I want to archive all of my Ask Leo! email newsletters. I use Thunderbird,
which has an Archive button but that places them in a mail folder called
“archive.” Is there a better way to deal with useful newsletters?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #70, I look at ways to organize an email system to store regular
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There are a couple of different approaches to this particular issue.
For the record, I hope you realize that all of the Ask Leo! newsletters from
the very first one (all 400 and some now) are archived already for you up on
the web. Every issue is on the Ask Leo! website. You’re certainly welcome to
keep a copy for your own use. But realize that if you miss one, or if you don’t
want to go through that hassle, I’ve got them all for you already. They’re up
on the web.
Create an email folder
Now, having said that, what I do in a case like Thunderbird is rather than using
the Archive button, I would actually create a folder. So I would create a
folder underneath my inbox or at the same level of my inbox, called “Ask Leo!
newsletters.” Then whenever I’m done reading that newsletter, I would simply
drag and drop the message from my inbox into that folder.
That way, you’ve got all of your email messages from that one newsletter in a
single place, one folder. Conveniently, that also happens to be one file in the
Thunderbird message store. But, from your perspective, it’s a very easy way to
have all of that stuff in one place where you can reference it quickly.
Create email rules
Now, if you want to take the extra step, what you can do is set up a filter
in Thunderbird (or a message rule) that automatically moves it into that folder
In other words, the rule would be something like: when the message
If it starts with (whatever my newsletter starts with) “Ask Leo!
#” (I think)
Or if it’s from “email@example.com“
Or any combination thereof… basically enough information to uniquely
identify that particular piece of email
Then automatically have Thunderbird move it into this folder that you’ve
created for it.
Messages are always in the new folder
What’s neat about that particular approach is that all the messages would be
there. They would never show up in your inbox, but that’s OK – because what the
message rule hasn’t done is hasn’t changed the “read” or “unread”
state of the message.
In other words, if you go into that folder, into which all of these
newsletters are getting placed, you will find that the ones you’ve read are
marked “read,” the ones you haven’t read are not marked “read.” In other words,
they’re still bold and you can choose which ones to read or not.
You can let them accumulate. You can check a few every couple of weeks or
check them as soon as they arrive; it’s all up to you. So, you can automate
that process of sending things into a folder.
Folders for all newsletters
Now the same thing is true for any newsletter.
It’s certainly easy enough to set up another folder for any number of
different kinds of things that you receive on a regular basis [and] then manually
dragging and dropping the message into the folders the way you want them to be
organized or setting up some inbox rules – so that when they arrive
automatically they get shoved into those folders as well. But that’s the
approach I would take.
For the record, this works well in Thunderbird; this works well in Outlook;
this works in most email programs that have message processing rules or
It also applies to systems like Gmail that have labels. In fact, quite
literally what I have in my Gmail account is about, gosh, maybe 20 or 30
different inbox rules that do exactly what I’ve just described – except that
they apply “labels” to the email as it comes in, so that it automatically gets
tagged as one of my newsletters. That way, it automatically shows up in Gmail’s
more or less equivalent of a folder.
But it’s that same idea. So that’s my recommendation: learn how to use
folders – and if you’re feeling motivated, see about setting up the transfer
into the folder automatically.