Software & Web Development

How to gain easy access to your iPhone's most important mail

Reader Catherine Yee would like easier access to her email. She writes:

Is there a way to make an alias of a mailbox on my iPhone and put it on the home screen so I can access that mailbox more easily? I sometimes need to look back at email I've sent and I hate digging through mailboxes within the Mail app to find it.

I like the way you think. It would be great if, like web clippings, you could place aliases of mailboxes on an iOS device's home screen. But I'm afraid the answer to this one is "Not possible."

However, it sounds to me like you've missed a helpful feature introduced with iOS 7. It's this: Within Mail on a device running iOS 7 you can easily choose which mailboxes to view from within Mail's Mailboxes screen.

To do so, launch Mail, tap the Mailboxes button at the top-left corner of the screen until you get to the main Mailboxes screen. Tap the Edit button in the top-right corner of the screen (or within the Mailboxes pane if you're using an iPad).

When you do this, you'll find that all the mailboxes that normally show above the Accounts area will have a blue checkmark next to them. Below these items will be unchecked items that include Unread, To or CC, Attachments, All Drafts, All Sent, and All Trash. When you tap the empty circle next to one of these items, it will adopt a checkmark and, when you tap Done, you'll find that the mailbox you enabled appears in your default list of mailboxes.

You've likely noticed that there's also an Add Mailbox entry that appears at the bottom of this list when you tap on the Edit button. When you tap Add Mailbox, any email accounts configured on your device will appear--iCloud and Gmail, for example. Tap one and then tap a mailbox within that account and when you tap Done, that mailbox will appear in the list within the Mailboxes screen.

Finally, tapping that Edit button lets you rearrange the order of your mailboxes by dragging the handle next to the mailbox up or down.

I'll grant you that this isn't quite as easy as tapping an alias on the home screen that whisks you directly to a mailbox, but it's not bad. And, unlike with an alias that you might create to access your mail via Safari, your existing mail is available to you even when you don't have an Internet connection.


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