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Re-discovering filters in Opera’s M2

25 Lug/09

operaI’ve finally decided recently to dedicate some time to re-thinking the way I’ve used Opera’s M2 e-mail client for some years now. And I’m glad I made that decision because it completely changed the way I interacted with my e-mails, for the better, to be noted. If you are an Operator (Opera user) and never really got the hang of how M2’s e-mail filtering works, you might consider this article a useful spotlight directed at it.

To grow accustomed to the way M2 sorts e-mails, one has to first get rid of prejudice created by most other e-mail clients about how this kind of application is meant to work. Once you get to know it, you either love or hate the way it works. In most clients, we were used to sorting messages into virtual folders where they can be moved and stored for later referenfce. By default, M2 seems to be a bit clumsy at this since it throws all your mails into one “Received” folder and as your mail database grows larger, it becomes a total mess that is seemingly hard to put in any reasonable order. This first impression is probably the main cause of people rather switching to their ol’ reliable Outlook Express or similar external application. However, a good way exists to sort messages in a convenient way, in M2 called filters.

These virtual boundaries are not much different from typical folders as we know them. They too can be used as a storage place for your e-mails with one little difference – filters are by its very substance always affected by rules that you set. These can be affected by pretty much everything that the e-mail container holds, ranging from the sender’s address to the entire message body contents. And besides that, they can be extended by the use of regular expressions. Messages then only appear in the filters they were assigned to. By default, they also still appear in the root “Received” folder but this can be easily changed by enabling the “Mark messages as filtered” option, which basically ensures that they don’t appear anywhere else but the places they are set to, which cleans up the root folder significantly.

Let’s have a simple example. Say you would like to set a filter (folder) for all newsletters. What you do is add a filter and either have it learn what messages it should draw into itself by initially moving the e-mails in it by yourself. Or, you can choose another approach. For example, you create the filter, set it to retract all messages from address news@letter.com and check the “Filter existing messages” option so that all existing mails in the root folder are re-labeled (virtually re-positioned). Assuming you also checked the option to Mark messages as filtered, all items from this address now only appear in this filter, nowhere else. And should a new one arrive from this address within a second, it’ll be automaticly assigned to this filter. Adding new addresses to filters is very easy, all you need to do is right-click the concerned item and select Show in > Filter name > This filter and add a rule. Opera asks you if you’d like to add current sender address and you can also choose to again refilter all existing mails.

My setup using this threaded technology now works like this: All incoming messages that have not a filter assigned appear in the “Unread” folder placed at the very top of the tree. From here, I can either “Read (K)” them, thus moving to the “Received” folder, delete them right away, assign them an existing filter or create a completely new category based on the unique content of that particular item. Other messages falling into one or more categories are automatically moved into their respective categories and I can read them after switching into those particular views.

This is a rather basic setup using little of M2’s strong sorting skills but it’s worked for me so far and can be further extended by applying advanced rules. Along with the quick search capability based on indexing, that is built into M2, this powerful system provides you with good options to label and very quickly locate e-mails you need to refer to at any one time. The final important thing to mention is that these filters with their rules and contents can be exported into the standard *.mbs file for backup purposed.

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