The iPhone Pocket Guide: Mail and Calendar
Portable email is a real boon, and so is knowing where you're supposed to be from one minute to the next. To help with the latter, the iPhone includes a Calendar application that lets you sync your schedule with your Mac or Windows PC, as well as create calendar events on the go. In this chapter, I explain the ins and outs of both applications.
Mail is a real email client, much like the one you use on your computer. With it, you can send and receive email messages, as well as send and receive a limited variety of email attachments. Thanks to iOS 4, you can view mail from all the email accounts set up on your phone in a single unified inbox. If you have MobileMe, Google, and Yahoo email accounts, for example, you can launch the Mail app; tap the All Inboxes entry; and see all the messages you've received, regardless of which of these three accounts they were sent to.
The Mail app also lets you send photos or videos you've taken with your iPhone, as well as receive and play such audio attachments as MP3, AAC, WAV, and AIFF. You can view received JPEG graphics, text files, and HTML files; Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents; iWork Pages, Keynote, and Numbers files; and Adobe PDF documents. As you can on the iPad, you can choose to edit some attachments with a third-party app (DataViz's Documents To Go, for example). You do this by tapping the attachment and then, in the sheet that appears, selecting the third-party editing app. The attachment opens in that app, ready for viewing and editing.
Mail on the iPhone is limited in some other ways:
- Unlike all modern computer-based email clients, the iPhone has no spam filter and no feature for managing mailing lists.
- You can't flag messages or apply rules that allow Mail to sort or copy certain messages (those from a particular sender, for example) to specific mailboxes.
- Speaking of mailboxes, you can't create new mailboxes on the iPhone, either. Instead, you must create them on your computer or on the Web, and you can do so only with IMAP accounts; they'll appear in Mail after you sync the mail accounts on your computer with the iPhone.
The iPhone is capable of sending and receiving email over a Wi-Fi connection and a carrier's 3G and EDGE networks. Other than the speed of sending and receiving messages, there's no significant difference between running Mail over these networks. Note, however, that there's a big difference if you're using your phone overseas. Wi-Fi costs nothing extra, but carriers impose punitive roaming charges for using 3G and EDGE (for email or anything else) outside their coverage areas.
Now that you know what Mail can and can't do, you're ready to look at how to use it.
Creating an account
When you first synced your iPhone to your computer, you were asked whether you wanted to synchronize your email accounts to the phone. If you chose to do so, your iPhone is nearly ready to send and receive messages. All you may have to do now is enter a password for your email account in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Rather than start in the middle, with a nearly configured account, I'll start at the beginning so that you can follow the iPhone's account-setup procedure from start to finish. In the next few pages, I examine how to configure Microsoft Exchange accounts, Web-based accounts (MobileMe, Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL), and IMAP and POP accounts.
Configuring an Exchange account
Let me take care of corporate readers first by outlining the steps necessary to create an Exchange account:
- Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
- Tap Add Account (located in the Accounts list).
- In the resulting screen, tap Microsoft Exchange to open an Exchange screen.
Enter your email address, user name, password, and a description (perhaps along the lines of Company Email).
Your IT department or manager should be able to provide this info.
The iPhone attempts to connect to the Exchange server.
If the connection is successful, you're pretty well set. If it isn't, another Exchange screen asks for the same information you provided in step 4, as well as the server address. Again, the Exchange server administrator should be able to give you this information. The address in question here is the address of the front-end server—the one that greets your iPhone when it attempts to connect to the company server.
When this information is configured properly, the iPhone attempts to log on to the server via a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection. If it can't do so, it tries a nonsecure connection.
- When you're prompted to choose the kinds of data—Mail, Contacts, or Calendars—that you want to synchronize between your iPhone and the Exchange server, flick the switches for those data types to On (Figure 4.1).
Figure 4.1 Choose the kind of data you want to sync with the Exchange server.
By default, the iPhone synchronizes just three days' worth of email. If you need to store more email on your iPhone, select your Exchange account in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen; tap Mail Days to Sync; and choose a new number of days' worth of email to synchronize. Your options are No Limit, 1 Day, 3 Days, 1 Week, 2 Weeks, and 1 Month.
Configuring MobileMe, Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL accounts
The iPhone's designers made configuring one of these accounts really easy. Just follow these steps:
- Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
- Tap Add Account.
- In the Add Account screen, choose your account type (MobileMe, Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL).
- In the screen that appears next, enter your name, the email address for this account, your account's password, and a descriptive name for the account (My Mighty MobileMe Account, for example).
- Tap Save.
Unlike its practice with other kinds of accounts, the iPhone doesn't demand settings for incoming and outgoing mail servers. It's intimately familiar with these services and does all that configuration for you. But you're welcome to muck with these more-arcane settings after you create the account, if you like (and I tell you how in the "Configuring further" section later in this chapter).
