Mailbox summary script

I keep my email organized by project, and sometimes I need a list of all the messages in a project’s mailbox. I don’t necessarily need to print all the messages in the mailbox, just a summary of each: date, to, from, and subject. This is basically what I have showing in the top right pane of Apple Mail, but since there doesn’t seem to be a builtin way of printing that pane, I wrote a script to do it.

I decided to make the output of my script an HTML file with a tabular summary of the messages, like this:

(This is a Safari screenshot, but without a toolbar.)

HTML is portable, easy to write, easy to print from a browser, and—on a Mac—easy to convert to PDF. Detailed formatting is somewhat limited, even with CSS, but I didn’t need elaborate styling. Writing HTML means slinging text, so I decided to write the script in Python using Appscript because it’s better at handling text than AppleScript is. Here it is:

 1:  #!/usr/bin/python
 3:  from appscript import *
 4:  import datetime
 6:  # The name of the mailbox of interest. If the mailbox is in a folder,
 7:  # the format is "Folder name/Mailbox name"
 8:  mailboxname = "Active projects/Project X"
10:  # The template for the HTML file is a table with the message date,
11:  # the first recipient, the sender, and the subject of each message.
12:  tmpl = """<html>
13:  <head>
14:    <meta http-equiv="Content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
15:    <title>Email Summary</title>
16:    <style type="text/css">
17:        table {
18:          border-collapse: collapse; 
19:        }
21:        table th {
22:          padding: .5em 1em .25em 1em;
23:          background-color: #ddd;
24:          border: 1px solid black;
25:          border-bottom: 2px solid black;
26:        }
28:        table td {
29:          padding: .25em 1em .25em 1em;
30:          border: 1px solid black;
31:        }
32:    </style>
33:  </head>
34:  <body>
35:    <table>
36:      <tr><th>Date</th><th>To</th><th>From</th><th>Subject</td></tr>
37:  %s
38:    </table>
39:  </body>
40:  </html>
41:  """
43:  # Get the mail box of interest and sort the messages in ascending order by date sent.
44:  box = app('').mailboxes[mailboxname].messages.get()
45:  box.sort( lambda x,y: cmp( x.date_sent.get(), y.date_sent.get() ) )
47:  # Collect the summary information from each message in the box.
48:  summaries = []
49:  for msg in box:
50:      info = []
51:      info.append(msg.date_sent.get().strftime("%Y-%m-%d"))
52:      # Use the recipient's name if possible, otherwise the address.
53:      if msg.to_recipients.get()[0].name.get():
54:          info.append(msg.to_recipients.get()[0].name.get().encode('utf-8'))
55:      else:
56:          info.append(msg.to_recipients.get()[0].address.get().encode('utf-8'))
57:      info.append(msg.sender.get().encode('utf-8'))
58:      info.append(msg.subject.get().encode('utf-8'))
59:      row = "    <tr><td>" + "</td><td>".join(info) + "</td></tr>"
60:      summaries.append(row)
62:  # Print out the resulting HTML file.
63:  print tmpl % "\n".join(summaries)

I call it “email-summary,” and I’ve made it executable and put it in my $PATH so I can run it directly from the command line.

email-summary > project-x-summary.html

The comments in the source tell most of the story, but a little extra explanation may help.

Having a list like this printed out on several pages often gives me a good sense of the development of a project.