How to Make Stationery for Mac Mail

by Joshua Mcgee

When Apple launched Mac OS X, Leopard, Mail included a feature called Stationery. Stationery is HTML-designed email templates that let you dress up the visual appearance of your email. For example, you can send emails with background pictures, emails shaped like announcements, and even emails with picture frames. The Mail app includes a handful of standard stationery forms for you to choose from. It also provides an easy way to create simple, custom stationery if all you want to do is add a few pictures and adjust the format of the text. You can also create your own HTML designs for stationery, but it requires more manipulation within the library folder.

Create Stationery within Mail

Open Mail and click "New Message."

Type the desired text in the body of the message. Click on "Fonts" and select the type of font, size, style, and color.

Locate the desired pictures in Finder and drag them into the message. Place them as you like.

Select "Save as stationery" from the File menu. The new stationery will appear in the the "Custom" stationery category.

Create Stationery in the Library

Open "Finder" and navigate to the stationery "Resources" folder. By default this is located in "Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Apple/Mail/Stationery/ Apple/Contents/Resources. Make sure you are in the hard drive library folder and not the user's library folder.

Open a stationery category and navigate to its "Resources" folder under "Stationery Category/Contents/Resources." Select a stationery to modify. Hold down "Option" and drag a copy to the desktop.

Right click on the copied file and select "Show Package Contents." Open the "Resources" folder under "Contents/Resources." Review the image files in this folder. The following are the images within the "Sand Dollar" stationery, for example: "bg_letter.jpg" is the background for the content of the email. "bg_patter.jpg" is placed behind the letter. "bottom.jpg" and "top.jpg" are the bottom and top of the design. "thumbnail.png" is the thumbnail that appears in Mail.

Create the design in a graphic program such as Photoshop. Split the design into the different jpg sections located in the Resources folder, and save the image files over the image files in the stationery package. Resize the image to about an inch high and save it as "thumbnail.png."

Open Content.html in Text Editor or a Web editor. Change the title to the new name of the stationery. Save and Close the file.

Open Description.plist in Text Editor. Locate the string that contains the name of the former stationery with an extension .mailstationery. Change the string to the new stationery name with .mailstationery as the extension. Save and close the file.

Change the name of the stationery package to the new design name. Then, drag the package back to the stationery resources folder.

Use the New Stationery

Open Mail and click "New Message."

Click "Show stationery." The new stationery will appear in the custom stationery category or the stationery folder that you edited.

Select the category that contains the new stationery.

Click on the new stationery.


About the Author

Josh McGee graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor's degree in English, professional and technical communication, and a minor in marketing. He has worked as a technical writer and illustrator for two large manufacturing companies, ICON Health and Fitness and Cover-Pools Incorporated. He is currently employed full-time for the latter.

Photo Credits

  • stationary paper image by robert mobley from