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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Read Messages

Before the iPad, I thought the iPhone's implementation of Mail was fine. Not great, but after all, email is mostly just text, right? Now that I've used Mail on the iPad, though, the iPhone version seems like I'm viewing my messages through a keyhole. It will work in a pinch, but the added screen real estate of the iPad makes a huge difference.

Mail presents two different views of your messages, depending on whether you're viewing the iPad in landscape or portrait orientation. The widescreen view displays mailboxes in a pane at left, with the currently-selected message at right (Figure 4.3).

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 Mail in landscape orientation

The tall view displays only the current message. To browse messages one by one, tap the Previous and Next buttons (Figure 4.4). Or, to view and access other messages in the mailbox, tap the button at upper left, which is labeled with the name of the active mailbox. A popover containing the messages appears.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 Mail in portrait orientation

As you read your email, Mail recognizes some data types and turns them into links. Tapping a Web address, as you might expect, opens the site in Safari. But Mail can also identify and act on street addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Tap an email address, and a new outgoing message is created. Tap a street address, and the Maps app launches and shows you the location.

You can also choose how to interact with the data. Tap and hold a link and then choose an option from the popover that appears (Figure 4.5).

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 Acting on a link in a message

View information about senders and recipients

In its attempt to shield people from complexity, Apple chose to show email senders and recipients as friendly named blobs instead of addresses like "norvile.barnes.hud@gmail.com". Those blobs become useful buttons, however.

Tap any sender or recipient to view more information (Figure 4.6). If the person is not in your list of contacts, you can easily add them by tapping the Create New Contact button. The popover changes to let you edit contact information; tap Done to add the person to your Contacts list. Or, tap Add to Existing Contact if this is a different address for someone you already know.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 Viewing sender information

On the other hand, tapping the button of a person already in your address book displays all of their information. That makes it easy to tap their address to view the location in the Maps app, for example.

Navigate accounts and mailboxes

It's not unusual for someone to have more than one email account. The interface for accessing them all isn't obvious, however. Use the controls in the navigation bar that appears either at the top of the left-hand pane (landscape orientation) or at the top of the popover (portrait orientation).

  1. Starting at the Accounts list, tap the name of an account (Figure 4.7).
    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 Navigating an account hierarchy

  2. Tap a mailbox, such as Inbox, to open it.
  3. Tap the message you want to read.

You can always go back in the hierarchy by tapping the back button. If you're going from one Inbox and want to view another account's Inbox, you need to tap back to the Accounts list, choose the other account, and drill down from there.

Check for new mail

When the iPad is connected to the Internet, it can check for new messages, even when Mail isn't the active app, using two methods: Push, where new messages are delivered to Mail as soon as they're available; and Fetch, where Mail contacts each accounts' server to see if there are any new messages. Of course, you can also perform a manual check whenever you want.

Check mail manually

Opening the Mail app triggers a check for new messages, so that's usually all you need to do. If you're eagerly awaiting a response from someone, you can also tap the Refresh button (refresh-button.jpg) at the bottom of the side panel or popover to load new mail.

Get new mail using Push

Push is available for MobileMe, Exchange, and Yahoo accounts. Do the following to enable it:

  1. Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  2. Tap the Fetch New Data button.
  3. Make sure the Push option is set to On.

Generally, Push applies to all of your accounts that support the feature. However, it's possible to disable Push for some accounts: On the same Fetch New Data screen above, tap the Advanced button, tap an account name, and then choose the Fetch or Manual option instead of Push.

Check mail on a schedule

For accounts that can't use Push, you can specify an interval for when Mail does its check, which happens in the background no matter which app is running or if the iPad is asleep.

  1. Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  2. Tap the Fetch New Data button.
  3. Tap a time interval to select it (Figure 4.8). If you choose Manually, the accounts are only checked when you open Mail or tap the Refresh button.
    Figure 4.8

    Figure 4.8 Specify how often Mail checks for new messages.

When new mail arrives, the Mail icon on the Home screen appears with a badge indicating the total number of unread messages in all accounts. The mailbox navigation button within Mail also displays an unread message count, although the number applies only to that mailbox (Figure 4.9).

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 New mail indicators

View file attachments

Although email isn't the most effective delivery mechanism for sending files, people frequently attach documents to messages. Mail on the iPad does a good job of handling the most common types of files you're likely to encounter, such as images, PDF files, and Microsoft Word, among others.

A file attachment is included in the body of a message (Figure 4.10, on the next page). The appearance of the attachment depends on the file's type and size:

  • Images generally appear unaltered, as long as Mail can preview the format.
  • Large files are not automatically downloaded, and appear with a dotted outline and generic download icon.
  • A file that Mail cannot display within the message body shows up as an icon containing the file name and size.
Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10 File attachments

To preview or open an attachment, do the following:

  1. Tap the icon to see a full screen preview (if Mail can read it), which Apple calls Quick Look.
  2. In the preview, tap the Open In button in the upper-right corner of the screen. A popover lists which apps can work with the file; tap one to launch the app and open the file. (If the button doesn't appear, there is no software installed that can read the file.)

You can also access those options directly without first viewing the Quick Look preview. Touch and hold the icon until a popover appears with options to open in a compatible app or to choose another (Figure 4.11).

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 Choose how to view or open the attachment.

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