Configuring IMAP and POP accounts
Email accounts generally come in one of two flavors: IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) or POP (Post Office Protocol). Very loosely defined, with an IMAP account, your messages are stored on a server "in the cloud." By contrast, although a POP account transfers messages from a server, those messages are stored locally on your computer. The iPhone supports both kinds of accounts.
If you're like a lot of people and have an email account through a "regular" Internet service provider (ISP), such as one that provides email via a DSL or cable broadband connection, you'll configure your iPhone this way:
- Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
- Tap Add Account.
In the next screen, tap Other.
I ask you to tap Other because this option lets you set up email accounts for ISPs other than those listed above the Other entry. In the resulting screen, you have the option to add mail accounts (as well as server-based contacts and calendars, which I deal with later in this chapter).
Tap Add Mail Account.
In the resulting New Account screen, enter the information for setting up a POP or IMAP account.
- Tap Name, and enter your real name (as opposed to your user name).
- Tap Address, and enter your email address (such as example@ examplemail.com).
- Tap Password, and enter the account's password.
Tap Description, and enter a description of your account.
I often use the name of my account for this entry—Macworld, for example.
Tap Save to save your settings.
The iPhone looks up the account settings you've entered. If you've set up an account for a common email carrier, such as Comcast or AT&T, it checks your account and configures the server settings for you.
If the iPhone can't configure your account, or if the ISP offers IMAP and POP accounts and doesn't know which kind you have, the New Account screen displays new options.
Choose IMAP or POP.
At the top of the screen, you see IMAP and POP buttons. Tap the appropriate button for the kind of account you have.
Enter the host name in the Incoming Mail Server area.
This information, provided by your ISP, is in the format mail.examplemail.com.
Tap User Name, and enter the name that precedes the at (@) symbol in your email address.
If the address is firstname.lastname@example.org, for example, type bruno.
- Tap Password, and enter the password for your email account.
- Below Outgoing Mail Server, tap Host Name; then enter the appropriate text—which, once again, will be provided by your ISP, typically in the format smtp.examplemail.com.
Enter your user name and password again, if required.
If these fields aren't filled in for you, copy this information from the Incoming Mail Server fields and paste it in here.
When you've double-checked to make sure everything's correct, tap Next in the top-right corner of the screen.
Your iPhone will attempt to make a connection to your ISP using the settings you entered. If it can't make a successful connection, it will tell you so via a dialog box or two. To continue, you must enter settings that the iPhone will accept. When you do, the phone returns to the Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen, where the configured account appears in the list of accounts (Figure 4.2).
Figure 4.2 Configured POP email account.
Most people can stop right here and get on with mucking with Mail, but your email account may require a little extra tweaking for it to work. Here's how to do just that:
- Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
- Tap your account name in the resulting screen, and if you'd like that account to appear in Mail's Accounts list, be sure that the Account slider is set to On.
- Verify that the information in the account's settings fields is correct; if not, tap the field you want to edit and start typing.
- Tap the SMTP button to configure the outgoing server for your email account (see the sidebar "Out and About" later in this chapter for details).
- Tap the Advanced button at the bottom of the screen.
- In the resulting Advanced screen for POP accounts (Figure 4.3), choose the settings you want.
Figure 4.3 A POP account's Advanced settings.
Use these settings to specify the following:
- The interval the iPhone will wait before it removes deleted messages from the Trash (Never, After One Day, After One Week, or After One Month)
- Whether your account will use SSL protection to transmit and receive email
- The kind of authentication your account requires (Password, MD5 Challenge-Response, NTLM, or HTTP MD5 Digest)
- When you want email to be deleted from the server (Never, Seven Days, or When Removed from Inbox)
- The incoming server port for your account
This information is individual enough that I'll leave it to your IT or ISP representative to tell you how to configure these options. Worth noting, however, is that you may be able to suss out these settings by looking at how the email client on your computer is configured.
For IMAP accounts, you have some different options in the Advanced window. You can choose which mailboxes will hold drafts, sent email, and deleted messages. You can choose when to remove deleted messages. You can also turn SSL on or off (except for Yahoo Mail, which doesn't offer an SSL option). You can choose the same authentication schemes as your POP-using sisters and brothers. You can enter an IMAP path prefix—a path name required by some IMAP servers so that they can show folders properly. Finally, you can change the incoming server port.
Understanding Mail, Contacts, Calendars behavior
Before I leave the Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen, I should examine the options that tell the Mail, Contacts, and Calendar applications how to behave (Figure 4.4).
Figure 4.4 Additional Mail settings.
View the bottom part of the screen, and you find these options below the Mail heading:
Fetch New Data. Thanks to the Exchange and MobileMe support in the iPhone 2.0 and later software, new data such as events, contacts, notes (new with iOS 4), and email can be transferred (or pushed) to your phone automatically. You don't have to tell the iPhone to retrieve this data; retrieval just happens. When you tap Fetch New Data, you're taken to the screen of the same name, where you can switch push off (Figure 4.5).
