Apple

iOS and OS X prove flexible, capable messaging platforms

Take a tour of Apple's messaging capabilities, including mail support and operations on iOS devices and OS X systems using both Microsoft and Apple programs.

Apple messaging
Email remains the killer dominant app. Whether using Linux, Mac, or Windows — and whether communicating for business or personal reasons — email persists as a critical application. Where POP3 previously met users' needs, and IMAP improved synchronization capabilities, droves have adopted Microsoft Exchange services to power back end email, contact, and calendar operations. 

Apple's taken notice. The company's popular iOS devices and OS X computers support multiple applications that accommodate all three (POP3, IMAP, and Exchange) email platforms well. Take a tour of Apple's messaging capabilities, which include mail support and operations on iOS devices and OS X systems using both Microsoft and Apple programs.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

OS X Internet Accounts preferences

Apple OS X Internet Accounts preferences (Figure A) supports the configuration of numerous different email accounts. In addition to supporting iCloud mailboxes, OS X makes it easy for users to connect to Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, POP3, and IMAP accounts.

Figure A

Figure A

OS X Internet Accounts preferences.

Connecting to Exchange

An OS X Apple wizard simplifies Exchange account configuration (Figure B). When connecting to a Microsoft Exchange email account, users begin by providing their name, email address, and password.

Figure B

Figure B

OS X Apple wizard.

Configuring an Exchange mailbox

When configuring an Exchange mailbox using OS X (Figure C), users must provide their Windows account user name and the email server's address.

Figure C

Figure C

OS X Exchange mailbox.

Microsoft Outlook for Mac

One email client option available to Mac users is Microsoft Outlook for Mac (Figure D). The Outlook email client requires that users enter their name, email address, authentication method, domain user name and password, and other information. Clicking the Advanced button at the bottom right provides access to the account's Server tab, where server ports and SSL settings are configured.

Figure D

Figure D

Microsoft Outlook for Mac.

Mail, Contacts, Calendars Settings

iOS users leverage the Mail, Contacts, Calendars entry within the Settings menu (Figure E) to add and configure email accounts.

Figure E

Figure E

iOS Mail, Contacts, Calendar Settings.

Exchange Settings

When configuring Exchange accounts, iOS users can customize Exchange elements that synchronize with the device, including Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, and Notes (Figure F). Users can also specify the number of days of mail that should synchronize with the device.

Figure F

Figure F
Configure Exchange accounts.

iCloud Settings

When adding iCloud email accounts to an iOS device (Figure G), users can specify additional synchronization parameters, including for Safari, Keychain, Photos, Documents & Data, and the Find My iPad feature.

Figure G

Figure G

iOS iCloud email account.

Connect to Exchange via iOS

iOS users must enter an email address, server address, Windows domain, Windows user name, and password to connect to an Exchange server (Figure H).

Figure H

Figure H

Connecting to an Exchange server.

OS X Mail General settings

Numerous customization features exist within the OS X Mail program (Figure I). Users can specify a default email reader, new message check intervals, and new message notification sounds, among other options.

Figure I

Figure I

General settings in OS X Mail.

The OS X Mail application

The OS X Mail application supports connecting to multiple email accounts (Figure J). A sidebar provides account and folder navigation, while a second column provides access to individual email messages. The lion share of display space, of course, is typically configured to display mail messages themselves.

Figure J

Figure J

OS X Mail application.

OS X compose email message window

The OS X compose email message window is spartan but utilitarian (Figure K). Unlike Outlook, which possesses and displays myriad buttons, icons, features, and options, Mail designers simplified the interface and offer ready access to the most commonly required features.

Figure K

Figure K

Compose email in OS X.

OS X Junk Mail preference

One classic email problem is spam, or unsolicited mail. The Junk Mail preference within OS X (Figure L) enables enabling filters to help manage unwanted messages.

Figure L

Figure L

Junk Mail preferences in OS X.

OS X Rules

Many OS X business users have become dependent upon rules to process incoming mail. Rules help automate message sorting (Figure M).

Figure M

Figure M

Rules in OS X.

OS X Mail customizations

OS X Mail offers infinitely customizable rules (Figure N).

Figure N

Figure N

Customizations in OS X Mail.

OS X Mail Signature options

Signatures make it easy for users to standardize signature information to be added to every outgoing email message (Figure O). The Signature options show here are reached from within OS X Mail by clicking Mail, selecting Preferences, and clicking Signatures.

