Sending and Receiving Mail
Now that your accounts are finally set up properly, you can send and receive messages. The process works this way.
Receiving email is dead simple. Just follow these steps:
Tap the Mail icon in the iPhone's Home screen.
Even if you have the Auto-Check Mail Setting set to Manual, Mail will check for new messages when you first launch the application. If you have new messages, the iPhone will download them.
When it does, a number will appear next to the account name, indicating the account's number of unread messages. Any messages that contain attachments will bear a paper-clip icon next to the sender's name.
Tap the account name.
You'll see a list of that account's mailboxes (Figure 4.4). For POP accounts, those mailboxes will include Inbox, Drafts (if you've saved any composed messages without sending them), Sent (if you've sent any messages from that account), and Trash (if you've deleted any messages from that account). For IMAP accounts, you'll see Inbox, Drafts, Sent, Trash, and then any folders associated with that IMAP account (folders you've added to a .Mac account, for example).
Figure 4.4 An account screen.
In the bottom-right corner of an account screen, you'll see a Compose icon. Tap it, and a New Message screen appears, along with the iPhone's keyboard. I talk about creating new messages in "Creating and sending email" later in this chapter.
Tap the Inbox.
Messages will appear in a list, with the most recently received messages at the top. Unread messages will have a blue dot next to them. The Inbox heading will have a number in parentheses next to it—Inbox (22), for example. That (22) means that you have 22 unread messages.
This screen also bears a Compose icon and, in the bottom-left corner, a Retrieve icon, which you tap to check for new mail.
This screen also has an Edit button in the top-right corner; this icon lets you delete messages. Tap it, and all the messages in the list acquire a red minus (-) button. Tap a minus button, and a Delete button appears to the right of the message. Tap Delete to move the message to the Trash. Alternatively, you can do without the Edit button by swiping your finger across a message entry to force the Delete button to appear. Again, tap Delete, and the message moves to the Trash.
Navigating the Message screen
Simple though it may be, the Message screen packs a punch. In it, you find not only standard email elements such as From and To fields, Subject, and message body, but also icons for adding contacts and for filing, trashing, replying to, and forwarding messages. The screen breaks down this way.
Before the body
The top of the Message screen displays the number of messages in the mailbox as well as the number of the displayed message—2 of 25, for example. Tap the up or down arrow to the right to move quickly to the previous or next message in the mailbox (Figure 4.5 on the next page).
Figure 4.5 Message body with document attached.
Below that, you'll see From and To fields. Each field will display at least one contact name or email address (one of which could be your own) in a blue bubble. Tap one of these bubbles, and if the name or address is in your iPhone's Contacts directory, you'll be taken to its owner's Info screen. If the name or address isn't among your contacts, a screen will appear, offering you the option of emailing the person, adding him to your Contacts directory, or adding the address to an existing Contacts entry.
Tapping Email with a contact bubble selected opens a new email message with that person's email address in the To field. The email will be sent from the account you're currently working in.
Tap Create New Contact, and a New Contact screen appears, with that person's name at the top and his email address filled in below. If the message has no name associated with it—you were sent a message by a company address such as firstname.lastname@example.org, for example—no name will appear in the Name field (Figure 4.6).
Figure 4.6 Create a new contact.
Tap Add to Existing Contact, and a list of all the contacts on your iPhone appears. Tap a contact, and an Add Email screen appears, displaying that email address in the first field. Below that field is another that reads Home, Work, or Other. Tap it, and assign an appropriate label to the contact.
You can hide the To field by tapping the Hide entry next to it. This action will hide all the To fields in all the messages in all your accounts, and it will make the Hide entry change to read Details. To expose the To fields again, just tap Details.
Below the From and To fields, you'll see the message subject, followed by the date and a Mark As Unread entry. Tap this entry to do exactly what it suggests.
Finally, in the area below, are the pithy words you've been waiting for. Just as in your computer's email client, you'll see the text of the message. Quoted text appears with a vertical line to its left—or more than one line, depending on how many quote "layers" the message has. If a message has several quote layers, each vertical line is a different color. (The first three layers are blue, green, and red, respectively; subsequent layers are red from there on out.)
If the message has attachments, they will appear below the message text. If Cousin Bill sends photos from his latest vacation, they'll appear here (Figure 4.7).
Figure 4.7 Message with attached photo, with Mail tool icons at the bottom of the screen.
