Even taking into account the weird IMAP/Exchange refreshing bug¹ , Apple Mail’s smart folders are a great way to quickly filter your inbox. That said, there’s one option missing that’s always irked me: if the sender is in your Address Book. Believe it or not, it exists as a mail rule option but not in smart folders. Go figure.
So, here’s a quick fix:
Open Address Book and create a new smart group – I called mine “In Address Book”. Then as criteria set it to “Card” ”created after” and select a date in the past that predates your oldest entry, January 1st 1990 worked for me. You can confirm that it worked if the total contacts in both your All Contacts and “In Address Book” group are the same.
Now, the smart group will auto update whenever you add new contacts and always reflect the most current subset.
Then in Mail, create a new Smart Folder, I called mine “In Addressbook”, and as criteria, select “Sender is Member of Group” and choose “In Addressbook” group. Make sure it matches messages that match all of the following conditions.
Now that smart folder will display only the emails from people in your addressbook. Helpful to quickly get a lay of the Inbox land.
I would also suggest adding additional rules to not display Sent mail, spam, or known entities that generate a lot of mail but aren’t that critical.
The bug I have noticed is that my Mail Smart Folders sometimes don’t update properly until I go back and select the actual inbox which triggers a refresh. That’s as well as I can describe it, and why I use my Smart Mailboxes for focusing on groups of email rather than living in them.