The Rumored 12 Inch MacBook Air

I don’t usually cover rumors on Machine Compatible, but I’m excited about one about Apple. 9to5 Mac is reporting that Apple is working on a new 12" MacBook Air.

The new computer would be smaller than the current 11“ with a smaller bezel to accomodate the larger screen. One of my least favorite things about the 11” Air is the bezel. It’s such a huge wasted space and just makes the screen feel even smaller. It’s not as big an issue on the 13" because of the larger screen.

The new 12" will also only have a USB-C[1] port and a headphones jack. That’s an astounding number of ports in a device, but it makes sense. The MacBook Air was always supposed to be ultra-light and ultra-portable. It was built to contain the very barest of computing bones. Apple later found ways to give them great battery life and adequate power but that wasn’t in the original design.

The new Air will be compelling if Apple can combine the battery life and power of the current Air with a Retina display. The new Air will also differentiate the product lines by separating the MacBook Air line frm the Macbook Pro line.

Color me intrigued


  1. USB C is the new standard to replace the current USB plug format. It is smaller and reversible so you don’t have to worry about which way you’re plugging it in.  ↩

Thinking Through Email: Automate and Sort

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series on email. If you take some of these suggestions under consideration you’ll be able to start getting your inbox under control. Remember, it’s not about “inbox zero”. There will always be another email coming in to mar that clean slate. Managing email is about keeping your communications under control rather than scrambling to keep up.

Bearing that in mind, let’s go over a final suggestion before we wrap the series: automation. I mentioned it briefly in the post on limiting what arrives in your inbox. Most email clients and services offer some form of automation. If the one you use doesn’t, find a different service and forward your address to the new one.

If you’re processing lots of email and sorting it manually, you’re missing out on one of the greatest advantages of the medium. Let’s look at some of the ways different services handle sorting.

Tags

Several services offer tags as a way of sorting and organizing. Gmail[1] and Apple Mail are the most common[2]. Tags have several advantages over folders. First, they are not discrete. A message can carry multiple tags(sometimes called labels) at the same time, allowing you to find a specific message with various search terms.

For example, I could add a “2013” tag to every message I sent or received that year, but also add specific tags like “Receipt” or “Personal” to each message. Not only can I search for messages by a specific tag, I can cross-reference them and find all my receipts from 2013.

My problem with tags is the gigabytes of email that I received before tags were invented. I find the “search” functions in my email clients far more useful. If your business’ record-keeping is mission-critical[3] you may consider tagging your incoming email[4].

Folders

I love folders. I’m not ashamed of it. I’ll proclaim it loud from the rooftops. Tags are cool. They’re new and shiny and Apple wants us to use them. But I find the rigid hierarchy of folders comforting.

I think it’s easier to sort into folders. I rarely need to attach a single email to multiple categories, and if I do I can accomplish it through nesting the folders[5].

I like the feeling of knowing “where” something is[6]. All my podcasts are archived into folders. My photos live in folders. Nothing on my computer is tagged.

Even if it’s a giant “Archive” folder[7] that I frequently search, I like to know it’s all there somewhere. Tags just don’t fit the way I work.

What Should You Do?

Different things work for different people. If tags sound interesting to you, give them a try. Add some tags to your email app and let the app auto-apply those to some of your incoming messages.

If the thought of multiple tags stresses you out, sort your email into folders. Put together some rules to auto-sort your incoming messages so you can find what you need quickly.


  1. Gmail calls them “Labels”.  ↩

  2. Both services offer folders as a way of sorting as well. More on that in a moment.  ↩

  3. If you’re a doctor, lawyer, or accountant for example.  ↩

  4. Find an intern to tag your archived email.  ↩

  5. You can get away with this if one category is a subset of another: “Bananas” can’t go in the “Beef” folder, for example  ↩

  6. Look, I know it’s just bits on a magnetic platter. It’s just a metaphor, OK?  ↩

  7. Where most of my email lives  ↩

Thinking Through Email: Limit Your Intake

We’ve been taking an in-depth look at email over the last couple of weeks. We took a look at what it really is[1] and thought through how to mitigate it’s more distracting qualities[2].

Turning off your notifications will help you focus on your other work instead of being pulled away every few minutes to deal with an email. But what about when it’s time to actually process your email? What if working on our inbox is a 3 or 4 hour task?

I have two main suggestions in that case: reduce your intake and take advantage of automation. We’ll deal with intake in this post, but before we do, let me suggest that you find an email application that will do some of the heavy lifting for you.

Apps like Mailbox, Inbox from Gmail, and even Apple Mail and the Gmail web app have features that will automate a lot of the details of processing email. Take a few minutes to explore some of the features of third party email applications and find something that will work for you rather than limit you.

Cut it Out

I find it easier to put off checking my email when I know there’s a lot in there. When I get back from vacation my inbox often sits untended for days before I can talk myself into working on it.
I can justify not dealing with my inbox if it’s going to take me an hour or two to process.

We get a lot of email. We get a lot of email we don’t need. We get a lot of email we don’t need that we don’t have to get. The best solution is limit what comes in on a daily basis. Do you need constant updates on birthdays and anniversaries? Are you still getting social media notifications in your email?

Turn off as much of the automated garbage as you can. It just sits there and it makes your inbox seem more daunting than it really is.

How I handle it

I get a lot of email because I do a lot of things online. Email quantities build up quickly when you sign up for new services or join new communities online. If you signed up for email updates from that cool new blog you found, you’re probably getting three or four new updates a week.

Every few months I take a hard look at the emails I’m getting. Am I reading them all? Is this important to me? Do I care about baking the best pies or was I just buying my mom a cookbook?

As I check my emails across a span of several days [3] I think “Will I read this or am I archiving or deleting without reading?” If I read the email I’ll keep it this time around. Otherwise it gets moved to the Spam folder and I click the “unsubscribe” button.

What Can You Do?

Think about what kind of emails you really want to receive. Which are the ones that make you want to check your inbox and which help you talk yourself out of it?


  1. Emails are really memos, and as such they excel at some tasks and fail at others  ↩

  2. But for real, if you haven’t turned off notifications on your phone and desktop, you need to do that right now. Well, finish reading this, then go do it.  ↩

  3. It takes several days because most email updates don’t come daily.  ↩