Leopard Tip: How to create Mail To Dos from messages

Mail is one of Apple's core apps that has arguably received some of the largest updates in Leopard. It's much faster with large mailboxes and multiple IMAP accounts, and it has received a slew of new features and UI enhancements. One of those is the "To Do" feature. Not only can you now fire off a To Do in Mail about that one thing you've gotta do some day, but these To Dos will sync with iCal. Mark a To Do complete in iCal, it gets checked in Mail, and vice versa. HangZhou Night Net

With this newfound ability to get more productive in Mail, many users naturally want to be able to create To Dos from Mail messages that retain some kind of association with the message from which they were forged. Simply hitting Mail's To Do button with a message highlighted doesn't quite cut it; you're simply taken to Mail's primary To Do pane to create a fresh one.

Fortunately, it is both possible and easy to create To Dos in Mail that are associated with a message. It's perhaps not quite as intuitive as some of us at the Orbiting HQ would have liked, so here's a quick how-to for your To Dos.

All you really need to do to get Mail to associate a To Do with a message is select text in a message before hitting the To Do button in the toolbar or using the File > New To Do command. Instead of switching to Mail's To Do area, a To Do pane will drop down above the current message's header, and the To Do name will be filled in with your selected text. From here you can adjust all the expected features, like adding a due date with an alarm, assigning a priority, and selecting a calendar.

After your To Do has been created, it's really easy to bring up is associated message when checking off To Dos in Mail or even in iCal. In Mail's To Do list, a gray arrow (highlighted in the picture above) appears at the end of each To Do that is associated with a message. Clicking that arrow pops up the message in a new window instead of whisking you away to your message list. Personally, I love this behavior, as it doesn't interrupt my To Do pruning or force me to go somewhere else; it just brings the message to me. In iCal, double-clicking a To Do to bring up the new editor pop-up will feature a "Show in Mail" link which brings Mail to the front and opens the associated message in a new window.

This is a great enhancement and appears to work pretty well so far. It is also worth noting, however, that events created from Mail's new sniffing abilities (i.e., if someone e-mails you to say "let's get dinner Monday at 8 pm" Mail allows you to click that phrase and create a new iCal event) will feature a "Show in Mail" link as well. While you can check out John Siracusa's official Ars Leopard review to get the whole low-down on Leopard, we can say Mail's new integration with iCal is working well so far.