Up until iOS 6, I’d considered Apple’s mobile Mail app merely adequate for my needs. Now, it’s moved into not-half-bad territory. Here’s a rundown of my experiences using the new features of the Mail app, which will be available to everyone when iOS 6 rolls out Wednesday.


Mail is probably the app I use the most on my iOS devices. It’s where I triage my email and send responses that require immediate attention. I can’t check any personal email on my work computer, so my iPhone is called upon to do some heavy lifting. Up until iOS 6, I’d considered it merely adequate for my needs. Now, it’s moved into not-half-bad territory.

Below is a rundown of my experiences with the new features of the app, which will be available to everyone with iOS 6, which is scheduled to roll out later on Wednesday.

The VIP mailbox

The VIP mailbox is the new feature of Mail that I use the most. It’s a way to flag a contacts as VIPs and have their emails show up in the special VIP section in Mail as well as Notification Center. This is handy when I have my iPhone docked at work and when a VIP email is received, Notification Center will pop up with the preview of the email.

To turn on the VIP mailbox, go to Settings, Notification Center, Mail, VIP. From there you can set how the VIP notifications are displayed.

To set a contact as a VIP, tap on their name in Mail. That will bring up the Sender page, and from there, tap on Add to VIP.

You can then read your VIP mails by going to the VIP area under All Inboxes in the Mail sidebar.

For the most part I’m happy with the VIP flag. It’s a good way to quickly find and read emails from crucial contacts.

Mail Flagging

In Microsoft Outlook, I’m a big fan of flagging items. I’m not big on Inbox Zero, but I use the Mark for Followup flag to tag emails that contain requests I need to act upon. A version of that concept makes its appearance in Mail, albeit just to flag items or mark them as unread. To Flag an item, in the message itself there is a flag button in the lower left-hand corner. Tapping that will let you set flagged or unread status.

It’s not a feature I use every day — fortunately, not many of my non-day job emails are actionable. I have found, however, that it’s a great tool to remind me of a form I need to fill out when I get home. Which reminds me, I have a form flagged.

Easier sending of photos and video

Every Friday night I get together with a group of friends. Usually leading up to this event there is a significant amount of trash talking and sending of mostly juvenile pictures we’ve found on the internet to make our point. Now with Mail, right from the email I’m replying to I can tap as if I’m trying to copy text, tap on the arrow on the right-hand side of the selection pop-up, and then choose “Insert Photo or Video” from there, I can see my available albums and choose an image from there.

What I’d still like to see from Mail

While I like the new additions to Mail, I’m never satisfied. One thing I’d like to see added is creating a calendar event or reminder right from Mail. I know Mail is smart enough to try and create an event if it sees “this Friday” in an email, but I’d like to be able to tap on a button and create an event or reminder with the body of the text included. While unlikely, I’d also love if Mail could see which documents I had in the Cloud and let me send the email from within Mail. This way, if an editor sends me a note asking for another copy of an article, I’d like to be able to reply to that email and send the attachment from iCloud.

Overall, though, iOS 6 Mail has some nice features that should help you be more productive with your mail workflow.

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  1. For me, e biggest thing here is being able to attach something to an email directly from the composition window. I really don’t see why it took so long to implement such a rudimentary feature.

    1. Agreed. it was what I waiting for!

    2. You can. Just hold down in the blank area of email and wait for the select menu. Click the right arrow. Insert “photo or video” is now an option.

  2. Thanks for the information..curious though, what is that little icon that looks like a moon next to the time on the status bar?

    1. It’s the do not disturb indicator. You can set times where received alerts / calls will be silent if the phone is locked. When the phone is currently scheduled as “do not disturb” the moon icon will show

  3. For me, flagging messages worked in iOS5 but only works for iCloud email in iOS6, is this not the case for others? I have gmail, exchange, and icloud, only icoud allows flagging, they all show the flag but the only option on all other than icloud is mark unread.

    1. Gustavo Adolfo Lopez Urrea Corey Wednesday, September 19, 2012

      For me it works on iCloud and with may Exchange’s work account; doesn’t work anymore with gmail do.

      1. Maybe it’s just another stab at google then because my “exchange” account are actually google apps accounts set up as exchange.

      2. Actually flagging does not work on exchange created (gmail) on my iphone 5, ios6. Flagging does work on an native gmail created account however. I just tried this tonight-

  4. My biggest gripe with the mail app is that you can’t have different signatures for your multiple accounts when sending…

    1. iOS 6 allows this

  5. I often skim quickly through mail on my iPhone, deleting unimportant emails and marking as unread ones that need somewhat detailed follow-up (the kind that I’d rather do on a computer with a real keyboard). In iOS5, that was a single click procedure, but with iOS6 it’s a two click procedure. Not the end of the world, but it is an annoyance.

  6. Volume Cellular Inc. Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    I’ve been using iOS 6 for a while, my biggest gripe is why no unread inbox? They have one for VIP and one for flagged, would unread have been such a big deal?

  7. I am really waiting for Apple or a third party app to be able to create a calendar event from an email.

  8. No flags for Gmail……FAIL!!!!

    1. You can flag on gmail accts in the apple mail app. I did several tonight.

  9. Trying to figure out if you can flag an email in OSX and have it pop up in your flagged folder on IOS 6 – you would think yes, but so far it’s not working . . .

    1. that’s strange and non-user-friendly

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