Not all contacts are equally important, which is why people group and sort the important ones so that they’re easier to manage. The contacts you don’t email often, or who send you unimportant emails too often, rarely get sorted into anything more than an unnamed group. If you’re using Mountain Lion and have synced your Twitter and Facebook contacts with the Contacts app, it is likely you’ve got an even larger number of ungrouped contacts. Now imagine those contacts, grouped and ungrouped ones, all emailing you. You have a single mailbox, or perhaps two or three set up, but one or all include emails from the not-so-important contacts and you’d like to sort them so that they have a mailbox of their own (which you can ignore). You can manage them in one of two ways; invest some time and group them properly, or have Smart groups in Contacts and Smart Mailboxes in Mail to do all the heavy lifting.
Let’s assume you’ve sorted contacts into three groups: Work, Family, and Friends. There are still a number of un-grouped contacts that appear under All Contacts and you aren’t sure how to group them so you’ve left them alone. Now, these contacts have been emailing you, and every time you get an email from them you think it’s from someone important. The unread messages count also has you compulsively checking emails only to find they aren’t important. Here’s how you can separate them.
Start with the ‘Contacts’ app and create a Smart Group. The Group should be created on the condition that if a contact card is not part of a particular group, it should be added to this smart group. Select ‘Card’ as the criteria for identification and ‘is not member of’ as the condition that should be applied to it. The value field will change to a drop-down menu containing all groups that you’ve created in Contacts. Add the rule once for each group. Give the group a creative name like, ‘People who email me too much’.
Next, head over to the Mail app and create a new Smart Mailbox. Set the condition for this group to be ‘Sender is member of Group’ and select the Smart Group you created in contacts in the drop-down. All emails from unsorted contacts will go to this mailbox.
The process seems a bit long, but it is necessary because Mail only allows you to create Smart Mailboxes that include messages from a particular group. It doesn’t let you exclude contacts that aren’t grouped, so you have little choice other than to group those contacts.
Contacts, on the other hand, allows you to create smart groups that exclude contacts based on their grouping criteria, and that’s what we used to our advantage here. If you’re looking for some more creative ways to use Smart Mailboxes, check out this tip we covered for viewing Notification alerts for select accounts in Mail.