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Using the Mail App on Your iPhone or iPad

Using the Mail App on Your iPhone or iPad

Mail is a robust and feature-packed app that allows you to manage all aspects of multiple email accounts, giving you the same basic functionality that you have on your desktop or laptop computer. The Mail app has a familiar Inbox, Draft folder, Sent folder, Spam folder, and Trash folder, each of which is separately accessible for each of your email accounts.

From the Mail app, however, you can also opt to view all of your email account Inboxes simultaneously by selecting the "All Inboxes" display from the Mailboxes screen. While the iPhone will internally keep all of the messages in each account separate, it can display them all on a single scrollable screen for easy access. Or you can view one Inbox at a time.

As you review messages from individuals, the Mail app keeps track of your "conversations" (or threads) in reverse chronological order (with the newest messages displayed first), so from a single screen you can access past correspondence with that person as you read new incoming messages.

The Mail app also allows you to set up and customize multiple email signatures, so you don't have to enter the same text repeatedly for each email you send. As you're typing your email messages, the app's built-in spell checker automatically kicks in and even suggests words as you're typing them. The problem with this feature is that you have to pay attention because this feature will sometimes fix or replace a word with a word you didn't intend. Thus, it's necessary to proofread your outgoing messages before sending them.

When you access your Inbox, you'll see a summary of your email messages, listing the Subject and the Sender, along with the date of receipt and the first few lines of the actual message. Simply tapping on any email message summary will display the entire message. As you're reading email messages, you have access to a handful of command icons displayed at the bottom of the screen (shown in Figure 5) that (from left to right) allow you to refresh your Inbox, save the current message to a folder, delete the email, reply to the email, forward the email, or write a new message from scratch—all by tapping a single icon.

As you'd expect, the Mail app works seamlessly with the iPhone and iPad's Contacts app, so you can retrieve someone's email address in a few seconds when typing a new outgoing email. You can also send the same message to multiple recipients using the "To" field, or the "cc" or "bcc" field, just as you can with your regular email program on your Windows or Mac computer.

Many of the Mail app's features can be customized by tapping the Settings icon from the Home Screen, scrolling down, and tapping on the "Mail, Contacts, Calendars" icon; and then by scrolling downward, toward the bottom of the Accounts screen.

For example, you can set how often your iPhone or iPad will check your email account for new incoming messages by tapping the "Fetch New Data" icon (as shown in Figure 6). Your options include off, every 15 minutes, every 30 minutes, hourly, or manually. You can also customize about a dozen other email-related options, including email Signatures, from the command icons displayed under the "Mail, Contacts, Calendars" screen.

Depending on how you set up your email account(s) on your computer, and what options you select with your email service provider, when you access an email message from your iPhone or iPad, and delete it from the mobile device, for example, it could impact that email message's status when you access your email account from your desktop or laptop computer. So, if you delete an incoming email message after reading it on your iPhone, it may no longer be listed in the Inbox on your primary computer.

Likewise, unless you tap the "Mark Unread" option when reading an incoming email message on your iPhone or iPad, it could automatically be transferred to your "Old" or "Read" folder on your computer. Thus, it's important to understand how your email accounts are set up, so you don't accidentally misplace important email correspondence when switching between your primary computer and your mobile device.

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Last Update: November 17, 2020