The 25 Best Mail Tips for iPhone and iPad: Do More, Better

BY Osas Obaizamomwan

Published 17 Nov 2015

Email has become a constant part of most people’s lives. Some primarily use email for work, others may use it to communicate with friends and family located all over the world. Whatever your reason for using email, the fact is, email is important. And when something is important, you want to be able to use it efficiently and quickly. Mail on iOS 9 and particularly on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, has made some major improvements. These improvements help you move around your inbox easier and have actions to make sure all your daily tasks are done as quickly as possible.

25 Mail Tips for iPhone and iPad: Do More, Better

We have compiled some of the best iOS 9 Mail tips that will make using the app more intuitive, upgrading your current skill set to pro status – Check it out.

1. Markup and Reply

When sending screenshots back and forth between team members, having the ability to annotate on the fly is crucial for productivity. This is where Mail’s Markup feature comes into play. With Markup, users can add text, signatures, magnify sections, and draw on attachments within the Mail app. Now that handy feature has been added to Mail for iOS 9.

Using Markup and Reply

To use Markup, find an attachment in an email. If the attachment is embedded in the body of the message, tap and hold the image to bring up the menu. If an email has a classic attachment, open the attachment normally, and tap and hold to bring up the menu where you’ll then select Markup and Reply (icon looks like a briefcase… or lunchbox).

Markup - Using Tools

2. Download Attachments

Downloading attachments is something to be expected when dealing with email. But until iOS 9, it was not possible to download attachments to your iPhone or iPad. I know right? So, in a better-late-than-never move, iOS 9 finally brought the ability to download and attach files in the Mail app — well sort of. You can save files to your iCloud Drive.

Mail - Move Attachment

Downloading an Attachment 

In the Share sheet, swipe until you see the Save Attachment icon. Tap on the icon and you will be taken to iCloud Drive. Select where you wish to save the file and tap Move to this location.

3: Add Attachments

You can also add attachment to an email as long as it is saved to iCloud Drive.

Adding an Attachment

To do so, tap and hold inside of a message and select Add Attachment. Select the attachment from the Drive, add it to your message and send it off.

iOS 9 - Add Attachment - Mail App

4.Peek and Pop

Peek and Pop is a nifty resource for working within particular applications. I’d argue that Peek and Pop is most useful when used with the iOS 9 Mail app.


With Peek and Pop you can preview the inside of a message without having actually read it. This is a huge bonus versus reading a message and then marking it as unread. The gesture-based functions add a layer of complexity to the app, adding value and speed to common swipe gestures.

Mark, Archive and Trash

You can also mark as read, archive, and trash emails while in the Peek view. While still holding your finger on the screen, swipe right to either Archive or Trash an email or swipe left to mark that email as Read/Unread.

Peek - Gestures

Bring up the Menu

While still holding your finger on the screen, swipe on the message to bring up the menu. The menu options allow you to Reply, Forward, Mark, Notify (see step 26), and Move the email that you are Peeking at.

Peek - Reveal Menu

5. Swipe to Hide Drafts

When composing a draft it’s sometimes useful to view the inbox or the previous email you were looking at. Instead of needing to close out of the draft completely, you can now simply drag the Draft down to reveal the items behind it. Tapping on the Draft banner will bring it back up.

Hide Drafts

6. Handoff 

With Handoff, you can start an on one device and start from wherever you left off from another device. So if you start an email on your Mac (Yosemite or later) you can continue on your iPhone or iPad with ease.

Mail - Continuity

7. Add VIP

For those who may not know, VIP stands for Very Important Person. And sometimes VIPs need that extra added attention. Maybe it’s your boss or your doctor, but whoever your VIP may be, Mail will create a separate folder and add separate notifications for any VIP sender. To make a sender a VIP Mail, find a message from a sender you want to add to your VIP list. In the email, tap on the contact name in the header section, followed by tapping Add to VIP. 

Add to VIP

You can also add a VIP from the Contacts app in your phone. Open the Mail app and find VIP in the main section. This is open Contacts, where you will select which name you want to be listed as a VIP. Of course, this contact will need to have an email address included in their information.


8. Proactive search

Proactive Search is very similar to similar Spotlight. On your iPhone or iPad, swipe all the way to the right to reveal the Proactive Search area. Here you can search deep into your iPhone’s system. Simply type in some keywords from a message, and email address, or even an emoji to find an email regardless of which Mail account it is located in. Using Proactive Search cuts down on the time people spend searching their numerous mailboxes trying to find a particular message.

Proactive Search

9. Quickly access drafts

You can quickly access your drafts by tapping and holding the Compose icon. This will bring up all of your current and recent drafts across your email profiles. Tap an email message to jump back into crafting the draft.

Compose - Drafts

10. Format Text

If you want to add underlines, bold certain words, or format your email in a number of ways you can do so by selecting your text and bringing up the formatting options. Emails on your phone don’t have to be plain text all the time.

