How to Create a New Email Compose Shortcut for the Mac Dock

Jun 11, 2019 - 5 Comments

How to create a custom New Email Message compose shortcut for the Dock on Mac

Heavy email users may find it useful to have a handy Dock shortcut for creating new email messages on the Mac. In this tutorial, we’ll walk through setting up a simple Automator application that will compose a new email message with a set template whenever the app is clicked in the Mac Dock, from anywhere the Dock can be accessed.

This new email compose shortcut will be demonstrated with the default Mail app in Mac OS, but Microsoft Outlook can be used as well for the new email message compose shortcut, and many other email applications on the Mac can do this too as long as they support Automator actions.

How to Create a New Email Message Shortcut for the Dock with Automator in Mac OS

  1. Launch Automator in Mac OS, it’s found within the /Applications/ folder
  2. Pull down the “File” menu and choose “New” and then select “Application” as the type of Automator service you will create
  3. Create new Automator application

  4. From the left-side Actions menu, search for “New Mail Message” (or you can navigate to Actions > Library > Mail (or Outlook) > New Mail Message)
    • For Mail for Mac: select the “New Mail Message” action
    • For Microsoft Outlook for Mac: select the “Create New Outlook Mail Message” action

    Find the New Mail Message automator action and drag that to the right panel

  5. Drag the selected “New Mail Message” action over to the right-side panel of Automator, the result should look like the image above
  6. Optionally, fill in the details for the New Mail Message action, since this is aiming to be a template you’ll probably want to leave the “To” and “CC” sections empty, but you may want to adjust ‘Account’ to set the email account this action will use, and possibly a subject and generic Message body too
  7. Fill out the template email for Automator

  8. When satisfied, it’s time to test run the Automator action, so click the “Run” button in the upper right corner
  9. Test run the Automator application to make sure it works

  10. If the Automator action was successful as it should be, a new email message compose window should pop-up on the screen (you can close this when finished)
  11. Success, new email compose message created by Automator

  12. Now save the Automator action by going to the “File” menu and choosing “Save”, then give the Automator action an obvious name like “New Email Compose” and make sure the ‘File Format’ is set to Application, then choose to Save this file somewhere easy to find like the Documents folder
  13. Save the Automator new email compose shortcut as Application

  14. Quit out of Automator when finished
  15. Now simply go to the Documents folder (or where ever you saved the New Mail Automator shortcut), locate your “New Email Compose” and you can drag it into the Dock right now if you want, or optionally follow the steps below to customize the shortcut icon too
  16. Drag the Automator shortcut to the Dock for easy new email compose access

    • OPTIONAL, Changing the shortcuts icon: Let’s change the icon of the “New Email Compose” so it stands out in the Dock better *
    • Copy the icon image below by right-clicking on it and choosing “Copy”, it is a transparent PNG file
    • Custom New Mail Compose icon for Automator action built from Emoji and a system icon in MacOS

    • Now go back to the Finder and select the “New Email Compose” item and then hit Command+i to open Get Info (or go to the “File” menu and choose “Get Info”)
    • Click on the files Icon in the corner and then hit Command+V to Paste the copied icon, then close the “Get Info” window
    • Paste the copied icon into Get Info window to change the icon

    • Now drag the “New Email Compose” into the Mac Dock where it will reside for easy access, and it looks spiffier with that custom icon too
    • How to create a custom New Email Message compose shortcut for the Dock on Mac

  17. Click the “New Email Compose” app in the Mac Dock from anywhere to instantly create a new email at any time

That’s it! Now you’ve got an easy to access shortcut right in the Dock that anytime it’s clicked, it will launch a new email message composition window in the Mail application you chose. We covered using Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook here, but theoretically you should be able to use any other email client on the Mac as well as long as it supports Automator actions and is found within the Automator app.

* You can give your New Email Compose Shortcut application any custom icon you want by using the “Get Info” on file method to changing an icon in Mac OS. You can use the little custom icon I threw together in Preview with Emoji and another system icon, or you can use any other icon you want. The Mac has a collection of high resolution Mac system icons tucked into a System Resources folder if you want some other icon options.

Thanks to Michael W. for the tip idea!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Daniel says:

    If you are using Mail, just right-click the icon and compose new message.

  2. Michael Wiley says:

    pardon my lack of knowledge but I use Outlook on my Mac and still am not sure how to use that script and use it for this purpose. any help?

  3. Edwin says:

    I think Microsoft Outlook works with Automator in earlier versions but stopped supporting Automator after Office 2016. Disappointing, but AppleScript can accomplish the same thing to automate the creation of a new email message through the Dock or elsewhere.

    Open Script Editor (it’s in Applications > Utilities folder) and create a script like this, here’s one for a “new email compose” in Outlook for Mac:

    tell application "Microsoft Outlook"

    set newMessage to make new outgoing message with properties {subject:"Hello"}

    end tell

    Then you can either run the AppleScript directly by saving it, putting that into the Dock (with your custom icon!) or plug that into your Automator script if you want but that wouldn’t be necessary.

    And for thoroughness, here’s the “New email compose” AppleScript with Mail for Mac:

    tell application "Mail"

    set newMessage to make new outgoing message with properties {subject:"Hello"}

    end tell

    Try those if you wish!

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for this! Your AppleScript approach may be even easier for some users since it’s just a matter of copy and paste, and in my testing it works perfectly.

    • Michael Wiley says:

      Hi Edwin,

      Thanks for the follow up. Unfortunately I’m not versed w/ Apple script. I did what you said but not to the point that I could save it. It would let me know the document could not be saved as the file doesn’t exist.

      Any help for a true beginner in this realm?

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