After installing Safari 5 (either as a separate download or as part of Mac OS X 10.6.4), Mail messages generated by applications (such as iCal or iChat) may unexpectedly have a black background. As a result, any (black) message text will be unreadable.
Before going any further, let me clarify exactly what sort of messages I am talking about here. The problem occurs with e-mails that are generated by selecting a Send Email (or similar sounding) command from within some application. As one such example, Mac OS X’s Preview has a “Mail Selected PDF Document” command in its File menu. Via this feature, you auto-generate a message in Mail. From Mail, you can further edit the message, such as adding text, before sending it.
When I tried out this Preview command, the resulting Mail message did indeed have the unwelcome black background. Initially, the message’s text consisted only of an attachment link in blue type. The blue text was easily readable despite the black background. However, any additional text that I typed could not be seen.
To make the text readable, you need to eliminate the black background. Apple offers two workarounds for accomplishing this goal:
- Click in the message area of the document and select “Make Plain Text” (Command-Shift-T) from the Format menu. While this tip works, it eliminates any hypertext links contained in the text. If you want to save such links, or otherwise preserve the initial rich text format…
- Cut the entire text (using Command-A followed by Command-X) and press the Delete key. This removes the black background. Next, use Option-Shift-Command-V to paste back the cut text. The text will now be readable, with links preserved.
MailWing archives and organizes e-mail
If overflowing and chaotic e-mail folders are the bane of your existence, there may be help. The just updated MailWing 4 is handy organizer and archiver for Apple Mail, linking your mailboxes and mail folders to matching folders in the Finder.
MailWing, created by developer Luther Fuller, used to be called Mail Saver. The latest version rebrands the app, adds support for Snow Leopard, and fixes a few bugs. Like Mail Saver before it, MailWing creates copies of your messages as documents that live independently from Mail. Saved messages retain attachments, and you can reply to and forward them just as you would a regular message in Mail. Once you’ve copied the old messages, you can delete them from the mailbox itself if you’re running up against size limits. Within Mail’s rules, you can set up an automatic routing for messages to go to the linked folders for safe-keeping.
A different feature called Mail-Safe Archive creates a disk image file with a link to your Mail trash. The archive stores all the deleted messages lurking there, and it’s searchable via Spotlight.
All-in-all, MailWing relieves you of the burden of having to decide when to get rid of outdated messages. You can just keep everything in local folders or in the archive, limited only by the size of your drive.
MailWing requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later. The app is available for a free 30-day trial; during the free trial, the Mail-Safe Archive feature is not available. The activation key runs $10.