I recently talked about why I keep coming back to the stock iOS Mail app. While some of the things I’ve come to love about the stock Mail app are obvious, some of then are not — such as shortcuts or gestures that make using it even more intuitive. Here are a few of my favorites that I think everyone should know about:
1. Swipe down to save drafts
In my last article on Mail.app I mentioned how I love the fact that I can swipe down to get back to my inbox and Mail automatically saves my draft for when I want to access it again.
I received a few emails from readers and even comments on Twitter or Facebook about how shocked people were that they could do this. It never occurred to me before how many people didn’t even know this was a feature.
All you have to do to use this feature is start typing an email. Swipe down from the top header of the email and the draft will be saved under the bottom navigation. When you’re ready to access it again, just tap in the bottom.
If you have more than one draft, you’ll be shown all of them in a stack, very similar to how Safari shows multiple open browser tabs. Just tap on the draft you want to continue working on it. If you want to discard a draft, just swipe it away the exact same way you’d swipe away a Safari tab.
2. Bring back a draft from the dead
I mentioned in the first tip that you can swipe away drafts just as you can Safari tabs. But what if you accidentally swipe away a draft you didn’t mean to, or one goes missing?
I stumbled upon this trick on accident, but I’m glad that I did. Just hold down on the Compose button and a few of your recent draft emails should be presented to you.
This trick doesn’t work for all draft emails, but it seems to work for the most recent ones. I’m not sure how it dictates when to trash them and when to keep them, but it always seems to show 2-3 recent drafts.
It isn’t a trick I use very often but it’s saved me a few times, so it’s worth mentioning.
3. Delete or archive, you don’t have to choose
When you’re viewing a single message, you have an option in the bottom navigation to either archive or delete the message you’re viewing. This option is dictated by what you have your mailbox set to in Settings.
However, if you hold down on this icon, you’ll get a popup menu. In this menu you can choose to archive or delete the message, regardless of settings. I use this frequently instead of having to back out of a message to swipe and access the other option.
4. Archive and delete in swipe gestures
Speaking of swipe gestures for archiving and deleting, there’s a small trick you can perform in Mail’s settings in order to access archive or delete from the main inbox view. I love having this option for quick triage since it allows me to quickly swipe through my inbox much faster than selecting groups of messages.
Basically, you’ll need to change a few settings in the Settings app, but once you’re done, you’ll be able to swipe left for Archive and right for Delete. Here is everything you need to know:
5. Quick access to any folder
I don’t remember exactly when the inbox list view added the option to customize folders, but I’ve been using it since I first discovered it. All you have to do is tap Edit at the top of the inbox view and you’ll instantly get options to add all kinds of useful thread views to this list.
While you can use this to add all kinds of useful functionality, such as easy access to threads with notifications or flagged messages, you can also use it to access your custom folders and labels faster.
For example, I frequently access my Developers folder in my App Factor account more than any other folder. With Mail.app I can add it to my main folder list so I can quickly jump into it without having to tap into my App Factor box, find it in a list, and tap into it from it there. It doesn’t seem like it would save that much time, but if you have nested folders, it can be a life saver.
6. Auto-detection magic
I’ve talked about this many times before but it’s worth mentioning again. iOS 8 added all kinds of nifty improvements for Mail.app. One of my favorites was auto-detection, and I still use it almost every single day.
If you’ve ever seen a small banner show up at the top of a mail message, this is auto-detection at work. It typically picks up appointments that may be contained in a message, and that’s my most frequent use for it.
Mail’s auto-detection also functions as an easier way to add contacts to your address book. It can also detect when someone makes changes to their contact information. In only a few taps, you can accept those changes without having to manually enter anything.
7. Special alerts for VIP contacts
I like to keep my notifications as specific and obvious as possible, and this includes email. With the VIP feature in Mail.app I know whether or not an email is important without even pulling my iPhone out of my pocket.
Not only can I customize the tone for people I’ve designated as VIP, I can also customize the vibration pattern. This way even when my iPhone is on silent, I still don’t miss important email messages that may need my attention.
I know some third party email apps have ways to assign people as VIPs but they’ve never worked as well as for me as Mail.app’s simple and easy to use implementation.
Your tips and tricks?
If you use Mail.app, do you have any tips and tricks you think are worth sharing? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
And if you don’t use Mail.app, what features of third party apps keep you there? Let me know that too!