Learn the Proper Way to Use Tables and Lists in Mac Mail

Email formatting isn't confined to the Mail application

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Making text bold or changing its alignment and color is a snap in Apple's Mail application in Mac OS X and macOS. Inserting an image is as easy as dragging and dropping it in the desired location when you compose a message, but what about other text formatting essentials such as bulleted lists and tables? In macOS and Mac OS X Mail, you can only change the text formatting, but with the help of TextEdit, which also ships with every Mac, additional tools for a more advanced email formatting arsenal are only a click or two away.

Build Tables in Text Edit for Mac Mail

To use tables and lists in messages created with Mac OS X Mail:

  1. Create a new message in Mac Mail.

  2. Launch TextEdit.

  3. In TextEdit, make sure the current document mode is set to rich text. Select ​Format > Make Rich Text from the menu if you don't see a formatting toolbar at the top of the TextEdit window.

    TextEdit Rich Text setting
  4. To create a list, click the Lists Bullets and Numbering drop-down menu in the formatting toolbar and select the desired list type.

    TextEdit List menu
  5. To create a table, select Format > Table… from the menu bar.

    Create Table menu option
  6. Enter the number of rows and columns you want in the table. Select an alignment and specify the cell border and background color, if any. Type the text into the cells of the table. 

    Entering the rows and columns for a table
  7. Highlight the TextEdit list or table you want to use in your email with the mouse.

  8. Press ​Command + C to copy the table.

  9. Switch to Mail.

  10. In the email, position the cursor where you want to insert the list or table.

  11. Press Command + V to paste the table into the email.

  12. Continue editing your message in Mail.

Formatting Lists in Mac Mail

Making Lists in Mail app

You don't have to use TextEdit to format a list in Mail. To insert a list directly in email using Mac Mail, select Format > Lists from the Mail menu while composing an email, and select either ​Insert Bulleted List or Insert Numbered List on the menu that appears.

Be Aware of Plain Text Recipients

Be aware that Mac OS X Mail creates a text-only alternative for each message to be viewed by recipients who cannot or prefer not to see HTML formatting in emails. For lists and tables, this plain text alternative may be difficult to read.