Junk Mail mode in Apple Mail

I lost my junk mail icon – how do I get it back to teach my inbox what is junk?

Mail menu > Preferences > Junk Mail

Set it to automatically Move it to the Junk mailbox, as opposed to what used to be called Training mode, which is now, in Leopard the Mark it as junk mail, but leave it in my Inbox setting.

But before you do, I would suggest leaving it in Training mode for a bit, and clicking the Junk/Not Junk button. In fact, one will initially need to train Apple Mail to recognize legit mail — newsletters and such — by clicking Not Junk.

I’ve always said a month, but that’s an arbitrary guess on my part, and is contingent on someone being vigilant about clicking the Junk/Not Junk button. Stay in Training mode until you are confident that it’s catching junk mail correctly by marking junk mail brown, and leaving non-junk along.

Make sure that you add any trusted correspondents to your address book (Message menu > Add Sender to Address Book (⌘⇧Y)) to prevent them from being mis-identified as spam.

Gmail, if you use it, and you should be using it, will catch most of the spam most of the time, but that’s how you deal with the rest.

J2 News #4: Preachin’ What We Practice

A Promotion

Before I get to my announcements and tips, I want to tell everyone about some new promotions. We hope you’ll like these new, more affordable ways for you to get Chicken Soup for your Macs.

System Upgrades

At the end of 2008, I said I was going to make some improvements to our service. Today, I’m proud to formally announce our new web site at j2mac.com, a place for you to connect to us, and to get information that we hope you find helpful in your computing life.

First, right away, I’m excited to tell you about our new, incredibly handy Schedule page. There, you’ll find up-to-date calendars for me and Erick.

Whenever you want to schedule some time with J2, please call 210.787.2709, or email us at schedule@j2mac.com. You can pick an available time — a blank spot in one of our calendars — and call or email our new scheduling coordinator, Denise Rangel. When Denise books your appointment, we are able to see it immediately on our iPhones. Denise has freed up a great deal of time for us to concentrate on doing what we do best. Many thanks go to Lynn Gosnell for helping inaugurate this new system.

Jonathan conducting J2 Lab I
For me, the most fun and useful part of j2mac.com is the searchable blog, which lets us post commentary on the tech solutions and answers that we employ. Check it out when you have a chance; there are all kinds of tidbits for Mac and iPhone users, and lots to help any surfer get more out of the internet.

We have also begun to create histories of the work we do for you. We keep the documentation online, viewable to anyone in our organization; we also share your sheet with you (and only you), and you can call it up from a web browser any time. I’ll send you a link when we first create your doc.

I recently discovered another powerful online gizmo that I didn’t even know I had: Check out this Client Information Form that folks can fill out online, giving us basic contact information but lots of other things we need to know, such as your internet service provider, current models of computers, etc. We are also going to send out some polls and surveys — check the sidebar to the right of this page for the latest one!

That’s the stuff that you’ll see — what web site designers call the "front end." Behind the scenes, we are using some fantastic online devices that I’ll describe below. They have saved us time, sped up our process, and helped us kept each other informed and up-to-date.

All of these tools are readily available, and easy to set up. But here’s the amazing part: They are all free. 100% of zero dollars. Beyond what I was already paying for my web site hosting, I haven’t had to spend a dime making our working lives more productive and more efficient.

And now, I wanna tell you how.

Better, stronger, faster, and way cheaper

This is a promising time on the internet. As recently as 6 months ago, many of the wishes I have been expressing for years — for easy, affordable services that would let us get to our files and other stuff from any ‘net connection on earth — remained unanswered.

When the second iPhone came out, and Apple promised wireless syncing via the MobileMe service, I hoped that Mac users finally had an alternative to Microsoft’s expensive and complicated Exchange service, with its "push" email, and collaborative address book and calendars.

Email itself has always had drawbacks. It’s inefficient for quick dialogue, and it doesn’t let you involve a whole bunch of people in a town hall-like forum. But instant messaging, through AIM or iChat or what-have-you, feels invasive and annoying to many people.

