How to Rename the Message Flags in Mac OS X Mail

Personalize the flag names in Mac Mail

Name tags
Getty / Dave and Les Jacobs

The Mail application in the Mac OS X and macOS operating systems comes with flags in seven colors you can use to organize your email. The names of the flags are, not surprisingly, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and Gray.

If you tend to flag a large number of emails for various reasons, you may find the flags are more helpful if you change their names to ones that are more descriptive of their function.

Change the Red name to Urgent for mail that needs attention within a couple of hours, choose another name for personal emails from family members, and yet another for emails you can put off until tomorrow. You can even assign a Done name to email tasks you have completed. This quickly groups emails without you having to move them because each flag color in use—no matter its name—receives its own subfolder in the Flagged folder.

Rename the Message Flags in Mac OS X and macOS Mail

In order to rename a flag in Mail, you must have flagged at least two emails in the color you want to rename, and there must be at least two colored flags in use to generate the subfolders. If there aren't, fake it by temporarily assigning flags. You can always clear them later. To give a new name to one of the colored flags in the Mail application:

  1. Open the Mail application.
  2. If the Mailbox list is closed, open it by selecting View > Show Mailbox List from the menu or by using the keyboard shortcut Command+Shift+M.
  1. Expand the Flagged folder in the Mailbox list if it is closed by clicking the arrow next to it to reveal a subfolder for each color of flag you have used on your emails.
  2. Click one time on the flag that you want to edit. Click once more on the current name of the flag. For example, click one time on the red flag and one time on the word Red in the name field next to it.
  1. Type a new name in the name field.
  2. Press Enter to save the change.
  3. Repeat for each flag for which you want to change the name.

Now, whenever you open the Flagged folder, you see flags with personalized names.

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