The Holy Grail of Email

Holy-Grail-Email

One of the greatest features of the iPad is the way it revolutionized the email experience. The iPad makes email convenient and fun. By freeing yourself from having to view emails from behind a desk or a tiny cell phone screen, email no longer feels like a chore. Instead of having to open an application on your computer, or log onto a website, your email is always on and alerts you when you have a new message.

Let’s explore the iPad’s native mail application that came preloaded on your iPad. We’ll learn how to setup all your email accounts, get instant alerts every time you get a new email, and even discuss some tips and tricks to get the most out of your email.

Mail: More Than Just An Email Client
To launch the Mail application, simply hit the envelope icon labeled “Mail,” which by default is located in the dock at the bottom of your iPad’s screen.

Interestingly, the Mail app’s appearance depends on orientation of the iPad. When holding the iPad in landscape mode, you are presented with a list of all of the messages in your mailbox running along the left hand section, with a pane over on the right that reveals the contents of the email (see above image). Touching any email displayed in the left hand pane will instantly display that particular email in the right hand pane.

When holding the iPad in portrait mode, however, the list of emails in your mailbox is hidden, as you are presented with a full screen view of the last email you clicked on, as you can see in the below screenshot. To display a new message, select another email by opening the “All Inboxes” icon.

When in both portrait and landscape mode, four icons are displayed in the top right corner of the screen. The furthest icon on the right allows you to compose a new message. Then, moving along to the left, you have: reply (including reply all, forward, print), delete (or archive, if you’re using a Google Mail account), and then move (which moves selected email to a different mailbox).

The Mail app lets you choose which of your email accounts you want to browse. If you hit the “Mailboxes” icon located in the top left corner when in landscape mode, or behind the “All Mailboxes” icon when in portrait mode, you’ll be able to navigate to different mailboxes.

Above the account sections is an “Inboxes” section. Here, you have the option to navigate to a “unified inbox” (by touching “All Inboxes”), or you can see specific inboxes by touching the appropriate account.

Setting Up An Account
In order to add an email account, you first need to head over to the Settings app on your iPad. From here, navigate to the “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” section.

Underneath “Accounts,”, hit “Add Account.”: This will bring you to a list of account types, including “Microsoft Exchange,” “iCloud,” and “Gmail.” Obviously, you must select your account type here. So, if your email address is appadvice@gmail.com, select Gmail. You’ll then have to enter the appropriate credentials.

The first field you’ll need to enter is your name. This name is what others will see when you send them an email. It doesn’t have to be your real name, but it has to be a name you’re comfortable sending to your email buddies. “Address” refers to your email address, and “Password” asks for your email account password. Last, “Description” refers to a brief description of your email account. This description will be displayed as the mailbox name, so you can easily identify which account is which. Once you’ve entered these details, your iPad will verify them – and if all goes well, your email account should be ready to use. It’s as simple as that. Now, you can send and receive email with the convenience of your iPad!

To Push Or Not To Push: That Is The Question
When it comes to how you receive your email on the iPad, you have a choice: whether you want to configure a “push” or “fetch” email account. Here’s a quick description of each:

Push-enabled email accounts literally “push” email to your iPad, as soon as it hits your inbox. This is handy, because it means users can be notified of new mail instantly. However, push-enabled email accounts can drain the iPad’s battery somewhat, so if you find your battery life decreasing once configuring a push account, it may be due to the push notifications you’re continually receiving. In practice, this negative effect will probably be negligible. I mean, how many emails do you really get? Plus, the battery life on the iPad is pretty incredible, so deciding to enable push shouldn’t come down to the battery life.

Accounts which “fetch” email basically contact the server and check for new mail on a scheduled basis. You can choose between fetching for new mail every 15, 30, or 60 minutes, or you can choose to manually fetch email, only checking it when you launch the Mail app.

Let’s Get Pushy!
In our opinion, the choice is an obvious one, and push should be enabled as it’s a wonderful convenience. Unfortunately, not every email provider offers a push option, meaning sometimes you’ll have to settle for fetch.

If you have a Google Mail (Gmail) email account, a Yahoo! mail account, a Microsoft Exchange account, or an iCloud account, then “push” email should work fine for you. However, if you have a Gmail account, you do need to set up your email account in a pretty unusual way. The other push accounts we mentioned work without any extra setup.

Pushing Gmail
In order to get any Gmail account to push you need to add your Gmail account as if it were a Microsoft Exchange account. So, when selecting account type, be sure to hit “Microsoft Exchange,” instead of the built in Gmail option. Enter your Google Mail email address and password, as shown in the screenshot. Then hit “Next.” Now comes the important part. On the next page, you’ll be asked to enter a “Server” and “Domain.” For your email’s server, enter “m.google.com,” and leave the domain field blank. Again, hit “next” to proceed.

