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Configure advanced email options on the iPhone

Setting up an iPhone to access your email is very easy and even more so if you are with one of the well known email providers like Yahoo!, Google, Hotmail, iCloud (MobileMe), or AOL. Enter your email address and your password and iOS does the rest, setting all the configuration options. It configures your email account with the default settings and there are lots of different options for customising them. You can make email on the iPhone easier and more useful by tweaking some of the advanced settings. Let's look at email on iOS 6 on the iPhone 5.

I will assume that you have set up your email account and that it is working. What else is there to do?


Go to Settings, Notifications and select Mail. Show determines the number of unread email messages displayed in Notification Center and there is a choice of 1, 5 or 10. Below is a list of all the email accounts that have been set up. There may be just one or half a dozen. For each one, select it and then choose whether to include it in Notification Center. There is an on/off switch and three alert styles - None (show nothing), Banners (show a message at the top of the screen) and Alerts (a pop-up message box you have to tap to dismiss).

Privacy issues

There is also a Show Preview setting that either shows a message preview - the sender and first sentence - in alerts and banners. If you turn this setting on and also set the alert style to Alert, emails are displayed on the screen as they arrive. There is a View in Lock Screen option right down at the bottom of the settings page and you can be alerted to new emails even when the phone is locked and the screen is off. This is a privacy issue and some people will like being notified, but be aware that someone else could read your messages if you leave your phone lying around, well, they can read the sender and first line anyway.

Sounds and vibrations

Select New Mail Sound and scroll to the top of page where you will find a Vibration setting. Do you want the iPhone to vibrate every time you receive an email? There is also a None alert tone. The iPhone can silently display alerts when an email arrives or it can vibrate and play a sound. It's your choice.

VIP settings

Return to Settings, Notifications, Mail and in addition to your email accounts, there is a VIP section. The options are the same as for email accounts, so you can include VIPs in Notification Center, set the alert style, sound, vibration and lock screen display.

VIP is like a search/filter and it displays messages from only people the you tag as VIPs. It is easier to see important messages when you have a zillion emails in your inbox. Start the Mail app and in the top level screen, Mailboxes, tap VIP and then Add VIP. Your contacts are displayed and you can select a person to add to the VIP list.

Push vs fetch

Go to Settings and then Mail, Contacts, Calendars. Select Fetch New Data. It is good to set Push to On. Push means that as soon as your email provider receives an email it sends it straight to your iPhone. If Push is set to Off then emails are stored on the email server until you next go onine and manually check your inbox for new messages.

Push is much more useful, but not all mail services support it. That's why you will see Fetch settings below. For services that don't support push, the iPhone wll go online every 15, 30 or 60 minutes and check for new messages. Select the update freqency you want. Note that checking every 15 minutes will use more bandwidth than checking every hour, so bear this in mind if you have a data limit on your mobile phone contract. (When you have a WiFi connection you won't use any of your data allowance.)

Down at the bottom of the screen is Advanced. Select it and your email accounts are listed. Select each one in turn and there are Push, Fetch and Manual options for them. You could, for example, set a work email account to Push (it it is supported of course) so that you get important emails straight away, but set a personal email account to check once every hour or even set it to Manual because it's not so vital. On the Manual setting the iPhone checks for messages only when you run the Mail app.

Set your signature

Back at the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings screen, scroll down a little and select Signature. By default, Mail adds 'Sent from my iPhone' to new email messages or replies and you might want to replace this with your own message. For example, you could replace it with your name, job title and company contact details, or your favourite quote.

The default account

If you have added two or more email accounts to your iPhone and you create and send an email, which account is it sent from? In Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings is Default Account. Select it and then select the email account you want the message to be sent from.

If you open the Mail app, select an email account and then create a new email, the message is sent from that account. The default applies if you send an email from elsewhere, such as if you click the Share icon in Safari to email a link to the current page.

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