Figure 4.5 The Fetch New Data screen.
Additionally, you find Fetch settings here. Fetch is essentially a scheduler for your iPhone; it tells the phone how often to go out and get information such as email messages from an account that can't push email, such as a POP account. (Fetch can also retrieve data from services such as MobileMe and Yahoo that push data but for which you've turned push off.) You can configure the iPhone to fetch data every 15 or 30 minutes, hourly, or manually.
If you tap the Advanced button at the bottom of the screen, you're taken to an Advanced screen, where you can determine how your various email accounts behave with regard to pushing and fetching. You can configure a MobileMe or Yahoo account with a Push, Fetch, or Manual option, for example. Accounts that don't support push can be configured only for Fetch or Manual.
- Show. How many messages would you like Mail to display? Options include 25, 50, 75, 100, and 200 recent messages.
- Preview. When you view message subjects within a mailbox in one of your Mail accounts, you see the first bit of text in each message. The Preview entry determines how many lines of this text you'll see: none, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 lines.
- Minimum Font Size. This setting determines the size of the text in your email messages: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, or Giant. (Medium is good for most eyes, and it saves a lot of scrolling.)
- Show To/Cc Label. When this option is set to on, Mail plasters To next to messages that were sent directly to you and Cc next to messages on which you were copied.
- Ask Before Deleting. When you switch this option on, if you tap the Trash icon to delete the message you're reading, you'll be asked to confirm your decision. If you swipe a message and then tap the red Delete button that appears or use the iPhone's bulk-delete option, however, you won't be asked for confirmation.
- Load Remote Images. Like the email client on your computer, the iPhone is capable of automatically showing you images embedded in messages. By default, this option is on. If you routinely retrieve mail over a slow EDGE connection, however, you might consider turning this option off so that your phone won't have to work to download the extra data.
- Organize By Thread. With iOS 4, the iPhone can organize email messages by thread. If you (or a group of people) engage in a back-and-forth email conversation with the local taxidermist, with all emails using the same Subject heading, and this option is switched on, you'll see a single entry for that conversation in your inbox. A number on the right side of that entry indicates how many messages are part of the thread.
- Always Bcc Myself. If you're the kind of person who wants a copy of every message you send (but don't want the recipients of those messages to know), switch this option on. You'll get your copies.
- Signature. Ever wonder where that proud Sent from My iPhone message comes from—the one that appears at the bottom of every message you send from your iPhone? Right here. As a new iPhone owner, you'll want to stick with this default message for a while, simply for the bragging rights. When the novelty has worn off, feel free to tap this option and enter some pithy signoff of your own.
- Default Account. If you have more than one email account set up, this setting determines which account will send photos, videos, notes, and YouTube links. When you send one of these items, you can't choose which account sends it, so give this option some thought. You may discover that Wi-Fi hotspots are reluctant to send mail through your regular ISP's SMTP server, whereas Gmail accounts rarely have this problem. For this reason, you may want to make your Gmail account the default.
These Contacts settings appear next (Figure 4.6):
Figure 4.6 Additional Contacts and Calendar settings.
- Sort Order. Tap this option to choose between sorting contacts by First, Last name or by Last, First name.
- Display Order. Similar to Sort Order, this option lets you display your contacts as either First, Last or Last, First.
Import SIM Contacts. Two mobile-phone standards are used in the United States: GSM and CDMA. The iPhone follows the GSM standard, and like all GSM phones, it uses a SIM card to store user data. If you have another GSM phone that contains stored contacts on its SIM card, you may be able to import those contacts from that card. Currently, however, that's a big may. The iPhone 4 uses a micro SIM card—a smaller card that's not commonly used in other phones (though it's likely to be in the future).
If you have an iPhone earlier than the iPhone 4, or if micro SIM cards are commonplace by the time you read this book, turn off both phones, extract the SIM card from the other phone, plunk it into your iPhone, and choose this command. Any contacts on that SIM card will be imported into your iPhone. If you have MobileMe and Exchange contacts on the phone, you'll be prompted to choose which of the two accounts to add them to.
Finally, you see these Calendar settings at the bottom of the screen:
- New Invitation Alerts. This On/Off switch lets you view—or not—meeting invitations you've received (those pushed to you from an Exchange server, for example).
- Sync. This option lets you choose a range of past events to sync with your iPhone. Choices include Events 2 Weeks Back, 1 Month Back, 3 Months Back, 6 Months Back, and All Events.
- Time Zone Support. Tap this command, and you're taken to the Time Zone Support screen, where you can turn Time Zone Support on or off. Below that setting is an option to choose the time zone of a major city. When Time Zone Support is on, Calendar's events are shown in the time of the selected city. So, for example, you could choose London even if you're in San Francisco and see events in London time. Switch this option off, and events are shown in the phone's current location (which is determined by network time).
- Default Calendar. Tap this command to choose a calendar where the iPhone will add events created outside the Calendar application.