An Explanation Of Apple Mac E-Mail Usage

How To Reply To An E-Mail Message

Continuing from the previous, Receive And Open An E-Mail, section. To reply to an e-mail you normally open it, read it and then reply to it. I say normally because instead of opening an e-mail in order to reply to it you can also right-click on an e-mail and select its REPLY menu-item in order to reply to it, but this is a rare thing to do. So sticking with the traditional method of replying to an e-mail, begin by selecting the e-mail you want to reply to by clicking on its heading; located in the middle column (window pane) of the main Mail application window.

Fig 1.0  Select the e-mail you want to reply to by clicking on its heading

With the e-mail heading selected (highlighted in dark blue) the e-mail messages (conversations) between you and your recipient will appear in the 'E-mail Messages' column (window pane) on the right-side of the main Mail application window. Ignore this column for now as I am just making you aware of it. Instead, click on the REPLY button (Fig 1.1 below) to bring up the Reply window (Fig 1.2).

Fig 1.1  Click on the REPLY button to continue

When the Reply window appears (below) all you need to do is type your new, reply, message into its E-MAIL MESSAGE edit box and then click on the SEND button. This is because the TO edit box has already been filled in for you with the recipients name. And it's the same with the SUBJECT edit box. It has already been filled in with the subject (title) from the original e-mail. RE: is prefixed to that original subject to denote that this is a reply message and not the original message. Any attachments the e-mail had will not be included in the reply e-mail. Hence why the photo file I originally attached is now missing.

Fig 1.2  Type your new, reply, message into the E-MAIL MESSAGE edit box of the Reply window

Fig 1.3  Click on the SEND button to send out your reply e-mail message

This automatic process of Mail stripping out the attachments on a reply e-mail is a good thing, especially if those attachments are not meant to be seen by other recipients you may be including in your reply. For example. I am replying to someone who I originally sent the attachment to (Denise Cedar), so it would not matter if she saw it again if I were to reattach that file to this reply e-mail, but if I were to then add more recipients to the TO edit box they might be recipients who, I forgot, should not see the attachment (attached file). Hence the good reason.

The bad side of this automatic stripping process is that if you did want all recipients to see the original attachments you would have to re-attach them, after saving them from the original e-mail onto your computer for example. Fortunately, Mail has a FORWARD function just for this purpose (explained in the next section).

The TO Edit Box

The TO edit box is already filled in for you with the recipient's Display Name. In this example with my friend Denise Cedar's display name. Even though Mail knows the e-mail address behind the display name it protects you by only putting the display name inside the TO edit box.....just in case someone, in an internet cafe for example, is looking over your shoulder. This protection is in place because the USE SMART ADDRESSES setting is switched on, by default, in mail's Viewing Preferences. If you decide to change the reply e-mail, and/or want to add more e-mail addresses, for whatever reason(s) you can do so by manually inserting each e-mail address or by clicking on the ADDRESS button to select and insert each contact (e-mail address).

Fig 1.4  The recipient's e-mail address is protected (not shown) in case nosy people are looking over your shoulder

When you send someone an e-mail, or reply to an e-mail, the recipient's e-mail address is automatically added to mail's Previous Recipients list but NOT to the Contacts (Address Book) application. To add an e-mail address from the Previous Recipients list to the Contacts application you first need to click on mail's WINDOW menu in order to then select its PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS menu-item. Doing so will bring up the Previous Recipients window (Fig 1.6) whereby you then need to select one or more e-mail addresses before clicking on the ADD TO CONTACTS button.

Fig 1.5  Click on the WINDOW menu and then select its PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS menu-item to continue

Fig 1.6  Select one or more e-mail addresses from the Previous Recipients list and then click on ADD TO CONTACTS

In the above example I have blurred out most of the e-mail addresses simply because they are real contacts! I have clicked on the e-mail address though so you can see how easy it is to select an e-mail address and click on the ADD TO CONTACTS button.

With mail using a Previous Recipients list, whose e-mail addresses can be removed by selecting them and clicking on the REMOVE FROM LIST button, there is no real need to 'add to contacts'. I am just making you aware of the Previous Recipients list so that you do not think mail automatically adds recipient e-mail addresses to the Contacts application; it doesn't.

The SUBJECT Edit Box

Subject is another edit box that is already filled in for you, like the TO edit box. In the case of a reply it's always filled in by the prefix Re: and the e-mail's original subject (title). So in this example Re: E-mail and Attachment test.

Fig 1.7  You can change the Subject if you want to

You can change the subject if you wish, to let the sender know you have a new subject to talk about for example, but if you do so it's a good idea to mention the original subject in your e-mail message. So if the reply subject is Re: Merry Christmas (original subject: Merry Christmas) and you change it to New Year Party (with no Re:) you might need to write your e-mail message something like this: Merry Christmas to you as well my friend....blah blah.....I'm having a New Year Party at my house and was wondering if you would like to come over....blah blah.

