This Mountain Lion 101 feature is a quickie -- Apple's Mail app now has a new feature called VIPs that gives you one-click access to emails from those very important people in your life.
Emails from VIPs have a star next to the sender's name, and a mailbox for each VIP is added to the Favorites bar. With a click on the VIPs tag in the toolbar, a popup showing "All VIPs" and the names of individual VIPs is displayed.
You can have up to 100 VIPs identified, but in my opinion, if everybody's a VIP, then nobody's a VIP. I'm using the feature to highlight emails from my boss (Mrs. Sande) and my business partner (Erica Sadun).
To make that special someone in your life a VIP, you just move your pointer to the left of the sender's name in a message header. A star appears, and clicking the star makes the person a VIP. You can also click the person's name in a message, then select "Add to VIPs" from the pop-up menu that appears (below).
If that person becomes persona non grata in your life, removing them from the VIP list is quite simple. Just click the star again, or you can use the "Remove from VIPs" item that will appear in the pop-up menu seen above.
For VIPs that have several email addresses in your Contacts list, messages from any of those email addresses appear in their VIP mailbox. If you're using iCloud Contacts, your VIPs appear on any other Mountain Lion-equipped Mac that is signed into the same iCloud account.
To get a special notification in Notification Center when email arrives from my VIPs, I set up a rule in Mail Preferences:
You could also theoretically add a special sound to the notification with a rule, or kick off an AppleScript to Tweet you. I leave this as an exercise for the reader.
As I mentioned, this isn't an earthshaking addition to Mountain Lion, but it is a surprisingly useful feature that can help you pay more attention to email from special people. If it can help me take notice of one more "honey-do" from my wife and keep me out of the doghouse for at least one day, then the Mail VIP feature is worth the $19.99 Mountain Lion upgrade cost.