Sending email at the right time can mean the difference between receiving a prompt response and waiting all day. As someone who lives in Australia with colleagues who mostly reside in the US or Europe, I know what this feels like.
Apple’s Mail app doesn’t come with a scheduler by default, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare messages in advance and send them at a later point in time.
Aside from the aforementioned nature of working in a world that never sleeps (even when it’s dark), scheduling email has a few other benefits too. The first is about managing expectations– how is anyone ever going to know the best time to reach you if you’re always available?
We exist in a world dominated by read receipts, where we feel compelled to reply to anything the second we have seen it – even if it’s 3 a.m. Maybe you work best at unholy hours in your pyjamas, but your coworkers don’t need to know this when you can schedule everything for 8 a.m. on Monday morning.
Finally there are a few other compelling reasons to delay sending that email. Maybe it’s really important, and you need to read over it before you send it. Maybe it’s someone’s birthday next week. Maybe the recipient is away for 2 weeks, and you’d rather yours be near the top of the pile when they return.
There are two ways of doing this on your Mac. You can either make do with the software you already have, or invest in a cheap paid tool to make life easier.
Scheduling With Automator
Automator is probably your Mac’s most neglected program – find it in the Utilities folder, or search for it using Spotlight. It allows you to record workflows and automate all kinds of tasks, saving time and effort. You can use Automator to schedule an email by creating an application that sends your message, then scheduling that application to run.
1) Open Automator on your Mac and choose Application when prompted.
2) Under the Actions sidebar choose Mail, then click and drag New Mail Message into the panel on the right.
3) Enter the recipient and contents of your email. If you would like to send multiple emails at this time, keep adding them using the New Mail Message action.
4) Finally click and drag Send Outgoing Mail into the workflow, ensuring it’s at the very bottom.
5) Hit File > Save and make sure “Application” is chosen before saving.
6) Open Calendar, navigate to the date you would like to send your message and create a new event.
7) Double-click the event to bring up its info, click on the date, then activate the Alert drop-down menu and choose Custom. In the box that turns up choose Open file, and point it at the Automator application you just made. Adjust the timing if you like, then click OK.
And that’s how you schedule mail using Automator and Calendar, provided your Mac is awakeat the time you have set it to schedule. You can get much more fancy with this (like adding attachments and setting up regular alarms) and there are even Calendar events within Automator to play with, for even deeper integration.
Of course, it is a little bit clunky…
If you think you’re going to be scheduling a lot of email, SendLater from Chungwa Soft might be worth the relatively low €8.95 price of entry. It’s a very simple tweak that adds an additional “send” button to Mail.app, using which you can schedule a message to send at a later date. Until you choose to buy it, it will nag – but there doesn’t appear to be any more restrictions.
The benefits of using this app outweigh the cost if you have a specific need for scheduled email. The ability to compose messages within your regular app, schedule replies, use auto-completion for adding addresses and anything else Mail does is still there, without the clunkiness of having to resort to Automator.
SendLater strives for user-friendliness, and that’s what you get. For the occasional single email, Automator is more than capable. For more regular scheduling purposes, use SendLater. Note that it too depends on your Mac being awake!
There’s also an add-on called Send Later for Postbox/Thunderbird, so check that out if you’re tempted to switch mail clients. If neither of these methods are suitable, or you spend a lot of time inside the Gmail web interface, you might have more joy with Boomerang for Gmail instead. You can even build an all-in-one point of access for your other accounts using Gmail, and kiss goodbye to mail clients for good.
How do you schedule your email?