Here are some tips for getting the most out of Mail on the iPad and iPhone in iOS 7. This feature was based on iOS 7, although many of the features are still available in iOS 8. Don't miss our top iOS 8 tips article here: 29 iOS 8 tips & tricks: Get to know iOS 8's best new features

Get drafts faster

If you hold the compose button for long enough, you will be presented with a list of previous drafts cascading down the right-hand side of the page. The drafts each preview enough of the copy to give a gist of the email and clicking on any one of these will take you full-screen.

VIP – not just for your boss

Launched on iOS 6, the VIP feature has the ability to be excellent for catching must-read email, and equally terrifying when your boss chimes in at all hours of the day.

The VIP feature isn’t just for your boss though, but rather for any contacts whose emails are of high importance.

Setting up contacts as VIP on iOS is quick and easy; just double-tap on the recipient or sender and you’ll see their contact details and – further down - the option to add them as VIP. Once established, all your email correspondence with said contact will appear under the VIP inbox on the left-hand sidebar.

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Furthermore, via the Notification Centre, you can set VIP sound alerts and how VIP notifications appear when the screen is locked.

Filter emails quickly

If you want to action hundreds of emails in your iOS inbox in the quickest possible time, tap the ‘Edit’ button at the top right of the main mailboxes menu.

Having selected your chosen emails, you should see options to mark (flag, mark as read, move to junk), move or send to trash.


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Set up signatures

‘Send from my iPhone’ is an increasingly common sight and this is perhaps unsurprising given the sheer volume of iOS devices entering the workplace.

Establishing a signature like the aforementioned example certainly has its advantages – it lets recipients know that you’re unavailable, travelling or away from the office and as such explains any literary errors.

To create a signature for iOS, visit ‘Mail, Contacts and Calendars’ and under ‘Signature’, set your signature and decides which accounts it will feature on.

As an aside, be careful how much information you send out – you’re supposed to be indicating your relative unavailability, not advertising to would-be robbers what iDevice you’re carrying.

Turn off push notifications

Push notifications can be quite useful way of staying abreast of your latest emails when used sparingly, but can result in continuous emails for marketing and social media emails if not.

To turn off push notifications for low priority emails, go to ‘Mail, Contacts and Calendars’ and look for the option to ‘fetch new data’.

From this screen, you can set the iOS device to trawl for new emails from the email server every 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hourly basis.

Alternatively, hit ‘advanced’ and set fetch data manually per each email account – a useful feature if you want to search for work emails only, for example.

Save to iCloud

Since its release in October 2011, Apple’s iCloud has been pivotal on iOS and OS X for backing up photos, contacts and emails and – more recently via iCloud for iWork – Pages, Numbers or Keynote documents.

Saving emails to iCloud is off by default on iOS 7 but you can change this in the email settings. You’ll need a free @iCloud account but having done so, iOS users should be able to access all that they can on iOS, including emails and even email folders, and on mobile and desktop.

Swipe left for email options

Swiping to the left on each email when viewing from the email sidebar will give you quick options for trash, replying, forwarding, flagging, moving or marking as unread.


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Ask before deleting

The archive, trash and reply buttons are relatively close together on the stock iOS email app and that can be a hazard for those of us with big fingers.

A useful setting to guard against accidental deletion is to tick the ‘ask before deleting’ option on the Settings menu. Simply tap on ‘Mails, Contacts and Calendars’ and toggle the ‘ask before deleting’ option.

The next time you accidentally hit the trash button; a dialogue box will appear and require your confirmation to delete the email.

Smart mailboxes

One of the best email features on iOS 7 is Smart Mailboxes, which allows users to customise their main mailbox listing.

Users simply have to tap the ‘edit’ button on the menu bar to change the order. There’s options to include or delete folders from view (yes, haters can delete the VIP view) and include folders from certain mailboxes. For example, I added a folder for “Football Team” from my personal email account.

You can double-tap a folder to change the order of the listing and tap once on an item to enable or disable it. The blue cross indicates that the folder will appear on the main menu.

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Searching for better search

The stock iOS email app isn’t renowned for its search, so much so that some people have readily used the Gmail app instead for this instead.

The Spotlight search feature in iOS 7 has sparked a significant improvement, however.

To perform a more advanced search, swipe down on the app to reveal the search field and enter your required term. The full message content and messages stored on the mail server should then appear.

Don’t expect the level of intricacy associated with Gmail’s advanced search options, but the iOS email app is still smart enough for finding older emails. For example, tapping in “Flagged May 2014” results in messages that you flagged in the same month, while entering “To: [name] date” will pinpoint specific emails from contacts on the proposed date.

In addition, you can specify that you want emails only from VIPs.  

One word of warning– while iOS Spotlight understands these keyboards, your mail server may not and subsequently offer up literal results for typed keywords.


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