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3. Managing my mail

I use Gnus, one of the many mail/news clients available for Emacs. The following features help me manage the volume of mail I get each day.

Mail splitting

Yes, yes, the Gmail way is to keep everything in one folder and then use searches to filter your messages. Still, I like being able to glance at my screen and see 2 personal messages and 3 planner-related messages.

Topics and group hiding

I use Gnus topics to divide my mail into folders and subfolders. Mail groups are hidden unless they have mail. Some groups like mail.misc and mail.planner are generally useful, so I keep them visible even if they don't have unread mail.


Gnus allows you to automatically score threads and messages up and down based on various criteria. You can set it to completely hide boring messages, show them in a different color, show interesting messages in a different color, etc.

On most mailing lists and newsgroups, I don't bother reading message bodies. I just scan through subjects, hitting k to kill entire threads I don't find interesting. Gnus remembers what threads I've killed, marks them as read, and scores them down automatically. It also scores up messages containing certain keywords, replies to my posts, and threads I found interesting.

Integration with my contacts

I put interesting people in my BBDB contact database. Gnus indicates messages from them with a little + beside their name in the message summary. If someone I know is interested in a thread, I might find it interesting as well.

Hiding and article washing

I've set Gnus up to hide quoted text. This makes browsing through threads much easier because I can concentrate only on the the new parts. I can hit a few keys to expose sections of the quoted text if the replies aren't immediately obvious from the context.

I can also set it up to remove ads at the bottom of messages, particularly long signatures, To: lines with more than N recipients, that sort of thing. I can tell it to strip out HTML, too.

Displaying parent article

Sometimes I'll jump into the middle of a thread. I can use ^ to get to the parent message.


I use swish++ to index and search through my personal and planner-related mail.

Planner hyperlinks

Most of my tasks come in through e-mail. Planner lets me keep track of my TODOs easily by automatically hyperlinking to the mail message I'm looking at when I create a task. Dealing with a few items on my TODO list is much easier than going through a large inbox! =)

2. Nifty Japanese stuff: Kakasi

Kakasi is an external utility for converting Japanese text between coding systems. It can also add furigana after kanji or convert a text file to romaji.

Debian users can apt-get install kakasi kakasi-dic. There's an Emacs interface, a Perl module (Text::Kakasi), and a Ruby library.

1. highlight-tail-mode

I just ran across highlight-tail.el from gnu.emacs.sources. It leaves a colored trail behind your inserts, fading over time. Completely useless (although it does give you a visual sign of how much you've been typing) but altogether cute. Why we have stuff like this, I don't know--but it's cool anyway!

Chat on

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Updated: 2005-02-16
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