Apple’s mobile email client has been designed with simplicity in mind, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some useful tips and tricks to be found if you look closely enough.
A few of the tips we’ve mentioned here only apply to the new iOS 9 software Apple rolled out last week, but some of them can be used in Mail in iOS 8 as well.
1. Swipe down on drafts
When you’re composing a new email you might well want to refer back to a date, address, or hilarious turn of phrase from a previous message. To get back to your inbox, swipe down on the draft from its title bar—your new email drops to the bottom and can be recalled again with a tap.
2. Scribble over email attachments
One feature that is exclusive to iOS 9 is the ability to add annotations to email attachments. Tap and hold on an attachment (such as an image or a PDF) and you should see a Markup option somewhere in the list that pops up. A variety of pen sizes and colors are available, plus a text tool.
3. Tweak the gesture options
You might have already realized you can swipe left or right on messages to perform certain actions, but you don’t have to stick with Apple’s default configuration: From Settings, tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars and then choose Swipe Options to set the mail actions you want quick access to.
4. Set up thread alerts
When you want special alerts for a particular email thread (as opposed to a particular contact, which is handled by the VIP list), tap on the alarm bell symbol in the subject field when composing a message and then choose Notify Me. Head to the notifications part of Settings to customize the alert.
5. Delete all messages
Getting back to inbox zero just got a whole lot easier in iOS 9: Tap the Edit button at the top of the messages list and there’s a new Delete All option to take advantage of. You can get back trashed messages the same way as always, by tapping the relevant email box under the list of accounts.
6. Quickly get to drafts
You can get to your drafts easily enough through the accounts list on Mail’s opening screen, but there is a quicker way that you might not have seen yet: Just tap and hold on the Compose icon (a pen inside a box) to bring up all of your current drafts together with the option to start a new message.
7. Handoff emails
Thanks to Apple’s new Continuity feature, you can start an email on your iPhone and finish it on your Mac (or vice versa). On all devices, you need to be signed into the same iCloud account, on the same wifi network and with Bluetooth enabled. The option to continue your email appears in the dock.
8. See more of your emails
This is an older trick but it’s still handy. From Settings head to Mail, Contacts, Calendar and then tap Preview—here you can set how many lines of each email you’re able to read without opening it up, which can make all the difference when you’re trying to locate a particular message quickly.
9. Change photo resolutions on iPad
If you’re importing large pictures into Mail on your iPhone, you’ll be asked if you want to change the resolution straight away, but it’s different on iPad: Tap the Images link that appears to the right of Cc/Bcc when multiple pictures have been imported and choose the image resolutions from there.
10. Add attachments from anywhere
iOS 9 finally ushers in the option to add any kind of attachment to your email messages, rather than just images. Double-tap inside an email you’re composing and select Add Attachment; to choose a file from somewhere other than iCloud, tap on the Locations option in the top left-hand corner.