How to Turn Off Highlighting Apple Messages in Mac OS X Mail

Hand using laptop and mouse
A few clicks or keystrokes can rid you of automatic highlights in OS X Mail. StockUnlimited

You can turn off the rules that come with OS X Mail and highlight emails from Apple.

Miraculous No More, Highlights No More

If you look at your Inbox in Apple's Mac OS X Mail, you may notice some messages—all of them, it seems, from Apple—miraculously highlighted in blue.

The miracle's explanation probably lies in some filters Apple included with Mail and turned on by default. They, as you have guessed, highlight all mail from Apple in blue.

Getting rid of OS X Mail highlighting future messages is as easy as turning off these filtering rules, and you can remove existing highlights as well.

Turn Off Highlighting Apple Messages in Mac OS X Mail

To turn mail filters Apple included with macOS Mail off or delete them so future messages from Apple are no longer highlighted automatically:

  1. Select Mail | Preferences… from the menu in macOS Mail.
    • You can also press Command-, (comma).
  2. Go to the Rules tab.
  3. Look for rules called "News From Apple", "Apple eNews," "iMac Update," "eNews from the Apple Store" and ".Mac Update".
    1. Look for other, similar rules, too.
    2. All the rules (which highlight messages in blue) are highlighted in blue in the rules list.
  4. For each rule you have identified:
    1. Make sure the Active checkbox in its front in the list is not checked.
      • You can also delete these rules, of course:
        1. Highlight any rule you wish to delete.
        2. Click Remove.
        3. Now click Remove again.
  1. Close the Rules preferences window.

Remove Highlighting Added to Existing Messages by Rules

To remove the blue highlighter background from a message in Mac OS X Mail:

  1. Open the folder that contains the highlighted email in OS X Mail.
  2. Now make sure the email is selected in the message list.
    • You can select multiple emails, of course, for example by holding down Command while clicking to add or remove individual emails fro the selection or holding down Shift to select a range.
  1. Select Format | Show Colors from the menu
    • Select Format | Hide Colors followed by Format | Show Colors if you do not see Format | Show Colors in the menu.
  2. Click on white.

If manually removing the background color fails for some reason, you can try setting up a temporary rule:

  1. Open the folder in which you want to remove formatting.
  2. Select Mail | Preferences… from the menu in OS X Mail.
  3. Go to the Rules tab.
  4. Click Add Rule.
  5. To remove all highlight formatting in the folder:
    1. Make sure Every Message is selected under If any|all of the following conditions are met:
  6. To remove the highlighting only from certain messages in the folder:
    1. Set up rule conditions that matches the messages you want to de-highlight.
      • Looking for specific senders often works.
      • You can also move all your target messages to a specific folder or set up a smart folder.
  7. Make sure Set color of message of background is selected under Perform the following actions:.
  8. Select Other… in the color drop-down menu.
  9. Now click white or snow.
  10. Close the Colors window.
  11. Click OK.
  12. Click Apply under Do you want to apply your rules to messages in selected mailboxes?.
  13. Typically, now delete the rule:
    1. Make sure the temporary rule is selected.
    2. Click Remove.
    3. Click Remove again.
  1. Close the Rules preferences window.

(Updated September 2016, tested with OS X Mail 3)