URLs, email addresses, and phone numbers contained within messages will appear as blue, live links. Tap a URL, and Safari launches and takes you to that Web page. Tap an email address, and a new email message opens with that address in the To field. A tapped phone number causes a dialog box to appear. In it, you see the phone number and icons that offer to Cancel or Call.
The tools below
The toolbar at the bottom of the screen contains five icons (see Figure 4.7):
- Retrieve. Tap this circular icon, and the iPhone will check for new messages for that account.
- Mailboxes. When you tap the Mailboxes icon, you're presented with a list of all the mailboxes associated with that account. Tap one of these mailboxes, and the message will be filed there. (Use this method to move a message out of the Trash.)
- Trash. Tap this icon, and the cute little trash can pops its top and sucks the message into it. Like I said, to move messages out of the Trash, just tap the Trash mailbox in your account screen, tap a message, tap the Mailboxes icon, and then tap the mailbox where you'd like to put the message.
Send. The left-arrow icon is your pathway to the Reply and Forward commands (Figure 4.8).
Figure 4.8 Reply button.
When you tap the Send icon and then the Reply button that appears, a new message appears, with the Subject heading Re: Original Message Subject, in which where Original Message Subject is ... well, you know. The message is addressed to the sender of the original message, and the Insertion point awaits at the top of the message body. The original text is quoted below. The message is mailed from the account you're working in.
Tap Forward, and you're responsible for filling in the To field in the resulting message. You can type it in yourself with the keyboard that appears or tap the plus (+) icon to add a recipient from your iPhone's list of contacts. This message bears Fwd: at the beginning of the Subject heading, followed by the original heading. The original message's From and To information appear at the top of the message as quoted text followed by the original message.
- Compose. Last is our old friend the Compose icon. Tap it, and a New Message screen appears, ready for your input.
Creating and sending email
If it truly is better to give than receive, the following instructions for composing and delivering mail from your iPhone should enrich your life significantly. With regard to email, the iPhone can give nearly as good as it gets. Here's how to go about it.
As I mention earlier in the chapter, you can create new email messages by tapping the Compose icon that appears on every account and mailbox screen. You'll even find the Compose icon available when you've selected Trash. To create a message, follow these steps:
Tap the Compose icon.
Remember, the message will be sent from the account you're currently working in. If you've selected your CompanyX.com account, that account will send the message.
In the New Message screen that appears, type the recipient's email address or in the To field, tap the plus icon.
When you place the cursor in the To or Cc field, notice that the iPhone's keyboard adds @ and period (.) characters where the spacebar usually resides. (The spacebar is still there; it's just smaller.) This makes it easy to type addresses, without having to switch to the numbers and symbols keyboard.
When you start typing a name, the iPhone will suggest recipients based on entries in your list of contacts (Figure 4.9). If the recipient you want appears in the list below the To field, tap that name to add it to the field.
Figure 4.9 Begin typing to find a contact.
When you tap the plus icon, your list of contacts appears. Navigate through your contacts and tap the one you want to add to the To field. Some contacts will have multiple email addresses; tap the one you'd like to use. To add more names to the To field, type them or tap the plus icon to add them.
To delete a recipient, tap it and then tap the Delete key on the iPhone's keyboard.
- If you'd like to Cc someone, tap in that field and then use any of the techniques in step 2 for adding a recipient.
Tap the Subject field, and enter a subject for your message with the iPhone's keyboard.
That subject will replace the words New Message at the top of the screen.
- Tap in the message body (or, if the insertion point is in the Subject field, tap Return on the iPhone's keyboard to move to the message body), and type your message.
Tap Send to send the message or Cancel to save or delete your message.
The Send icon, in the top-right corner, is easy enough to understand. Tap that icon, and the message is sent from the current account.
Cancel is a little more confusing. If you've typed anywhere in the New Message screen's Subject field or message body (even if you subsequently deleted everything you typed), a sheet will roll up when you tap Cancel, displaying Save, Don't Save, and Cancel icons. Tap Save to store the message in the account's Drafts mailbox. (If no such mailbox exists, the iPhone will create one.) When you tap Don't Save, the message is deleted. When you tap Cancel, the iPhone assumes that you made a mistake when you tapped Cancel the first time and it removes this sheet.
If the iPhone can't send a message—when you don't have access to a Wi-Fi network or AT&T's EDGE network, for example—it will create an Outbox for the account from which you're trying to send the message. When you next use Mail and are able to send the message, the iPhone will make the connection and send any messages in the Outbox, at which point the Outbox will disappear.