brown paper envelope on table

No obvious shortcuts for Superhuman Mail

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OK, I’m actually a little shocked I am using this mailer for the last two years, but it has been an incredible productivity tool. The main limitation is that it is Google Mail only as a backend and that it does not have a unified inbox, so your contacts for each account are separate and you can’t see all your mail in one place. I have no less than 10 accounts I monitor including two non-profit mails, so it is a chore to really see everything.

That being said (shortcuts for v7 on the Mac), the main advantage is definitely the keystroke fast reading of mail on keyboards. That and being keystroke fast for most things, even their search works really well. However, like all keyboard shortcut oriented tools, you need to really get into the thing and understand how it works. While you can use Command-⌘-K to get all the shortcuts, here are the non-obvious ones that it’s take me a while to find:

  • n and p. While j and k take you from message thread to message thread (aka conversation) like vi does, it is next and previous that take you to different messages in a the chain.
  • o. these open messages so when you navigate up to mail, you see this and then hit ‘o’ again to close.
  • Shift-o. A capital O expands or collapses all the messages in a thread, they call it a conversation.
  • Also kind of unintuitively, the latest message is *not* always the one shown, it is actually sticky, so if you for some reason “n” your way down to the bottom, then you think you are reading the latest, but it is not, so look at the heards and make sure you go to the top. As an aside, there is no go all the way to the top or bottom like g and G in vi.

Popouts and Switching to Window/Search

Then for replying, if you hit ‘r’ this replies, but you can’t see the original text, but Shift-r does what they call a popout, so the messages is still in view and the reply is in the lower right.

The same is true with compose where ‘c’ composes in a single window but Shift-c does a popout.

This popout mode has a useful if a little strange feature in that you can leave the pop-out and then a Command-D (⌘-D on the Mac) will switch you between the main window so you can scroll through email and Option-/ will get you directly into search. This let’s you start a draft and then browse around and then Command-D back to keep typing. Very handy

Selecting conversations

One of the problems with the system is that if you import from a new Gmail account you can have lots of conversations you want to get rid of. You can now hammer away at these with at the main window which is a list of message threads (conversations)

  1. Command-A. Select all conversation from the current cursor to the bottom
  2. Shift-Command-A. Selects all conversation from the current conversation all the way to the bottom
  3. X. Select the current conversation
  4. Shift J and Shift K. Add to the selection from the previous conversation (next conversation)

The whole point of this is that when you have selected them you can for instance choose

  • E. This marks and edned (that is marked as done)
  • Shift E. Mark as not done, so stays highlighted

The features I don’t use

There is an extensive labeling system and there are splits where you can divide email into sections. I tried both, but ultimately, it was just faster to process mail as fast as possible and given it is not a universal inbox there are way too many places to look for mail anyway.

Long term, given I might move back to iCloud Mail for personal mail, I can see using Superhuman for a long time for company mail but being forced back to Apple Mail for personal mail. That is not super bad as Apple Mail does have the concept of VIPs which is useful and also it is a universal inbox 😉

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