Apple’s Mail App Is Actually Useful Now: 10 Things to Try


Apple has slowly but surely enhanced its Mail app over the last few years. Recent OS updates have introduced new formatting options, added the ability to include scans and other attachments, and beefed up the Reply menu.

For iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, Apple finally introduced a way to change the default mail app on your device. Now, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 bring new privacy features to better protect your mail account. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of Apple Mail on your mobile device.

First, make sure you’ve updated your device, so you can take advantage of all the latest features. Go to Settings > General > Software Update. You’ll be told that the OS is up to date or be prompted to download and install the latest update.

Protect Your Mail Activity

By default, companies and advertisers that send you email can obtain certain information about your activity in the Mail app. For example, they can determine if and when you read a specific email, and even determine your location. However, Apple’s new Protect Mail Activity privacy feature can stop this.

If enabled, this feature hides your device’s IP address and loads remote content from an email message privately in the background. To turn on this feature, you must be running iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, or higher. Go to Settings > Mail > Privacy Protection and turn on the switch for Protect Mail Activity.

Hide Your Email Address

Available only with a paid iCloud+ subscription, Hide My Email lets you register with apps and websites using an anonymous and randomized Apple ID. The goal is to reduce the amount of spam that your actual email address gets when you sign up for different online accounts. To use Hide My Email, you must be running  iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, or higher.

Open Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Hide My Email to see all the random addresses you may have already used with Apple’s older Sign in with Apple feature. Tap an address you want to use again to hide your real email address, then confirm that the random address is forwarding to your actual address.

You can also tap the Create New Address link to generate a new random address. If you’re OK with the suggested address, tap Continue. If not, tap Use Different Address to find another address. After you’ve settled on one, enter a label and any notes to help you remember where it has been used. Then tap Done.

The next time you need to create an account to access a website or fill out an online form, use your random address. Any emails generated through this account get forwarded to your actual address.

You can always deactivate the anonymous address if you start receiving spam. Go back to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Hide My Email and select the random address. Tap Deactivate Email Address, then tap Deactivate to confirm your request.

Change Fonts and Formats

The Mail app makes it easy to change the formatting of your emails. If you’re composing a new email, tap into the body of your message and tap the arrow icon at the right of the predictive text bar. You will then have a variety of icons that can help you customize your email.

If you tap the Aa icon, you can open the app’s Formatting menu. You will be able to apply attributes like bold, italics, underline, and strikethrough. Tap the small A or large A to make the font bigger or smaller, the circular palette icon to change the color of the text, and Default Font to select a new font.

The formatting menu also allows you to align the current paragraph left, center, or right and add bullets or numbering. You can tap the icon with the right arrow and four horizontal lines to indent the entire paragraph or tap the icon with the left arrow to outdent the paragraph. Indent your current paragraph with vertical quote lines by tapping the icon with three vertical lines, or outdent your current paragraph by tapping the icon with one vertical line.

Add Photos and Files

Tap the picture icon on the keyboard toolbar to add photos or videos from your library. Your photo thumbnails display in the lower half of the screen so you can still see your email. Swipe up on your photo gallery to see more images. Tap the photo or video you want to add, and it’s inserted into your message.

Tap the camera icon in the keyboard toolbar to snap a picture or video to insert in your message. Tap the file icon to access the Files app, where you can insert a document, image, or other file from any of your online services. Tap the scan icon in the toolbar and you can scan a printed document, then add it to your email.

Use Markup Tools

Need to mark up an image or document? Tap the pen icon in the keyboard toolbar to access markup tools for your attached media. You can then select different drawing tools to draw, write notes, or highlight words over the existing media.

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Access the Reply Menu

Open an email to which you want to reply and tap the Reply icon in the lower right. You will be given a variety of commands that let you reply to, reply to all, forward, or archive the message. Other options let you flag the message as important, mark it as unread, move it to a specific folder, or move it to the Junk folder and mark it as spam.

Stop receiving notifications for a specific message thread by tapping the Mute button, or tap the Notify Me option if you want to be alerted to any follow-up messages. Tap the Print icon to print out the email.

Tap Into Pop-Up Commands

Apple Mail has a pop-up command menu that appears if you press down on an email. It offers specific quick actions, allowing you to reply, reply all, forward, mute, move, delete, and more.

Block a Sender

No longer wish to receive emails from a certain contact? Block them. Open an unwanted email and tap the name of the sender. Tap the Block this Contact link, then tap Block this Contact again in the confirmation message. If you ever change your mind, tap Unblock this Contact.

Select Multiple Emails

The Mail app also provides an easy way to select a batch of messages. Tap the Edit button at the top right of the inbox, then tap the circle next to the messages you wish to select. You can also select multiple messages by swiping across the circles you wish to select.

Tap Edit > Select All to choose all the messages in the folder. Once your selections have been made, you can mark, move, or delete/archive all the selected messages in one shot.

Change the Default Mail App

However, if you’re still not crazy about the Mail app, Apple makes it easy to set a new default. Go to Settings and select the app you wish to use as the default, such as Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo Mail. Tap the setting for Default Mail App and change it to the app of your choice.

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