Formatting - iPhone

11. Utilize Gestures

When you are inside your inbox you can use gestures to manipulate your inbox. Slide to the right to Mark as Read or unread and slide to the left to bring up more options. You can also tap on the More button to bring up additional options.

Inbox - Gestures

12. Change Gesture Options

You also don’t have to stay with the default settings for gestures if you don’t want. Head over to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars and find Swipe Options. Tap the option you wish to change and select an alternative in the following menu.

Swipe Options

13. Delete All 

You know that rare place that very few people reach of pure, unfiltered serenity? That’s what it feels like to have your inbox at zero, nada, nothing. I haven’t had my inbox at zero since high school. But you can easily bulk delete your entire inbox in Mail. You cannot delete emails from All Inboxes, but you can delete emails from your individual inbox like Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail. Just tap Mark All or Move All and send them to the trash. Serenity at last.

Move All - Trash

14. Open Zip Attachments

Similar to opening attachments, you can also open zipped files without the need of a third-party app. As long as the zipped file is something that your device can read and view, you should be good to go.

Zipped - Mail

15. Short names and nicknames

How names appear can be either very helpful or very confusing. Show full names, last names only, or short names are all possible settings that you can choose for Mail’s inbox. If you want to change how names are show, head over to the Settings app -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Contacts and enable the options that you want.

Names - Mail

16. Rearrange, remove and add mailboxes

Mail has the ability to store multiple mailboxes. For instance, I can add the Junk mailbox from my Gmail to the main page. Or if I don’t like the Flagged inbox, I can remove that too. It’s pretty easy to do.

How to Rearrange, remove and add mailboxes

  • Tap on the Edit button on the top-right of the main menu
  • Your current mailboxes will have a blue check. If you want to remove one, simply tap off that check mark
  • If you want to add a Mailbox, find the one you want and tap ON the blue check mark.
  • You can also move the order with the grabber

Mailbox - Mail

17. Create multiple “from” addresses

You can create multiple “from” email addresses under a single account. To select which one of these to use as your “From” address in emails, open Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Your account -> Account -> Mail and you should see a list of all your email ids. Tapping on the Email field again will let you select the default “From” address.

Note: that if you setup a Gmail account using the Google option from settings, you won’t be able to get this option. Instead, you’ll have to set up your Gmail as an IMAP account.

18. Automatic group suggestions

Mail keeps track of which groups of people you mail frequently, and can suggest these groups in the compose window. So if you are in an email chain with Cory, Dan, and Jordan, if you type in Jordan in the To section, Mail will automatically suggest adding Cory and Dan to the message. A cool time-saver.

19. Selective Quotes

When you don’t want to have the entire email included inside of your reply, you can simply select a portion of the original email. Tap to select the area of text and hit the reply icon in the bottom. The selected text will be included in your reply.

Selctive Reply

20. Attach media from the compose window

Long tap in the compose field and you’ll see an option to insert a video or a photo (you’ll have to tap the right arrow to see the option).

Insert Video

21. Increase or decrease text size

If you want the text size of your mails to increase, simple go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility and adjust the slider according to your needs. This change will occur within Mail and all other apps on the device.

Adjust Size

22. Slide Over

On the iPad you can easily work with two apps at the same time with Slide Over. If you are working on a document and need to pull up the Mail app you can do so with ease. Once done slide the Mail app off, and continue your browsing.

23. Picture in Picture 

The iPad is big enough for two screens. Well not really, but you can FaceTime or have a call while writing or working on an email message. Pretty convenient for multi-taskers or folks working on group projects.

24. Split View

Another iPad advantage, similar to Slide Over is Split View. Users can give 50% percent of the screen to Mail and another application for increased productivity.

25. Show and hide Inbox in Portrait mode

If you find it a pain to keep jumping between the Inbox and the email in the portrait mode in the Mail app, then you will be happy to know that there is a quicker way to show and hide the inbox. While in portrait mode, simply swipe right from the left edge of the screen to bring up the inbox. You can swipe back to the left to hide it again.


We couldn’t stop at just 25 tips.

26. Set up thread alerts

When you want special alerts for a particular email thread 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.

Notify - Mail

27. Longer Email Preview 

From Settings head to Mail, Contacts, Calendar and then tap Preview and you can set how many lines of each email you can view without opening the message.

Preview - Message

28. 3D Touch – Quick Actions 

3D Touch is a new addition for iOS 9 and exclusively available on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. If you do a 3D Touch action on the Mail icon (press in deeply on the icon) you can bring up the Quick Actions menu. From this menu you can access the Inbox, Compose a message, Search the inbox, or view Flagged items.

Quick Actions - 3D Touch

29. Move emails between CC, BCC fields

If you’ve typed an email address in the “To” field but want to move it to the BCC field, you can avoid cut/paste by simply long tapping on the email address you want to move, and then drag it to the required field.

Move Email - Name

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comment section.

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