mail when sending to others, especially Outlook users, was terrible.


Mailmate ( ) has a very nice system (with appropriate keyboard shortcuts :-) for the creation of an OmniFocus task based on an email. The app is macOS only, however, the created OF tasks have a link to the email message ( as a message:// link) in the notes section, which also opens in IOS.


The macOS service for Send to OmniFocus negates the need for Clip-o-Tron and creates a task with a selected email in, including a link back to original email. I make tasks this way, and archive email to keep a clean inbox. I find this really effective with an assigned hotkey.

In iOS, on my iPad, drag and drop has the same effect. I find I don’t do this kind of processing as much on my phone, as it is better served to show me tasks than create them (IMHO).




@deturbulence — One thing to add. The Clip-o-Tron isn’t necessary when using macOS High Sierra, but is required for prior versions of macOS in order to be able to clip an email with no text selected.

More info:


Right! Thanks, @timstringer! I keep taking latest OS version for granted, and that’s not good practice.





Just thought I would add my two cents. I use Airmail, as it has an omnifocus intergration, which helpfully automatically creates links, and creates a nice pop where I can set dates, projects etc. So for a number of tasks, when they pop up, I can simply tap the link, and it will take me straight to the original email.

Also, just a hint that I picked up somewhere, that I found tremendously liberating - don’t use folders in email. Given the search functions in most emails nowadays, folders can actually get in the way. I practice zero inbox. So I triage my emails (mostly to omnifocus), and allow all of them to pop into the allmail/archive folders.


I use Hammerspoon, which is a great general-purpose automation utility for macOS. One of the things it can do is set up system-wide keyboard shortcuts. The SendToOmniFocus spoon (“spoon” is Hammerspoon’s name for a package) provides support for filing items from several different applications to OF, including and Outlook, the two mail applications I use. This way, no matter where I am, I can always press Ctrl-Cmd-Option-t to file the current message to OF. You can see the configuration I use for this here:

From iOS, I just use the built-in “share to OmniFocus” mechanism, not only from Mail but from most other apps.

(if you are interested, I have a couple of “getting started with Hammerspoon” posts in my blog)


And I stopped using Apple Mail - lack of keyboard shortcuts (e.g. for filing mail into folders) really slowed me down.

In macOS, you can define keyboard shortcuts for most menu items in any app.

If you want to define a keyboard shortcut to move the selected message(s) to a “Follow Up” folder, proceed as follows:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts.
  2. Click on the + button to add a new shortcut.
  3. Choose Mail as the application.
  4. In the Menu Title field, specify the path to the menu item you want your shortcut to be applied to, exactly as it appears in For example: Message->Move to->Follow Up. Use -> to specify sub-items. Don’t use spaces around ->.
  5. Define the shortcut.

This should become effective immediately. If not, restart

I acknowledge that 4. is a little known fact.


To add to what @lifepillar wrote, if the sub-menu items are unique you don’t need to use the “->”.

For example, if you wanted to created a shortcut to OmniFocus’ Organize > Sort Once > By Name command, you could simplify specific the menu item as “Sort Once” since there aren’t any other menu items with this name.


Thanks, but that will only really work for filing mail into a few folders. I have a hierarchy of folders and sub-folders that email messages are filed into, too many for dedicated shortcuts.

In Outlook (and a number of other mail clients, as well as Gmail) a shortcut brings up the Move window and after typing the first few letters of the folder name, the relevant matches appear and I simply arrow down and press Enter to move the message. It take a few seconds at most.

E.g in Outlook I press Shift-Cmd-M and I see this:

After a few key presses I locate the folder, highlight it and hit Enter. Very intuitive. In Apple Mail, I can only drag & drop including waiting for sub-folders to open. It’s very kludgey. Apple mail is just not built for business.


@PeterW — I recommend checking out Mail Act-On ( It’s a Mail plugin that, among other things, makes it quick and easy to file messages. This plugin has been around for many years and works well in my experience.


Thanks Tim. I did look at this a few years ago. At the time it didn’t support the latest macOS version of Mail but I can see that it does now.

Nonetheless the other issue that I mentioned above is formatting. Apple sends email messages that don’t look very good at the recipient if they use Outlook, which in the corporate world is a lot of people. Attachment handling is poor - the user must make sure that the settings in Edit-Attachments are configured to force attachments to the end of the email to avoid body content being stripped out into an attachment by Outlook.

In my view, Apple really needs to put some work into Mail to bring it to a better place. In any case, the current Outlook for Mac is very good, so there’s a solution.


You’re welcome @PeterW. Thanks for your comments as well.

Mail could definitely use some work on both Mac and iOS. I’m hoping that Apple gives it more of a priority in the future. In the meantime, I’ve managed to make it work with some help from plugins. It’s the only viable option in my case as I need something that integrates with both OmniFocus and Daylite (my business manager/CRM).


You can do that without using drag & drop. Simply add the “Move” item to your toolbar in Apple Mail. Make sure, all folders are collapsed (and not too deeply structured), then you can easily move the selected mail to a folder by clicking on the “Move” icon.


Is Hammerspoon able to file a email to OF before sending it (while composing). Or do I have send the email first, go to the sent folder and select the email?


In the current implementation, you can only file emails that already exist in a mailbox, which is not the case while you are still composing. If there’s a way to grab (and link to) the email while you are composing using Applescript (which is what the SendToOmnifocus spoon uses to get the items to file), then it would be possible to implement.

For a case like this, it might be easier to use the mail-in integration of OmniFocus, by cc’ing your message to your OF email address.


Just noting that some of the replies to a similar question I asked a few months ago might be useful:

I have been ignoring Mail to OF on iOS entirely. On macOS, I have a keyboard shortcut set up for a Keyboard Maestro macro that forwards the selected message to OF then archives the email.

I’m experimenting with a mail rule that automatically does this to any email that sits in the inbox for more than a day.