Apple Mail: move a message via keyboard shortcuts

Matt Gemmell wrote a great blog post on how to move messages in Apple’s Mail application in Lion, MacOSX 10.7, using keyboard shortcuts. For those of us who seem to live in, this saves a whole lot of time and mousing around, which usually ends in some misplaced emails if you’re moving quickly. The application add-on Mail Act-On by InDev Software gives a much fuller implementation of mouseless, customizable rule-activation, but if you just need move message to a few favorite mailboxes, has the capability built in now.

This functionality in Mail for OSX Lion is built around “Favorite” mailboxes. To see a visual list of your current “Favorite” mailboxes in Mail, select a message and then go to the Mailboxes menu and browse in the menu items Go to Favorite Mailbox and Move to Favorite Mailbox. By each entry you will see a keyboard shortcut, starting with “⌘1” (in the Go to Favorite Mailbox submenu), which will by default be your Inbox. You can rearrange these by moving, dragging, and dropping mailboxes to your Favorites bar, just below your Toolbar, just above your messages. If you don’t see your Favorites bar, go to the View menu and click on Show Favorites Bar, the second to last menu item. (If the menu item says “Hide Favorites Bar, then the Favorites Bar is already shown, look just above the message list window to find it.)  Once you have arranged your Favorites mailboxes in the order you would like them, you can: 

Move a message to a Favorite mailbox in three easy steps:


  1. highlight the message (either by clicking on it or using the arrow keys to navigate to it)
  2. hold down the control (⌃) and command (⌘) keys
  3. press the number associated with the Favorite mailbox you want to move the message to


You can find the number associated with each of your Favorite mailboxes by looking in the Mailbox menu > Move to Favorite Mailbox submenu. The keyboard shortcut will be listed by every mailbox. Once you arrange your mailboxes in order of priority (by dragging them on the Favorites bar left or right or off of it or onto it from your Mailbox list), you will quickly get used to the shortcut to move a message to a frequently-used mailbox.

Happy mailing!