Removing messages with large attachments in Gmail and Mail.app

I am an obsessive email archiver, which is why I get so upset when people send multi-megabyte attachments over email (I much prefer it when people use services like [YouSendIt](http://yousendit.com) or [DropBox](https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTY3ODc2OQ)). There are a few reasons large attachments have made things painful recently:

1. More and more people are sending >10MB attachments 2. The size of my local email archive is getting to be quite large 3. I reached my ~7GB storage limit on Gmail

I periodically mitigate the problem of a large local archive on my Mac by selecting offending messages (sorted by size) and using the menu option **Message->Remove Attachments** in Mail.app. I've mapped a keyboard shortcut to this menu option because I use it so frequently.


before and after removing attachments

On a Windows machine running Outlook, you can edit a message, delete the attachment, and then save the message. It takes more steps, but it's possible.

The Gmail issue is harder to deal with. Gmail doesn't have a sort by size option, so you have to use IMAP to suck down your mail before you can sort by size -- not a good option with a 7GB archive. Also, you can't edit emails in Gmail to remove attachments; you have to either delete the message or archive it. I solved this problem by paying $5/year for 20 extra gigabytes of Gmail storage. Cheap!

I've recently been toying with the idea of using Gmail as my primary mail server (previously, it has only been acting as a secondary mail archive / aggregator, which has the added benefit of allowing me to search my mail from a mobile device). I wondered, however, what would happen if I were to remove an attachment from a message in IMAP and then save the message...? Would Gmail allow message editing?

The answer is no. The message gets duplicated in Gmail.

I suppose I could then go in and delete the large message(s) from Gmail's archives, but that seems like it's too much work. In 2 years, I'll pay another $5 for 100GB of storage (or whatever). :)

Fresh for Mac OS X

One of my favorite Mac OS X utilities is [Fresh, by Ironic Software](http://www.ironicsoftware.com/fresh/). It's a $9 program that tracks all of the most recently touched files on your Mac and allows them to be accessed via a keyboard shortcut. It also features a "Cooler" area where you can drag frequently-accessed files and folders. I put files and project folders I'm currently working on in the Cooler and remove them when projects end.

Recently, Fresh would occasionally start using a lot of CPU, requiring me to quit and restart the app to fix the problem. I wrote to Ironic support and received an immediate reply from Tom with a link to a patched dev version. 2 weeks later (today), Tom followed up with an official link to the new version. Kudos to Ironic for their excellent support!

If you're into maximizing productivity on your Mac, I highly recommend [Fresh]. It's free to try.

Why Read It Later improves web reading productivity

I read a lot, and much of what I read lives on the web. However, I rarely actually *read* documents on the web, preferring to read them offline during time away from the computer (e.g. when I'm waiting in line for something). [Instapaper](http://www.instapaper.com/) and [Read It Later](http://readitlaterlist.com/) are two services that reduce the queuing of articles for offline reading to single click actions. I happen to use Read It Later because of flexibility in apps (Instapaper focuses on iPhone), but they are both fantastic. Both offer free versions of their iPhone apps[^1] and paid $4.99 Pro versions that support things like HTML caching (as opposed to text-only reading). I find the pro versions to be worth every penny of their cost.

[^1]: Free iPhone apps: [Instapaper](http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=XZpO96fuxfc&subid=&offerid=146261.1&type=10&tmpid=5573&RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.com%2Ffs-bin%2Fclick%3Fid%3DXZpO96fuxfc%2526subid%3D%2526offerid%3D146261.1%2526type%3D10%2526tmpid%3D3909%2526RD_PARM1%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fitunes.apple.com%252Fus%252Fapp%252Fread-it-later-pro%252Fid309601447%253Fmt%253D8), [Read It Later](http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=XZpO96fuxfc&subid=&offerid=146261.1&type=10&tmpid=3909&RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fus%2Fapp%2Fread-it-later-free%2Fid309597402%3Fmt%3D8) Pro, paid iPhone apps: [Instapaper](http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=XZpO96fuxfc&subid=&offerid=146261.1&type=10&tmpid=3909&RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fus%2Fapp%2Finstapaper-pro%2Fid288545208%3Fmt%3D8), [Read It Later](http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=XZpO96fuxfc&subid=&offerid=146261.1&type=10&tmpid=3909&RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fus%2Fapp%2Fread-it-later-pro%2Fid309601447%3Fmt%3D8)

Here's a 1-minute demonstration of me pulling an entry from my journal into Read It Later:

I've not found a good way to use Read It Later on my Kindle (Instapaper is supposed to have decent Kindle support), but this isn't such a big issue because I find the iPod Touch to be more than suitable for reading articles offline. Also, the device is always with me. Instapaper also supports list sharing, which is something that might convince me to switch over, but I suspect that in practice, I'd rather just read the things that my friends tweet about because the act of explicit sharing doubles as a filter for good content.

Other apps I use also support Read It Later, including Firefox (via add-on), Google Reader and NewsRack (iPhone), Tweetie 2 (iPhone), and mobile Safari. This covers most of the applications I use to read online content, so anything I read can instantly be flagged for offline reading on another device.

If you are a consumer of web articles, you absolutely need to get on one of these services. They're both free, so there's no excuse not to do so!