Oddly, I think we have given up on easy collaboration and sharing of documents. I used to work for a newspaper, and it amazed me how unwieldy the process of editing an article was: getting a document attached to an email, saving it on a server, printing it out so others could read it, emailing the writer back an attachment… That was seven years ago, and most production environments are still doing things that way.

Well, I hate to be maudlin and melodramatic about this, but I’ve gotten my answer, and it is Google Apps.

With Google Apps, the members of my organization can see each other’s calendars, and schedule each other. The appointments show up immediately on our phones. We can email each other address book cards, or look up client contact information online. We can keep client histories as Google Docs, publish them for the appropriate client’s eyes only, and reference them on our phones when the need arises. We can publish spreadsheets so people can calculate, for example, the cost of setting up a small network in their home or office. And those forms I mentioned earlier? Incredibly easy to create in Google Docs, and when someone submits their reply, it automatically sends their answers to a spreadsheet that holds everyone else’s responses as well!

We can even video chat with each other, in a plain ol’ flippin’ web browser!

Google’s new service is either totally free — that’s the flavor we have chosen — or if you need the beefier version of it, with 24/7 tech support and greater storage per user, it costs an extremely reasonable $50/year. Their cost comparison with Microsoft Exchange is enlightening.

In addition, we are taking advantage of a more new-fangled service called Yammer, which enables the three of us to message each other in a running narrative that we can all see. Yammer is based on the idea of Twitter; both are geared toward short messages, and rely heavily on text messaging for posting and receiving updates. This is, for me, an important substitute for email, which is too cumbersome for quick updates while on the go. Yammer’s cost? You know it: $0.

I almost hesitate to mention the phone-number service I am using, because it’s now no longer accepting new sign-ups. I hope that Google re-opens GrandCentral to the public soon.

The new website itself is powered by WordPress, possibly the most accessible and versatile blogging and web publishing system available today. One can publish a WordPress blog for free, or as in our case, it’s a plug-in included with my $4/month GoDaddy web hosting package that I’ve had since the beginning. It took a few days to massage the design into a form I mostly liked, and I took a few months to sit on it, tweak it, and work out the kinks — and I finally feel like it’s a functional extension of this business.

I cannot overstate my gratitude to the guys at Swirl for helping me put a new face on our business — Carlos Zapata gave us a hip new logo, and Jason Risner’s photography makes us look way better than we deserve.

I have posted more information on these services and the way we use them on the blog, here and here. Again, this whole on-the-go, location-agnostic way of working was not possible two or three years ago, certainly not with the minimal effort and expenditure we have spent.


A little learning, a lot of savings

This last year has taught me so much about how to use these new services to communicate with my team, manage my tasks and priorities, stay in touch with my personal and professional relations, and save money in the process.

I know that so many of our clients are paying more than they need to for email and web site solutions that don’t even give them what they need. And I know that many people feel that they aren’t using the technlogy that they’ve invested in to its full advantage.

Let J2 help you, your business, and your household get more for less. Please call us at 210.787.2709 to schedule a consultation.


With gratitude and respect,


Email not receiving

My Inbox in Apple Mail has a triangle icon with an exclamation point in it, and isn’t receiving emails. I’m having to use my “All Mail” folder below. How do I fix this?

I get this question from time to time. It happens for different reasons, often when either your internet or your email service is interrupted — which has afflicted Gmail recently. Usually the easy fix is, in Apple Mail, clicking on Mailbox > Take All Accounts Online. I’m actually a little surprised that “All Mail” worked; kudos on finding that!

The triangle went away all on its own!! 🙂

It does that. Now, what would be great is if they made a big freakin’ sign that said, “If you see a freakin’ triangle over here, this is what you should do…”


What email service should I use?

I have an earthlink.net email address, which comes with webmail and 10MB storage. But I’m thinking about changing my internet service provider? And sometimes I run out of storage at earthlink. I just don’t know if it’s worth it to me to convert to a new email address.

May I suggest Google Apps to host your email? It’s free, has a frigton of storage (7.5GB), and has all the bounteous benefit of the Gmail interface, or you can access it from Apple Mail or your email client of choice. There are few comparable alternatives out right now, and none of those are free.

