#iPadOnly book » Section 3 - There's an app for that! » Chapter 16 - Email

Chapter 16 - Email

How touching your mail works on the iPad.

Email is a necessary evil. You may like it or not. You may process it or not. You can run from it, but you cannot hide. Many people run and hope that it never catches up with them, but it always does.

Augusto on Email

“I have been reading and processing email on a mobile phone for a long time, going back to the day when I got my Palm Treo. When I got my first iPhone I considered that an improvement over how my old Treo had handled email. Next, I was honestly surprised how nice it was to process email on the iPad. When I went #iPadOnly, I also re-formatted my MacBook. When that happened I decided to only install and configure things as needed. I found I never needed to configure email on my MacBook. I process all email from the iPad.”

Michael on Email

“The notion that you could ‘touch your email’ was very appealing to me when I got my first iPhone; even more so with the iPad. Honestly, I wasn’t convinced the built-in Mail application would be sufficient for the daily email workload, but it was.”

Email is tough

Working with email it is a matter of workflow. If you are resisting email, you may need to study your email workflow and see how you can improve it. We don’t love email, but we have come to like working with email on the iPad over the Mac or the iPhone without any doubt.

Augusto turned off email completely on his iPhone. He realized that email on his phone was more of a distraction, and now he processes it only on the iPad.

We both use the standard, built-in Mail app on the iPad. It gets the job done, is decent and fast. We both use Gmail for email. It has a great spam filter and a fantastic web app when you’re using it on the desktop. We take advantage of the Gmail’s support of the IMAP protocol to configure it with the native Apple’s Mail application.

How to find an email with Gmail app

There is only one reason we have the native Gmail application installed on the iPad. Search. If you are in Gmail you can use it whenever you want to find an email message from the past. We are aware that the Mail app also has a search feature, but it’s slow and cumbersome due to the limitations of the IMAP protocol, whereas the search in the Gmail app is almost instantaneous. It is not every day that we need to search for past emails, but it is worth it to have that app. The time it saves you is enough to recommend installing it.

Multiple ‘from’ addresses

Michael used to have a trick for that, now it’s built in iOS7 and beyond:

“Although the iPad’s settings let you set up your Gmail account automatically, I didn’t choose this option. Instead, I set up my email through IMAP. It’s a little more complicated to set up as you need to input the addresses of the IMAP server (imap.gmail.com) and SMTP server (smtp.gmail.com) but it gives you a cool trick - you can set up several ‘from fields’. If you have several ‘from’ addresses set up in Gmail, you can use them all directly in Apple’s mail. In iOS6 and earlier, you’d have to write all of these addresses in one line separated with a comma, but in iOS7 you can simply add several from addresses through the Mail Settings panel. Later, if I compose a new message I can use a drop-down list to choose which email address I want to appear on my sent email. It gets even better. Mail remembers which addresses you’ve been using to send your messages to particular people. This way when I compose a new message to my mom, it knows to use my private ‘from’ email address. When I send something to a business partner, it uses my work email address. Brilliant and smart.”

Horizontal view and vertical view

Once again, we’d like to highlight the versatility of the horizontal and vertical views. We both process email with the iPad set horizontally (Landscape mode), with the list of emails on the left and the current email message on the right. When we want to focus on an email message, we simply flip the iPad vertically (Portrait mode) and read the message without any distractions. It is this kind flexibility that can’t be replicated on a laptop.

More on email from Michael:

“For email processing in horizontal mode, I rarely have my external keyboard attached. I use the iPad with the smart cover to support it. I’m accustomed to writing short replies so I simply tap them away on the on-screen keyboard. When I have a few longer emails to write I put my iPad in vertical mode docked in the Logitech’s Ultrathin keyboard and focus on writing. Again, processing on the iPad makes working through email so much fun.”

More on email from Augusto:

“I rarely process email from my desk. Most of the time, I move to a couch or other comfortable place. I type fast enough on the onscreen keyboard that if I have a short answer I can type it there. If the email requires a longer reply, I’ll wait until I finish processing the rest of my emails and then process it from my desk. I read email in landscape mode. I only check email if I think I can read and process them all. I try to avoid just reading email, it is the reason I have email on the iPhone turned off. I discovered that on the iPhone I was mostly ‘checking’ but it is on the iPad that I was ‘processing’ email.”

Email ‘gateways’

As we mentioned in earlier chapters, many apps like Evernote, TripIt, Pocket, Instapaper, Nozbe and more, assign you an individual email address for use within each app. This allows you to add these ‘app email addresses’ as contacts to your iPad and later forward the appropriate emails to the appropriate app (notes to Evernote, tasks to Nozbe, airline tickets to TripIt, articles to Pocket, etc.). This seemingly small tip will have a remarkable effect on your iPad productivity.

More Email apps

There are many new email apps available to the iPhone and the iPad. These more focused apps allow us, finally, to improve our ‘email processing workflow’ and get to the mystical ‘Inbox Zero’.

Apps like Mailbox, Triage and others help us manage email and develop good habits. This is what gets us excited with the iOS platform and the #iPadOnly way: there always is ‘an app for that’ and that better email apps are just round the corner and will keep appearing on the platform.

Suffice to say, the iPad is a very powerful, versatile email machine and enables you to really ‘touch your email’.

Next Chapter: Chapter 17 - Communication

Back to the Table of Contents