How to Add an Email Background Color in Mac OS X Mail

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Mac OS X Mail's rules are smart and colorful: you can set them up to spot important mail and highlight it red. The messages then stay red even if they're past their importance; or do they?

You're even smarter than your rules, of course, and you can color messages as well: you can switch emails colored by filters back to white or quickly highlight urgent mail in, say, red (or green).

Highlight Any Email with a Background Color in Mac OS X Mail

To change a message's background color in Mac OS X Mail's message list:

  • Open a folder or smart folder containing the desired message.
  • Make sure the message whose background color you want to change is selected.
  • Select Format | Show Colors from the menu.
    • If you do not see Show Colors in the Format menu, select Format | Hide Colors instead and then Format | Show Colors.
    • You can also press Command-Shift-C, possibly twice to have the Colors window disappear and reappear.
  • Pick the desired color.
    • Choose white to reset the background color to, well, white and remove highlighting colors, say set by a filter.

Remove Color Highlighting from a Message in Mac OS X Mail

To return a message's background color to white after you have highlighted it manually or a Mac OS X Mail rule applied highlighting no longer needed:

  • Open the folder or smart folder that holds the message or search for it.
  • Make sure the message whose background color you want to reset to white is selected.
  • Select Format | Show Colors from the menu
    • Select Format | Hide Colors instead followed by Format | Show Colors if you do not see Format |¬†Show Colors initially.
  • Click white.
    • Go to the Crayons tab.
    • Click Snow (typically in the lower right corner).