For a long time, I’ve struggled with having important email archived in one place. I’ve switched between several clients over the years, from Eudora and Mailsmith and even Cyberdog, in the very early Mac days, to more recently the fairly reliable Apple Mail. Yet I still occasionally lose old email when switching between machines and not handling the migration properly.
Last year I set out to fix this. While I didn’t do an exhaustive search of archiving options, the main solutions I considered were:
- Switch to Gmail. There are plenty of native clients for Gmail, but I fundamentally don’t like the idea of an ad-supported email service. I’m very happy with Fastmail and want to continue using it.
- Local archiving with EagleFiler. This gets the email archived in a central place outside whatever mail client I’m using, which is great. However, I’d like something that is focused on cloud search first.
- Save to files on Dropbox. All of my notes are stored on Dropbox, so why not put an email archive there too? But Dropbox doesn’t seem well-suited to accessing and searching easily.
- Save to Evernote. I’ve never actively used Evernote for notes. Using Evernote for email would keep the email separate from normal notes on Dropbox, and Evernote already has excellent support for forwarding email into their system. I’d be able to search the archive from my Mac, iPhone, or the web.
I’ve settled into a pretty basic workflow of using Evernote to save any email that looks moderately valuable. This is usually a handful of messages each day, not every email I receive or send. By picking and choosing what gets archived, I can ignore everything else, letting it sit in Mail’s archive indefinitely or deleting it.
Here’s an AppleScript I currently trigger in Mail for any selected message I want to archive. It’s set to command-shift-S via FastScripts. If I’m away from my Mac, or I want to preserve HTML and inline attachments, I can save an email by forwarding it to a special Evernote email address. (I also pay for Evernote Premium.)
Now that I’m about a year and thousands of archived messages into this setup, I’m declaring it a success. I plan to continue using Evernote in this way for years to come. Let’s just hope they’re on the right track with their own business.