Mastering Email Management: How to Customize Message Sorting in Mac Mail

How to effectively sort your emails in Mac Mail. Explore sorting options in both Default and Classic layouts for better email management.

Mastering Email Management: How to Customize Message Sorting in Mac Mail

Sorting your messages effectively in Mac Mail can significantly improve your productivity and email management. Whether you’re dealing with work emails or personal messages, knowing how to sort them can save you time and reduce stress. This article will guide you through the various sorting options available in Mac Mail and how to troubleshoot common issues.

Types of Sorting Layouts in Mac Mail

Mac Mail offers two primary layouts for viewing your emails: the Default layout and the Classic layout. Each layout has its own set of features and sorting options, making it easier for you to find the one that suits your needs.

Default Layout

In the Default layout, emails are grouped by conversation, making it easier to follow email threads.

Classic Layout

The Classic layout offers a more traditional email view, where each email is listed individually.

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How to Change Sorting Layout

Switching between these two layouts is simple. Just go to Mail > Preferences > Viewing and choose your preferred layout. This flexibility allows you to switch layouts depending on your current needs, offering a more personalized email experience.

Sorting Options in Default Layout

In the Default layout, you can sort your emails by various criteria such as attachments, date, flags, sender, size, subject, recipient, and read/unread status. This is particularly useful for quickly finding specific emails or types of emails.

Sorting by Date

This is the most commonly used sorting option. It allows you to view your emails in chronological order, either from newest to oldest or vice versa.

Sorting by Sender

If you’re looking for emails from a specific person, sorting by sender can be incredibly useful.

Sorting Options in Classic Layout

The Classic layout allows you to enable different columns for sorting, such as date, sender, and subject. You can also switch between ascending and descending order, providing more control over how your emails are displayed.

Using the Menu for Sorting

Both layouts offer quick sorting options under the View menu, where you can choose your sorting criteria and the order (ascending or descending). This is a quick and easy way to change your sorting settings without diving into the Preferences menu.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Sometimes, the sorting options may not work as expected. In such cases, restarting the Mail app usually solves the problem. If the issue persists, you may need to check for software updates or consult Apple’s support forums for solutions.

Tips and Tricks

For power users, Mac Mail offers advanced sorting techniques. You can customize sorting options for individual folders, making it easier to manage your emails. Experiment with different combinations to find what works best for you. For example, you can sort work emails by sender and personal emails by date to keep track of your messages more efficiently.


Understanding and utilizing the various sorting options in Mac Mail can make your email management much more efficient. With the right settings, you can save time and focus on what really matters. Don’t hesitate to experiment and find the sorting methods that suit your needs best.


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