Apple Mail tip: clear the clutter from replies by clicking the "mystery button"

Aug 24, 2015 | 0 comments

This has likely happened to you: you’ve received an email with a lot of attachments (or one very large one). Now, you’re replying to the message.

It’s good Netiquette in this case to NOT include all the attachments in the message back to the sender. Even in our high-speed era, it’s more data for them to download, a bit of a delay for your message to appear in their in-box, and needlessly consumes electrons.

By default, though, the attachments are included along with all the email’s text when you hit “reply”.

But look! Up on the toolbar! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… another cool under-the-radar Apple interface feature. Look for the little button that only appears when you’re replying to a message that has attachments. There it is, fourth from the left!


If you hover over it, the identity of this fairly non-obvious button is revealed: “Exclude attachments from original message”.

And though it may seem like a “destructive” action, i.e. it will strip your attachments right out of there, never to be seen again… that’s not the case. It simply toggles whether they’re included or not. Click it more than once to see this in action.

If you’re looking for its equivalent on the menu, it’s here:

Edit -> Attachments --> Include Original Attachments in Reply

There’s no keyboard equivalent, but you can make your own if you like (a subject for another article).

This is quite handy but, like some other more recent OS X interface elements, it only appears when needed/appropriate, so it’s easy to remain blissfully unaware of its existence. Still, it’s pretty darn handy – and certainly easier than doing the job by hand.

So, save some time and spare some electrons next time you reply, by using this handy little option!


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