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Yours Truly: Signature in Apple Mail

by Rob Friesel

A few months ago in my “pre-packaged [tag]Apple[/tag] apps vs. [tag]Mozilla[/tag] equivalents” round-up, I made mention of how Apple’s [tag]Mail[/tag] (or the dreaded “[tag]Mail.app[/tag]” if you prefer) application had mediocre [tag]signature[/tag] support. My criticism went something like:

Pain in the butt. Can’t reference external files and what’s worse, you can’t edit the HTML source of the sig. So those fancy inline CSS styles you wanted to use are pretty much out. (You can copy/paste them in but chances are you’ll lose half of what you wanted.) -1

This has turned out to be only partially true. Through some of my toying around, I discovered that if I created an external HTML file, opened it in [tag]Safari[/tag], copied from there, then pasted into Mail’s signature edit window I would get a close approximation of what I’d created. It might add an extra line break in the process or otherwise “re-interpret” my code but it seemed a small price to pay.

This led me to the conclusion that Mail was using [tag]WebKit[/tag] to render the HTML in email messages. (No surprises there.) But big deal right? Anyone could have arrived at that conclusion and it still doesn’t change the fact that Mail doesn’t have robust support for your fancy [tag]CSS[/tag]-based signatures.

Until I stumbled across this article about the problem over at AllForces.com. Full details are over there but I’ll break down the short version here:

  1. Make your signature in your favorite text editor (use in-line CSS styles)
  2. Open it in Safari
  3. Save as “[tag]Web Archive[/tag]”
  4. Find your existing crappy signature’s filename (hint: it’s in ~/Library/Mail/Signatures)
  5. Rename that Web Archive from Safari to the one Mail gave to your previous crappy signature
  6. Copy the renamed Web Archive from wherever you saved it to the Signatures folder and be done with it

I still want a [tag]Camino[/tag]-equivalent of Mail.  But for now, I’ll take this.

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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