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  1. Using Mail
  2. Sending and Receiving Mail
  3. Using Calendar
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This chapter is from the book

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

Receiving email is dead simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. 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 you launch the Mail app, by default you see the Mailboxes screen (Figure 4.7). This screen contains two sections: Inboxes and Accounts. In the Inboxes section, you see all the email accounts set up on your iPhone, plus the All Inboxes entry, which lets you view all received messages regardless of the accounts they were received from. The Accounts section also lists all email accounts on your iPhone. Next to each entry in both areas is a number that indicates the number of unread messages—Gmail 18, for example.

    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7 The Mail app's Mailboxes screen.

  2. Tap All Inboxes or an account name in the Inboxes section.

    If you tap one of the items in the Inboxes section, you'll be taken to an Inbox screen that displays all the messages in that account's inbox. Messages appear in a list, with the most recently received messages at the top. Unread messages have a blue dot next to them. Messages with attachments bear a paper-clip icon. Threaded messages display a number indicating the number of messages that make up the thread. Finally, the Inbox heading has 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 in the bottom-right corner and a Retrieve icon in the bottom-left corner. Tap Retrieve to check for new mail.

    An Edit button in the top-right corner of the All Inboxes screen lets you delete messages. Tap it, and all the messages in the list acquire a dim gray circle, which marks 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. All the messages you selected move 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 sheet 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.

  3. Tap an account name in the Accounts area.

    You see all the mailboxes that make up that account. For POP accounts, those mailboxes 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 most likely see Inbox, Drafts, Sent, Trash, and any folders associated with the account—folders you've added to a MobileMe or Gmail account, for example.

    These folder names, however, depend entirely on what the host service calls them. Gmail, for example, gathers the messages you've sent into the Sent Mail folder (Figure 4.8).

    Figure 4.8

    Figure 4.8 A Gmail 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

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 4.9).

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 Message body with document attached.

Below that, you'll see From and To fields. Each field displays 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 new screen will appear, offering you the hidden option of emailing the person, creating a new contact, or adding the address to an existing Contacts entry (Figure 4.10).

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10 An unknown contact's Info screen.

Hidden option? Yes. That person's email address is listed next to the Other heading. Tap that email address, and a new email message opens with that person's 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—if you were sent a message from a company address such as, 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 the address is added to that contact. If you'd like to edit the contact—indicate that the address belongs to Home or Work, for example—tap the blue bubble again to bring up the contact's Info screen, tap the Edit button, tap the label (Home, Work, or Other), and choose a different label in the Label screen.

You can hide the To field by tapping the Hide entry near it. This action hides all the To fields in all the messages in all your accounts, and it changes the Hide entry to 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. If you have details showing, you'll also see a Mark as Unread entry. Tap this entry to do exactly what it suggests.

Body talk

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 layer is a different color.

If the message has attachments, they appear below the message text (Figure 4.11). When Cousin Bill sends you a photo from his latest vacation, for example, it'll appear here.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 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 4.11):

  • Retrieve. Tap this circular icon, and the iPhone will check for new messages in 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. (This is one way to move items out of the Trash, though the Trash screen also includes a Move button.)
  • Trash. Tap this icon, and the cute little trash can pops its top and sucks the message into it.
  • Send. The left-arrow icon is your pathway to the Reply, Reply All, Forward, Save Image, and Cancel commands (Figure 4.12). Note that it's unlikely that you'll see all these options in one sheet, because the items that appear depend on the number of recipients and on whether an image is attached.
    Figure 4.12

    Figure 4.12 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 reply to all the recipients of 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 fields appear at the top of the message as quoted text followed by the original message.

    Finally, if a message has images attached to it, you'll see a Save x Images button, where x is the number of images. (The button will read Save Image if there's just one image.) Tap that button, and the attached image(s) 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:

  1. Tap the Compose icon.

    By default, Mail fills the From field with the address for this account. (If you tap the Compose icon in the Mailboxes screen, the message will be sent from the account selected as the default account in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen.) 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.

  2. 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 4.13). If the recipient you want appears in the list below the To field, tap that name to add it to the field.

    Figure 4.13

    Figure 4.13 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 may 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 that person's address and then tap the Delete key on the iPhone's keyboard.

  3. If you'd like to Cc or Bcc someone, tap the appropriate field (Cc or Bcc) and then use any of the techniques in step 2 to add the recipient.
  4. Tap the Subject field, and enter a subject for your message with the iPhone's keyboard (or a Bluetooth keyboard, if you've configured the iPhone to use one).

    That subject replaces New Message at the top of the screen.

  5. Tap inside the message body (or, if the insertion point is in the Subject field, tap Return on the keyboard to move to the message body), and type your message.
  6. 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. You'll know that it's been sent when you hear a swoosh sound (unless you've switched off the Sent Mail sound in the Sounds setting, of course).

    Cancel is a little more confusing. If you've typed anywhere in the To field, the New Message screen's Subject field, or the message body (even if you subsequently deleted everything you typed), a sheet will roll up when you tap Cancel, displaying Delete Draft, Save Draft, and Cancel buttons. Tap Delete Draft to do just that. Tap Save Draft to store the message in the account's Drafts mailbox. (If no such mailbox exists, the iPhone will create one.) If 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, 3G, or EDGE network, for example—it creates 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 $99-per-annum MobileMe Web service does a lot of things—provides 20 GB of online storage; gives you a place to post galleries of images and videos; 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, contacts, calendars, notes, and Internet bookmarks among your computers; your iPhone, iPad touch, and iPad; 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:

  1. Choose Apple > System Preferences.
  2. Click the MobileMe preference in the Internet & Network section and then click the Sync tab.
  3. 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.

  4. 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, Contacts, and Notes (Figure 4.14).

    Figure 4.14

    Figure 4.14 A Mac's MobileMe system preferences.

  5. 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.

    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's 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. Also, you can't sync Outlook notes to or from MobileMe.

To configure MobileMe on a PC, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install MobileMe Setup.

    If you don't have MobileMe installed on your PC, you'll have to get it from

  2. Choose Start > Control Panels.
  3. Open the MobileMe Preferences control panel, and click the Sync tab.
  4. 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.)

  5. 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. Finally, Bookmarks can be synced with Internet Explorer or the Windows version of Apple's Web browser, Safari.

  6. Click Sync Now.

    As with Macintosh syncing, you'll be asked how you'd like to have the sync performed. 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:

  1. Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  2. In the Accounts area, tap your MobileMe account.
  3. In the account screen that appears, switch on those data types that you'd like to sync with MobileMe.

Your choices are Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, and Notes (Figure 4.15 on the next page).

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.15 The iPhone's MobileMe syncing options.

Contacts, calendars, bookmarks, and notes work as I describe earlier in this chapter; when contacts, calendar items, and notes are created, they're synchronized with MobileMe and any computers linked to your MobileMe account (any Mac, in the case of notes; see the nearby sidebar).

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.

Below the syncing options, you see the Find My iPhone switch. This service, exclusive to MobileMe members, can help you track down a missing iPhone. I describe its workings in Chapter 10.

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