Email is that thing we all have to worry about, but managing it can be a real pain. So what’s an Apple user to do? While I use the Mailbox app for my day-to-day email management, Apple’s built-in Mail app has some new features in iOS 7 that make it a better choice for certain tasks.
Here are my top 5 tips for making the default mail app on your iPhone and iPad work for you:
Use the new ‘More’ button
Under iOS 6, swiping from right to left on a message revealed a single red button that would allow you to archive or delete (depending on your email provider) the message at hand. With iOS 7, Apple added a new “More” button that provides an extra set of actions.
The more menu gives you a whole host of new options including the ability to flag a message, quickly reply, or move it to a different folder. It’s not nearly as quick as swiping in Mailbox, but it does offer greater functionality. As someone who relies on massive chains of nested folders in order to organize all my email, this is invaluable for getting towards Inbox Zero.
Also, if you need to mow through a laundry list of emails, it’s a lot quicker than having to open up each message individually.
It’s worth noting, though, you still can’t delete something from your Gmail account by swiping, which brings me to my next tip…
Convince Gmail to delete your stuff
But even though you have more storage space in your email than you can possibly shake a stick at, sometimes, you just want to be rid of a message and never see it again. There are a couple of methods for doing this in iOS 7, depending on whether not you want to take a case-by-case approach, or just delete a bunch of email in one fell swoop.
When you’re viewing the message, just hold your finger on the filing box in the center of the bottom bar and wait for a dialog box to pop up on the bottom of your screen. Then, just tap the red “Trash Message” option and you’re done. To delete multiple messages at once, go to your mailbox, and then tap “Edit” in the upper right-hand corner. Select the messages that you want to delete and then repeat the same process, but this time hold your finger over “Archive” in the lower right-hand corner.
Get into the VIP
One of the new features under iOS 7 is the “VIP” mailbox. If you’re sitting around with hundreds of emails in your inbox, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what you need to take action on right away. But usually, there’s a certain group of people, like your significant other, family members, and key co-workers whose emails you always need to be on top of.
The VIP mailbox gives you one place that aggregates all the emails from a set group of addresses that you choose from amongst your contacts, so you can always see key emails without having to wade through everything else anybody has sent you.
Unlock New Mailboxes
In addition to the VIP mailbox, which is shown in Mail by default, there are also a handful of other new, hidden mailboxes that provide functionality which is especially helpful for those of us who have to wrangle multiple email accounts at once. Chiefly notable among them are the “all drafts” and “all sent” boxes, which give you a quick, at-a-glance look at all the emails you haven’t sent yet, and all the emails you have sent off in the past.
One of the mailboxes I’ve found most useful is the “all attachments” box, which shows you all of the messages in all of your inboxes that have files attached to them. For me, it’s a great way to easily find key emails I need to act on from people who don’t live in my VIP mailbox. Of course, if you work in an office that runs on Outlook, and your coworkers constantly send you emails with Winmail.dat files attached, it could be a bit less useful.
To enable the new mailboxes, tap “Edit” in the upper-right-hand corner of the main Mail.app screen, and then check the mailboxes you want to enable.
Tweak a couple settings
As a part of its design overhaul under iOS 7, flagged messages are now represented by an orange dot by default. While that fits well with Apple’s new look, some people aren’t huge fans of the change. If you want your old flags back, go to Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Flag Style > Shape.
While you’re in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings, you can also change the size of the message preview to encompass up to the first five lines of every email you get. Or, if you’d prefer to condense your inbox, you can cut out the preview entirely, and just leave the address of the person who sent it to you along with the subject line.
So there you have it: five tips to help make iOS 7′s default Mail app work better for you on your iPhone and iPad. Have any more tips for better wrangling email on iOS? Share them in the comments!
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.