On the next page, you’ll be asked which Google Mail services you want to sync with your device. You can bring your Google Calendars and contacts directly to your iPad. As the guys over at Google note, “unless you want to delete all the existing Contacts and Calendars on your iPad, select the ‘Keep on my iPad’ option when prompted.” Once you’re finished, hit “Done,” and presto: you’ve managed to configure push notifications for your Google Mail account!

Pushing iCloud, Yahoo! And Exchange Accounts
Thankfully, setting up an iCloud, Yahoo!, or an Exchange account is far easier. To ensure that push notifications are on, head over to the “Fetch New Data” section within the “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” part of the Settings app, and make sure “push” is switched to ON. If all of your email accounts are configured to use push, then you don’t need to set up a “fetch” schedule. However, if some accounts aren’t push-enabled, you can select from a variety of fetch intervals (15, 30, 60 minutes, or manually).

Pay Attention To All Of The Mail Settings
Other important aspects of the “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” section of the Settings app include your iPad’s signature, which can be located further down the list. By hitting “Signature,” you can change the default “Sent from my iPad” to something a little cooler, if you wish (like “Sent from my Atari 2600″). Alternatively, you can leave it alone or delete it altogether. Another important setting for your push accounts is “Mail Days to Sync.” This allows you to set how much email you want to keep on your iPad at one time, you can even choose no limit, which means all of your emails will be stored right on your iPad.

Mail Tips And Tricks
Now, let’s talk about some tips and tricks. First off, while it’s possible to email photos on the iPad, there is a five photo cap. This can be pretty annoying if you want to email an entire album to a friend.

Fortunately, there’s a way around the five photo cap. Simply select the photos you want to email, and, instead of touching the “Email” icon, choose to “Copy” the photos instead. Then, navigate over to the Mail app, and paste the photos into a new message. You can access the copy and paste functions for the iPad by holding down your finger in a text field. The options will then appear on the screen. Paste your photos in and – presto! – you’re ready to show off those adorable pictures of your new puppy.

Within the Mail application, it’s also possible to search through your various mailboxes. In order to do this, simply tap the text field marked “Search” at the top of your mailbox pane. In order to search through particular mailboxes, you must first navigate to them via the “Accounts” section of the “Mailboxes” window, as explained above. Unless you’re using a unified email inbox, then you can search it all right there. Pretty convenient, huh?

Once you’ve selected the mailbox you want to search, simply tap the text field and enter a keyword. If the Mail app hasn’t discovered the email(s) you were looking for, you can touch “Continue Search on Server,” and the application will contact the server, and search for emails there.

Search, a feature which is definitely necessary, however, is a little disappointing in the Mail app. Unless you’re searching an iCloud account, the mail search doesn’t always scan through the entirety of the emails for keywords, only the, from, and subject lines. Often times it has trouble pulling up old emails during a search as well. An easier way to search for emails is definitely via an online, HTML5 Web app, especially if you have a Google Mail account.

Great Alternatives To The Mail App
While the Mail app is undoubtedly the most convenient means of working with your email, certain aspects of the application aren’t that great – such as the search feature, which we’ve discussed above.

Fortunately, various email services offer “Web apps” – – online, iPad-optimized webpages – which provide another way for users to work with email. Specifically, Google Mail and Yahoo! Mail offer great Web apps. Windows Live, too, offers a reasonable alternative to the Mail app.

You’ll quickly find searching through emails using the Google Mail Web app (gmail.com) is a much quicker, easier experience. It scans through the entire body of email ensuring you find the email you want. You can access such Web apps simply by logging into your email account from Safari, on your iPad.

Recently, Google released a native Gmail app for iOS. While many are less than pleased with Google’s attempt at a native iOS app, you are more than welcome to give it a try for yourself; if you are not satisfied with the native Mail app, or content with using Safari all the time to log in, you can download the free Gmail app as an alternative.
Should I Use The Mail App Or The Web?

For general use, the iPad’s native Mail application does the job and is a pleasure to use. Our advice would be to bookmark your email accounts’ webpage in Safari to use when you need to do a power search, and use the Mail app for everything else. The bottom line is have fun with your email. We guarantee the iPad will be the greatest email experience you have ever had and your favorite way to work with your email. Throughout the rest of AppStart, we’ll show you cool ways other apps interact with the Mail app, too. So for now, get Mail setup, push your emails (if you want to), and enjoy the rich email experience on your iPad!

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