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.
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 4.6). 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 MobileMe or Google account, for example).
Figure 4.6 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 appear in a list, with the most recently received messages at the top. Unread messages 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.
An Edit button in the top-right corner lets you delete messages. Tap it, and all the messages in the list acquire a dim gray circle next to them. This circle is for marking messages you want to delete or move. Tap one of these circles, and a red check icon appears within it. Continue tapping messages until you've selected all the messages you'd like to delete or move. Then tap the Delete button at the bottom of the screen, and all the messages will be moved to the Trash. (Alternatively, with regard to deleting messages, you can do without the Edit button. Swipe your finger across a message entry to force a Delete button to appear, and tap Delete; the message moves to the Trash.)
Tap Move, and a Mailboxes screen scrolls up from the bottom, listing all available mailboxes for that account. Choose a mailbox, and the selected messages move to it. This move feature is really useful only if you're using an IMAP account, as unlike POP accounts, IMAP accounts can have additional folders for filing email messages.
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 4.7).
Figure 4.7 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 (Figure 4.8). 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.
Figure 4.8 A contact's Info screen.
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 from a company address such as firstname.lastname@example.org, for example—no name will appear in the Name field.
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.
You can hide the To field by tapping the Hide entry near 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 4.9 on the next page).
Figure 4.9 Message with attached photo.
URLs, email addresses, and phone numbers contained within messages 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 (refer to Figure 4.9):
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, Reply All, Forward, and Save Image commands (Figure 4.10).
Figure 4.10 The Reply sheet.
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 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.
If a message you received was sent to multiple recipients, tapping Reply All lets you send a reply to all the recipients addressed in the original message.
Tap Forward, and you're responsible for filling in the To field in the resulting message. You can type it 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.
And if a message has an image attached to it, you'll see a Save Image button. Tap that button, and the attached image will be added to the Camera Roll collection in the Photos application.
Compose. Last is your 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 in 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.
By default, Mail fills the From field with the address for this account. But you needn't use that account. Just tap From, and any other email accounts you have will appear in a scrolling list. Tap the one you want to use.
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 insertion point in the To or Cc/Bcc 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 feature makes typing addresses easier, because you don't have 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 4.11). If the recipient you want appears in the list below the To field, tap that name to add it to the field.
Figure 4.11 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 or Bcc someone, tap in that field, tap in the appropriate field—CC or Bcc—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 3G or EDGE networks, 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.
Working with pushy MobileMe
Apple's $100-per-annum MobileMe Web service does a lot of things—provides 20GB of online storage; gives you a place to post galleries of images; and offers Webcentric mail, calendar, and contacts applications. For purposes of this discussion, one of the most important things it does is automatically synchronize (or push) mail, contact, calendar, and Internet bookmark information among your computers, your iPhone and iPod touch, and Apple's Internet-based MobileMe server. So, for example, when you enter a new event in the iPhone's Calendar application, it also soon appears within MobileMe's Calendar component on the Web, as well as on any computer that's synced with MobileMe. You set it up this way.
Configuring MobileMe on the Macintosh
You configure MobileMe through the MobileMe system preference, as follows:
- Choose Apple > System Preferences.
- Click the MobileMe preference in the Internet & Network section and then click the Sync tab.
Check the Synchronize with MobileMe box, and choose Automatically from the pop-up menu.
When you choose Automatically, you enable MobileMe's push capabilities. This command tells MobileMe that when some new data is added to the MobileMe Web site or to your iPhone (you've uploaded a photo to a photo gallery, created a new calendar event, or added a new contact, for example), that data should be pushed almost immediately to the other devices synced with your MobileMe account.
Note that this is not the case with data created on your computer. When you choose Automatically from this pop-up menu on your computer, any new data you create will be synchronized every 15 minutes. If you need that data synced sooner, simply click the Sync Now button.
In the Sync tab's scrolling pane, select the kind of data you'd like to synchronize.
You'll see several options in this pane, but the ones you're concerned about here are Calendars and Contacts (Figure 4.12).
Figure 4.12 A Mac's MobileMe system preferences.
To synchronize this data with MobileMe immediately, click Sync Now.
In the process, you may see a dialog box that asks how you'd like to sync your data. The options include merging your computer and MobileMe data, replacing the data on your computer with MobileMe's data, or replacing MobileMe's data with the data on your computer.
If you click the More Options button, you can choose a different option for the kinds of data you're syncing. You can choose to merge contacts but replace the calendars on your Mac with MobileMe's calendar information, for example.
Your Mac will do as you ask and synchronize your data. If the synchronization was successful, and if you chose to sync calendars and contacts, you should see the same data in iCal and Address Book that is available on the MobileMe Web site.
Configuring MobileMe in Windows
The process of syncing your data with MobileMe in Windows is similar to the Macintosh experience. The difference is that MobileMe syncs with Windows applications such as Microsoft Outlook and Windows Contacts, because Apple's iCal and Address Book don't come in Windows versions.
To configure MobileMe on a PC, follow these steps:
- Choose Start > Control Panels.
- Open the MobileMe Preferences control panel, and click the Sync tab.
Enable the Sync with MobileMe option, and choose Automatically from the pop-up menu.
(See the Macintosh configuration information in the preceding section to find out why you choose Automatically.)
Enable the kinds of data you want to sync.
Your choices are Contacts, Calendars, and Bookmarks. When you choose Contacts, you can sync with Outlook, Google Contacts, Yahoo Address Book, and Windows Contacts. For Calendars, you can sync only with Outlook. And Bookmarks can be synced with Internet Explorer or the Windows version of Apple's Web browser, Safari.
Click Sync Now.
As with Macintosh syncing, you'll be asked how you'd like to have the sync performed. And here too, you can choose how particular kinds of data are synced.
Configuring the iPhone
Now that your computer is configured, you're ready to add the iPhone to the mix, as follows:
- Tap Settings and then tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
- In the Accounts area, tap your MobileMe account.
In the account screen that appears, switch on those data types you'd like to sync with MobileMe.
Your choices are Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Bookmarks (Figure 4.13). Contacts, calendars, and bookmarks work as I describe earlier in this chapter; when contacts and calendar items are created, they're synchronized with MobileMe and any computers linked to your MobileMe account.
Figure 4.13 The iPhone's MobileMe syncing options.
When you switch on the Mail option, however, you're telling MobileMe to send any received messages to your iPhone immediately. When the Mail option is switched off, you'll receive that mail only when you launch the Mail application and check for it.