5 kick ass tips for the Mail app in iOS 8.1

The other day I was rushing to catch a train on the Long Island Railroad.

While standing on the platform, getting soaked in the rain, my train eventually arrived and the huge amorphous mass of people began to shuffle themselves into the cabin through the narrow entrance.

Everyone is vying for a seat and all the tall people are looking down the aisle for a place to sit.  Unfortunately by the time I arrived, all seats were taken but I decided to use this as an opportunity to see what people use their phones for.

I’m a tall guy, about 6, 3″ so I could easily see the games people were playing on their smartphones (Words with Friends and Solitaire are popular!), the Facebook feeds people were consuming and the emails they were checking.

Yeah yeah – so I’m nosy.  Dang it I confessed it okay!

Anyway, one thing that really caught my eye was that most people on the train had iPhones and since it was the morning commute, most of those people were using the Mail app.

But then I started to wonder: how many of these people really know how to use the Mail app?  I know it’s easy to use.  You just tap the Mail app, flick through your messages and reply to those you like and trash those you don’t. But since I saw so many people using the Mail app, I figured I’d take the time to show you my top 5 kick ass tips for really getting the most out of it.

Most of these tips are kind of hidden; you have to dig to find them – you need to know where to look.  So here’s my promise to you today: not only will I share these Mail app tips with you, but I promise after using these tips for a few hours you’ll become a dexterous mail aficionado who get’s things done faster than the guy next to you plus with less effort.

Check this out…

Here’s what I’m planning to show you today:

  1. How to minimize the compose window
  2. Getting alerts for email threats
  3. Did you know you can swipe to mark as read?
  4. Shake to undelete
  5. Add info directly to contacts

Shall we jump in?

Yes we shall!

1. Minimize the compose window without saving to drafts

Old iPhone users will recall that composing emails on the iPhone was a pain in the butt. You couldn’t easily flip between the email you were composing and other emails in your inbox.

Let’s say you needed to copy a link or message from a previous email and you wanted to paste that in the message you were composing.

How would you do that?

Most people:

  1. Saved the message to drafts
  2. Found the email they wanted to copy from
  3. Copied the text
  4. Reopened the draft
  5. Pasted in the content

Well with iOS 8.1 you don’t have to worry about this craziness.

You can tap the little pencil and pad icon in the bottom right corner of the Mail app to compose a message.  Then when you need to fetch some content from another email in your inbox, simply drag the New Message title bar to the bottom of the screen and it’ll sit there minimized.

If you’ve entered a subject in the new email, the title bar will show the subject name instead of the phrase: “New Message”.

My email subject is called Testing the iOS 8.1 Mail App.

Minimizing the compose email in iOS 8.1

You might have to practice a few times dragging the window down.  I closed it accidentally but figured it out with a few swipes.

It’s a smooth, slow, continuous movement from the title bar to the screen base.

Viewing the minimized compose window

Now you can flick through your other emails, get what you need and then quickly return to the message you were composing by tapping the minimized bar at the bottom of the screen.

2. Get alerts for specific email threads

You can tell the Mail app to alert you whenever anyone replies to a specific email conversation.  It doesn’t matter if it’s your boss or an intern, you’ll get a notification when the thread is updated so you’ll always been in the loop.

Open an email in the thread, then tap the flag icon in the lower left corner of the screen and touch Notify Me…

Thread notifications in iOS 8.1

You can tweak your alert sounds, add alerts to the lock screen and even show previews by tapping Settings, going to Notifications and tapping the Mail icon.

Mail notification settings

3. Swipe to Mark as Read

I’m always skimming my emails and I use read and unread emails to track what I need to do for the day.  But I hate having to tap open an email just to read it so I can mark it as read.

In iOS 8.1, you can mark an email as read by simply swiping the message preview, in your inbox, from left to right.

But I need to qualify that statement because it’s not as straightforward as it sounds.

If you swipe from the far left edge of the screen to the right side you’ll go back to viewing all your mailboxes.

But if you swipe from the right side to the far right side it won’t automatically get marked as read either.  The trick is to position your index finger about two fourths of the way across the message preview and then swipe all the way to the right in one continuous motion.

Swipe to mark as read in iOS 8.1

Swiping again in the same to mark it as unread again.

4. Shake what yo’ mama gave you

How many times have you accidentally deleted an important message and then were unable to recover it?

Where do deleted messages end up on your iPhone anyway?

Here’s the deal.

If you delete a message by mistake, restore it with a shake.

I know that sounds silly but the iPhone gives you a few seconds to restore a message by simply shaking the phone a few times.

Shake your phone to undelete an email

If you feel silly doing that (I definitely felt stupid shaking my phone), you can always view your deleted messages by placing your index finger on the far left corner of the screen and swiping all the way to the right.

Then flick down to your email accounts and tap the one that has your trashed email.

Recovering trashed emails in iOS 8.1

5. Add info directly to your contacts

Tap the senders name and you’ll see a new box to Create New Contact or Add to Existing Content.

Adding a email sender to contacts in iOS 8.1

I like Jeff Walker so I’m going to add him to my Contact List.

Sometimes the Add to Contacts banner will automatically appear near the top of the email.  In that case, just tap Add to Contacts and you’re done.

Adding an email sender to contacts

This is a quick way to augment your address book while you’re flicking through messages.

The Bottom Line

You now have what you need to vanquish your inbox.

Whether your running to catch a bus or waiting for a friend to join you for dinner, you can easily take control of your inbox and get back in the commanders seat.

  • Minimizing the compose window makes it easy to copy content between emails.
  • Thread alerts keep you abreast of important email conversations.
  • Swiping to mark messages as read will save you the time of opening emails to mark them read.
  • Shake to undelete makes it easy to recover deleted emails (and sounds fun, “shake to undelete”) and
  • Adding people to your contacts from within emails has never been easier.

So talk to me: did you learn something new today?  If so, please share in the comments!  Also, if you have any tips of your own that I missed let me know about it!

As always, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to read my site. There are hundreds of place you can go online to get your content but you chose fixedByVonnie.com.

I’m happy to have a place in your day.  Thank you!

Oh on a side note, this Monday I’ve got a treat for you.  I’m going to show you one application that will make power users rejoice.  It has everything in one package and should save you hours of work on the job.  It’s probably not what you’re thinking of!  Have a good weekend.

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