Email emphasizes some members of Generation Z and others who favor the urgency of chat apps over a full inbox. But the older electronic postal system still has its fans, who may prefer its slowness – or its usefulness for composing long messages, delivering file attachments, and organizing digital paper trails. Many apps include shortcuts to streamline mail handling, so if you frequently plow into your inbox on your phone, here are some time savers for Google’s Gmail and Apple’s iOS Mail.
Set your swipes
Quickly filing or dumping messages allows you to instantly take command of your inbox – and you can do so with your thumb, thanks to the “swipe” controls in the mail application. For example, you can assign one action (such as “flag”) to the left swipe and select another (such as “archive”) for your right swipe. And delete is always an option.
In the Gmail app for Android, tap the menu icon in the upper-left corner, select Settings from the list and select Swipe Actions. Tap the Change button to select an action for both left and right swipe motion. The iOS version uses different terms but the same steps.
To set your swipe actions in iOS Mail, tap the Settings icon on the iPhone’s home screen, select Mail, and then select Swipe Options. Select the action you want to assign to the swipe left and swipe right functions.
Want to delete a set of messages at once? In Gmail, tap the icon next to each unwanted message in the inbox, and then tap the trash icon. In iOS Mail, first tap the Edit button, then select Messages and tap Trash in the lower-right corner of the screen.
Screen your mail
Your phone’s notification settings can tell you when a new mail arrives. If you want a different way of viewing recent messages, you can add a mail widget to your home screen.
On most phones running Android 9 or later, press the blank area of the home screen until the Widgets menu appears. Select the Gmail or other mail widget you want to use, then slide it to where you want it on the home screen.
On an iPhone running iOS 14 or later, press your finger on the blank area of the home screen (or today screen) until the icons start moving, then tap the + button in the upper-left corner. In the Search Widgets box, enter “Mail”, which brings up the option for iOS Mail – or Gmail, if you use it; Note that sometimes, widgets are Phoenician. Make your selection, and then tap the Add Widget button on the next screen.
In iOS Mail, you can long press the inbox preview to see more messages and get the action menu to reply, forward or flag it.
Be careful in business
This is a good opportunity to manage your mail while you are waiting for a meeting (or other event). Most mail apps offer a number of productivity features.
In the new Gmail message, tap the paper clip icon at the top of the screen to add a photo or file-like attachment stored on your Google Drive. You can tap on a newly received message in the three-dot more menu and add it to your Google Tasks to-do list. Do you want to respect office hours and set a message to send at a later time? After you compose the text, tap the More menu in the upper right corner of the screen and select Send Schedule.
To add an attachment to Apple’s iOS Mail app, start a new message and tap the space where you want to insert the file. On the toolbar that appears on the keyboard, tap the icon for the type of file you want to attach; Apple’s mail drop feature can send attachments as large as 5 megabytes using its iCloud service. Tap the square icon to the right of the camera icon to scan the new document and attach it to the message. Need to critique that file or sign the form? Tap the pen icon to mark it onscreen with the stylus or finger taro.
Leave those lists
The main cause of inbox overload may be the constant flow of mailing-list messages from organizations and merchants. If you decide you no longer wish to continue reading (or deleting) these messages, scroll down to the bottom of the message and look for a link to unsubscribe or change your email preferences. Most legitimate companies include these options.
The iOS Mail app often displays an unsubscribe button at the top of the mailing-list message. Tap the button and confirm your intention to leave the list – and let your inbox manage a little more.