In the last blog entry we talked about rules in AppleMail. Those are done after the emails have been downloaded. Synchronising the rules over multiple computers may or may not work.

If you only use iCloud then you can filter your emails directly in iCloud at the source. The rules are similar to the rules in Mail but not identical. They are way simpler for example.

Let’s have a look. Open iCloud and click on the gear icon at the left side of the bar at the bottom of the screen.

Open rules in iCloud

Select Rules and you will see the rules screen:Rule window in iCloud

The top of the window has a toolbar. But the item with the blue text is the selected one. You can’t click it. Both „Add a Rule...“ and the „Done“ button have blue text, too. But these are clickable buttons.

Click on „Add a Rule...“ to add a rule:Add a rule for iCloud

You can’t give your rule a name. There are 2 areas: the conditions and the actions. It’s only possible to have one condition and one action. Therefore, there is no „all/any“ and no plus and minus buttons to add more conditions or actions. That makes the rules way easier but it also restricts them quite a bit.

Open the conditions:Conditions for rule

Again the selection is very much restricted compared to AppleMail. You can also not select an operator but the operator is built into the selection. Select „is from“ and you should see the value from the selected email:Filled in condition

As in AppleMail you can edit the filled in text.

On to the actions. Again the selection of possible actions is much more simple:Actions for rule

But „Move to Folder“ is there. After selecting a folder I closed the window. The rule window now has a filled in rule. It’s possible to see at one glance what the rule does. Which is nice.

Finished rule

Editing the rule, however, is done by mousing over the button with the I. Which stands for anything else but editing.Edit a rule

Should the icon with the hamburger menu do anything? Why is the icon there if it doesn’t do anything?

In AppleMail you can make an extra action that after a rule was applied that no further action should be taken ("Stop evaluating rules"). The action isn't needed for iCloud because the default is that after a rule was applied no further rules will be done for the message.

Verdict

If you only use one iCloud account for all your devices then editing the rules directly on iCloud is a wonderful idea.

AppleMail is for all types of exotic workflows. I get feature requests from my users to know that users have some very strange habits. To support those the rules in AppleMail support all types of conditions and actions.

The available rules in iCloud follow the 80/20 principle. The users with the 20% part are out of luck. But the rules are easy to set up.

The implementation in iCloud has the usual really bad interface elements that plague Apple. This might seem to be a small thing. But I expect elements that look clickable to actually look different to things that aren’t clickable.