A good reason for changing the subject is when you need to write to more than one person with the same message. For example. Suppose one sender e-mailed you with the subject Merry Christmas and another sender with the subject Happy Christmas and so on. Instead of replying to each sender's e-mail individually it might be easier to just use one e-mail as the reply e-mail, change its subject into a common subject and then send it to the relevant people by adding their e-mail addresses to the TO edit box. You may need to edit the e-mail message of course. And to get around e-mails that have private details in them you might write your reply e-mail without mentioning those private details, like so: Merry Christmas to all of you. Glad to hear you are all well. I am having a New Year Party, to which you are all invited, so we can have some fun and catch up on everyone's latest happenings - No mention of one sender's e-mail message stating they are going through a rough patch.

You can also do the above said by creating a new e-mail, but the preferred method is to click on the REPLY button instead as it automatically fills in certain details for you (as explained above).

The FROM Edit Box

The FROM drop-down menu requires an e-mail address to use for the reply. The e-mail address used is normally the one belonging to your default e-mail account. So in Fig 1.8 below mail will use from my default e-mail account called ClickWiseCS whereas in Fig 1.9 I have the choice of using or (from my iCloud e-mail account) by clicking on the FROM drop-down menu. In normal circumstances though you would leave the FROM drop-down menu alone, especially if you only have one e-mail account, as the correct e-mail account (i.e. the default e-mail account) will have been chosen for you by Mail.

Fig 1.8  Mail normally uses your default e-mail address for replying to e-mail.....

Fig 1.9  ....but if you have more than one E-Mail Account you can select which to use for the reply.


By default (normal behaviour) the original e-mail message is always included in the reply message, due to the QUOTE THE TEXT OF THE ORIGINAL MESSAGE setting in the Composing Preferences of the Mail application. If you do not want an e-mail's original message to be included in your reply message you will need to switched off (unticked) this setting. Be warned though; This setting applies to all e-mails. Meaning. With this setting switched off (unticked) no reply e-mails will ever include the original message.....until you switch on (tick) this setting again.

Fig 1.10  Untick the QUOTE THE TEXT..... setting if you don't want original messages appearing in reply messages

Switching off (unticking) that setting can save you money if you are on a P.A.Y.G account, as you would not be sending the original message with the reply e-mail. So it would take less time and money to send the reply e-mail. You also avoid those occasions when you add another person to the TO edit box and then realize after sending the reply e-mail that that added person should not of seen the original message, perhaps because there were some private details inside it about them, only meant for you and the sender.

Getting back to the reply e-mail at the beginning of this section, which I sent out in Fig 1.3; Always check that your reply e-mails have been sent out for sure by clicking on the SENT mailbox (folder). In this example I know it was sent, not just because a copy of it has been put inside the SENT mailbox but also because the number of conversations has gone up from 1 to 2. This means I have e-mailed Denise twice; originally and as a reply. The Time Sent time has also changed to reflect the time I sent out the reply e-mail.

Fig 1.11  Always check that your reply e-mails have been sent out for sure by clicking on the SENT mailbox (folder)

The INBOX mailbox (folder) will also reflect the fact that you have made another e-mail message within a certain conversation, in this case my reply e-mail, by listing that other/newer e-mail message at the top of its conversation within the INBOX mailbox. The heading will also reflect how many replies have been made and so on.

Fig 1.12  As your conversation grows, with newer e-mail replies, the INBOX mailbox updates its headings.

Above I was saying how Mail, by default, strips out any attachments when replying to an e-mail that originally had one or more attachments. And this is true. But that doesn't mean you cannot reattach those attachments. Normally you would do a manual reattach, by clicking on the ATTACH button, but Mail makes it even easier than that. For this next example you will need the INCLUDE ATTACHMENTS button enabled/visible on the Reply window (explained in the Customize Mail section).

Below I am replying to an e-mail which I originally sent to Denise with an attachment - A photograph file of myself. However. Now I am replying to that e-mail, and more precisely to the reply e-mail that Denise sent me (so a reply of a reply if you wish), Mail has stripped out of the photo file (attachment); which is to be expected.

Fig 1.13  Mail, by default, has not included the photo file (attachment) I originally sent to Denise

If I now click on the INCLUDE ATTACHMENTS button on the Reply window's toolbar the photo file (attachment) will be put back, included in the reply e-mail I am composing.

Fig 1.14  Mail has put back the original attachment (photograph file called john.jpg)

In the next section I will teach you about Forwarding An E-mail, which is almost similar to replying but it also has its own way of doing things.