Apple

5 time-saving tips for using Mail and Messages in iOS 8

iOS 8 has brought quite a few new changes to the Mail and Messages application, and there are a few tricks that you can use to speed up your mobile workflow. Cory Bohon explains.

Time-saving tips in iOS 8

The Mail and Messages applications in iOS 8 have been tweaked to make them better performers, and they include some new features that we've not seen from iOS before. Some of the features are lifesavers, while others are simple tips and tricks that can make your workflow easier than before. In this post, I'll highlight five of these tips and will show you how to use and configure them for your own use.

Mail

1. Writing multiple emails in Mail

How many times have you been writing an email, only to realize that you need to reference something that's in another email in your inbox? Before iOS 8, this was a hassle. You'd need to save the message as a draft, go back to your inbox, find the reference in the other message, and then restore your message from its draft state to continue writing.

With iOS 8, this process is much easier. Let's see how easy it can be to write multiple emails at once on an iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the Mail application
  2. Tap the button to compose a new message
  3. Note the new way that the "New Message" view is presented — it's similar to pages in Safari. Grab the bar at the top of the page (that contains the Cancel and Send buttons), and begin dragging it down to the bottom of the screen (Figure A)

Figure A

Figure A

Swiping down on the new message view lets you easily minimize the compose window for later.

You'll note that the new message that you just created shows up under the inbox view. You can continue using the Mail app while in this state, and you can even create other emails. When you're ready to restore the email that you're writing, simply tap it at the bottom of the screen, and the compose view will reappear.

2. Swipe to Archive and Trash

Swiping has become ubiquitous in iOS these days... after all, it makes sense as a shortcut for items on a touchscreen device. Mail in iOS 8 takes full advantage of swiping in the inbox. Now, you can easily swipe to flag messages, trash messages, and even archive messages, depending on whether you're swiping left or right on the table cell in the Mail inbox.

To configure swiping actions for Mail in iOS 8:

  1. Open Settings | Mail, Contacts, Calendars | Swipe Options
  2. Tap either Swipe Left or Swipe Right, depending on which you wish to configure
  3. Tap the action that you wish to have performed when swiping far left or far right (Figure B)

Figure B

Figure B

When swiping from left-to-right or right-to-left in iOS 8 Mail, you can have different options configured.

Note that with the Left Swipe, you can configure the following actions: None, Mark as Read, or Flag. With the Swipe Right option, you can configure these actions: None, Mark as Read, Flag, and Archive. You cannot have the same action configured for the Left and Right options.

Messages

3. Do Not Disturb and leaving group discussions

We've all been there: You get subscribed to a group iMessage conversation, but the only thing that we can think about is how can we unsubscribe from the entire thread. Fortunately, with iOS 8, if you find yourself in this situation, you have two options: Opt-out of the conversation, or enable Do Not Disturb. Let's take a look at how to perform both of these options.

To completely opt-out of a group iMessage discussion in iOS 8:

  1. Open Messages
  2. Open the Conversation in question
  3. Tap the Details button in the top-right corner of the screen
  4. Tap the "Leave this Conversation" button at the bottom of the view (Figure C)

Figure C

Figure C

You can easily Leave a Conversation in iOS 8.

If you still want to be in the discussion, but just don't want to be alerted to new messages in a particular iMessage thread, then you can do the following:

  1. Open Messages
  2. Open the Conversation in question
  3. Tap the Details button in the top-right corner of the screen
  4. Enable the option for "Do Not Disturb" (also see Figure C above)

After enabling this option, you'll still receive messages from the iMessage thread participants, but you won't get alerted to new incoming messages. This is perfect for those times when opting out of a conversation isn't the best idea, but you're still annoyed to receive so many pictures of cats.

4. Easily send videos and pictures

Another new feature in iOS 8 is the ability to easily snap and send pictures and videos in an iMessage without lifting a finger... literally. Let's see how easy it can be to send a quick snapshot or video to your friends or co-workers:

  1. Open Messages
  2. Open a recent message or create a new one
  3. Tap and hold on the camera icon
  4. Swipe up to the camera icon slightly to instantly take a picture and send it, or swipe slightly to the right to the red record button in order to instantly record and send a short video (Figure D)
  5. Release your finger to have the video or picture sent, or slide your finger back to the "X" starting position to cancel sending anything.

Figure D

Figure D

Quickly sharing a video or photo is great when you're in a hurry and need to get an idea across or explain something in more detail.

Beware though,because once the image or video has been taken and sent, there is no way to remove it while it's in transit.

Do you have a tip or trick that you've found while using iOS 8? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

About Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...

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