This is important: You can KEEP your current email addresses. In the case of your earthlink.net address, we just start forwarding it to Gmail — either a general @gmail.com address or to your @yourdomain.com. Your correspondents may never have to know that you changed addresses. And for you@ (or whatevertheheckyouwant@) yourdomain.com, Google simply becomes your email host.

You can pay Earthlink a few bucks month to keep the address, but that’s a sucky long-term idea.

Also, the Gmail interface is importantly fantastic. I sometimes switch over to it just to get certain things like automatic organization accomplished. And lemme tell ya, the spam filtering is outta sight. I don’t see spam anymore. One message a month or less, and I can always look in the spam folder in Apple Mail just to double-check I haven’t missed a real message.

One last thing: There was once the perception that a @yahoo.com (or the like) implies an inconstant personality. I can say definitively that, especially since Gmail, that is no longer the case. The service is recognized net-wide as legitimate and unique. I practically insist on my clients using Gmail, unless they are already on Yahoo. If they have any address other than Yahoo, including using their own domain, 7 out of 10 times we get them over to Gmail quick as we can, and they never look back.

Logos in emails

When I see that someone has a graphic in their email signature, I try
to encourage them to ditch it. It always implies that each of their
email messages has an attachment, and sometimes I search for or sort
by messages with attachments.

It's not what email is best at, and nobody in the world will think
your organization less professional if you don't have your logo in
your signature. And there are ways of formatting your signature so it
will look good.

Finally ported to Google Apps

My j2mac.com email, calendar, and docs are now all managed by Google Apps. I’m pretty impressed. Setup is easy. They even gave specific instructions for GoDaddy’s domain manager. And things like syncing calendar (with Calgoo) and address book (with Apple’s iPhone-Google sync) make business so much easier. I’ve also signed a couple of other folks up on it, too.

So if anyone has been using my j2worldofmac-at-gmail address, please delete it and stick with info-at-j2mac.com. It’s official!

Keep your surfing secure

This is a tiny but important tip: When you go to Gmail or Yahoo! Mail or any other personal web-based service, you can make your connection less hackable by changing the “http://&#8221; to “https://“. The “s” stands for “secure,” and it means that traffic — the 0s and 1s — between your browser and the online service will be encrypted.

“Using an https: URL indicates that HTTP is to be used, but with a different default TCP port (443) and an additional encryption/authentication layer between the HTTP and TCP. This system was designed by Netscape Communications Corporation to provide authenticationand encrypted communication and is widely used on theWorld Wide Web for security-sensitive communication such as payment transactions and corporate logons.”
Getting in this habit is especially important for laptop and mobile users. It’s easy to store the https:// in your bookmark. When you use a secure link, you’ll see a little lock icon in one corner of your browser window.

Creating a web gallery for artwork

What is the best place for me to do a website for my artwork?

As usual, there’s free…

Post images to a photo site like Flickr.

There are multiple benefits to this approach: easy slideshows, easy “tagging” (e.g. ceramics, painting, installation)

… or cheap…

Apple has the .Mac service for $99/year. You can look at all the features — it’s pretty useful, especially when you get a laptop, but just for example, here’s one of my web galleries, and one in a different style.

One posts all the images straight out of iPhoto.

You can also point your domain name (e.g. alextheartist.com) to .Mac, so people won’t see that the real URL is gallery.mac.com/alextheartist.

Also, you can design your own site with a program like RapidWeaver. Hosting a web site can be as cheap as $4/month. I have yet to find a reason to go somewhere besides GoDaddy.

…and not cheap: hire a web designer …

This is doable, but for many folks, let’s just say a cost/benefit analysis would not favor this approach.

I know that, many times, a gallery who represents you will post the work that you have given them. Finesilver had some nice-looking pages.

Finally, I would suggest googling a bunch of artists you dig, see whose web sites you like, and asking them how they did it. FWIW, I just looked up Lloyd Walsh off the top of my head, and he used .Mac for at least a few images.

UPDATE 2013-04-03: Apple’s services .Mac, later MobileMe, don’t exist any longer, and their successor iCloud doesn’t offer web galleries. I recommend SquareSpace for all web-publishing needs. WordPress is certainly a viable platform still, but SquareSpace is much more configurable and user-friendly.