How to Keep Messages Marked as Unread in Apple Mail [Mac]

Do you hate the way Apple Mail on the Mac automatically marks email messages as read as soon as you click on them? Do you wish there was a way to either delay the mark as read function or totally stop it from happening? If so, you’re not alone!

Not being able to truly preview messages (view without marking as read) has been an annoyance of mine every since I first started using Mail on my Mac. In every other email client I’ve used, there has always been a way to manually mark messages as read.

Personally, I don’t like to mark email messages as read until they’ve been taken care of. This way, I can see how many tasks I need to take care of just by looking at my email count. This is especially important for my business email account.

Apparently Apple just doesn’t understand how important this feature is, because they have yet to add it to the Mail app. Fortunately, there’s a Mail plugin called TruePreview. It’s an easy-to-use plugin that gives you the ability to mark messages as read immediately, never, or after a delay.

So if you’re ready to keep your messages marked as unread in Apple Mail, let’s get started.


The TruePreview plugin can be downloaded for free from the official Web page. You’ll need to download the plugin that matches your version of Mac OS X. The plugin supports Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) all the way up to Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

TruePreview pane in Mail's preference window.

After you unzip and install the plugin, you should notice a new panel (titled TruePreview) in Mail’s preferences window (Mail menu -> Preferences).

Automatically Mark Messages as Read

The first section in TruePreview’s panel is titled, “Automatically Mark Messages as read.” There are three options to choose from: immediately, never or after so many seconds.

This is where you will change Mail’s default action to whatever suits your preference. To keep messages marked as unread until you mark them as read manually, select “Never.”

Immediately Mark Messages as Read When

Even though you may choose to never mark messages as read, you can still have messages marked as read when you perform certain actions in Mail. That’s what this section is for.

With TruePreview, you can choose to mark messages as read when you reply to or forward a message, scroll or click the preview pain and/or view a message in a separate window.

Per-Account Customizations

The final section of the TruePreview panel is per-account customizations. If you have more than one email account setup in Mail, you may not want to have the same options enabled for each one. TruePreview gives you the ability to specify settings independently on a per-account basis.

TruePreview Per-Account Customization Options

To do this, just use the drop-down menus and check-boxes to further customize each email account.

As you may notice, some options are enabled by default and cannot be changed, depending on your selections in the other two sections.


As you can see, TruePreview makes it’s really easy to keep your Mail messages marked as unread until you’re ready to do otherwise. No longer do you have to be frustrated by Mail forcing your messages to be marked as read.

TruePreview is not only easy to setup, but it’s a really quick and painless process. In a matter of minutes, you’ll have “true preview” enabled for you account.

Do you use TruePreview or something similar to stop Mail from marking your messages automatically as read?


Charnita Fance
Charnita Fance

Charnita has been a Freelance Writer & Professional Blogger since 2008. As an early adopter she loves trying out new apps and services. As a Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS user, she has a great love for bleeding edge technology. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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