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dealing with inbox clutter

On Mon, Feb 16, 2004 at 09:42:13AM -0500, Mike Gorse wrote:
> I find that my inbox tends to accumulate messages and become bloated over 
> time, and a lot of the email I get is time-specific (ie, about an event 
> that will happen on a certain date or something that needs to be done by a 
> certain date).  So it would be nice if I could make messages expire by a 
> certain date and have them automatically removed from my inbox after that 
> date has passed.  (I don't mean this in a digital rights management sense 
> but something I could set on a message I've received.)  Do any mail 
> clients have a feature that will do this?  I was thinking about trying to 
> set my computer up so that I could, say, forward a message to 
> expire-20040301 and have it go into a file along with a note saying that 
> it should be deleted on the 1st, and then having a cron script that would 
> look through the file and the inbox and delete things that have expired.  
> Of course, I have no idea how difficult this would be (I know practically 
> nothing about configuring sendmail or anything else, but then it seems 
> like it would be a good time to learn.)  Or can anyone suggest an easier 
> way to do it?

To begin with, do you filter your mail into separate folders? If not,
you should. The easiest approach is to deposit each mailing list that
you are subscribed to in a different folder. That should cut your inbox
by 90% or more immediately. (I also have an archive folder for each list
folder; anytime I think a list is getting too big, I cut it off at some
convenient point in the past and drop the excess into the archive.)

For work mail, I also keep a folder for each project that I'm working

Now, on to mail expiration. In a Maildir or mh based environment, where
each message is a separate file, this is easy: ln each message to
another directory where the filename is the date on which it expires;
once a day run a cron job to delete files where the filename is earlier
than today's date. In an mbox environment, you would have to construct a
much more awkward toolset.


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