Figure O

Figure O

Signature options in OS X.

Mail folder on an iPad

A Mail folder superimposes within a left-hand navigational pane on iPads (Figure P).

Figure P

Figure P

iOS Mail folder on an iPad.

Mail displayed on an iPad

Users can select individual email messages on an iPad and display them using the tablet's entire screen (Figure Q).

Figure Q

Figure Q

Mail on an iPad.

Mail folder navigation on an iPhone

Mail folder navigation consumes the entire screen on smaller iPhones (Figure R).

Figure R

Figure R

Mail on an iPhone.

iOS displaying Mail

Just as with iPads, when users select an email message, the message can be displayed using the iOS device's entire screen (Figure S).

Figure S

Figure S

iOS email message.

Microsoft Outlook for Mac

OS X users are not limited to using Apple's Mail application, of course. Microsoft Outlook for Mac is another option. Figure T shows the toolbars, sidebar, mail folder, and message display window within Outlook for Mac 2011.

Figure T

Figure T

Outlook for Mac. 

Outlook for Mac compose mail window

Outlook for Mac 2011's compose mail window (Figure U) possesses more icons, buttons, and formatting options (by default) than the OS X Mail compose mail view.

Figure U

Figure U

Compose mail in Outlook for Mac.

Outlook for Mac Rules

Mac Outlook users can also leverage Rules (Figure V) to help manage overflowing inboxes and help ensure critical messages aren't overlooked and receive the attention they require.

Figure V

Figure V

Leverage Rules in Outlook for Mac.

Outlook for Mac Rules customizations

Just as is true with OS X Mail, Outlook for Mac 2011 Rules are infinitely customizable (Figure W).

Figure W

Figure W

Rules customizations.

Outlook for Mac Signature creation

Signature creation and editing is straightforward for Outlook for Mac users (Figure X).

Figure X

Figure X

Signature creation in Outlook for Mac.

Outlook for Mac Junk Mail filters

Outlook for Mac also possesses Junk Mail filters (Figure Y). Users can select no protections, a low protection setting, a higher level filter, or even an Exclusive option in which only messages from Address Book contacts, Safe Domains, and Mailing List Manager entries (a user-friendly rules manager, often known as MLM) are accepted.

Figure Y

Figure Y

Junk Mail filters in Outlook for Mac.

Outlook for Mac Safe Domains

Outlook for Mac users can specify individual safe domains (Figure Z), from which email should always be accepted, using the Safe Domains feature.

Figure Z

Figure Z

Safe Domains in Outlook for Mac.

Outlook for Mac blocked domains

Using Outlook for Mac, users can also specify specific email domains that should be automatically blocked and treated as junk mail (Figure AA).

Figure AA

Figure AA

You can block domains in Outlook for Mac.

Outlook for Mac email

As with most email clients, double-clicking an email message within Outlook for Mac 2011 opens the email within an independent window (Figure BB). 

Figure BB

Figure BB

Email message in Outlook for Mac.

Out of Office replies

One often needed feature is automatic out-of-office replies (Figure CC). Such messages are configured within Outlook on OS X by clicking Tools and selecting Out of Office.

Figure CC

Figure CC

Creating out-of-office replies.

OS X Delegates

Many businesses extend additional user access to other staff members' mailboxes. Once appropriate server-side permissions are set, users can configure the Outlook OS X client for corresponding Delegates access (Figure DD) by clicking Tools, choosing Accounts, clicking Advanced, and choosing Delegates.

Figure DD

Figure DD

Delegating in OS X.

Outlook for Mac Security tab

Advanced security options can be configured using Outlook for Mac by clicking the Security tab (Figure EE), which appears immediately after the Delegates tab. Digital signing certificates, signing algorithms, and encryption settings can all be set from the Security tab. (Apple Mail leverages the OS X Keychain to store and manage encryption keys and digital certificates.)

Figure EE

Figure EE

Security tab in Outlook for Mac.

OS X Mail Mailbox Behaviors tab

OS X Mail also possesses advanced settings (Figure FF). Message storage settings — including specifying whether draft, sent, junk, and trash email items should be stored on the email server — are configured from within an email account's Mailbox Behaviors tab.

Figure FF

Figure FF

Mailbox Behaviors tab in OS X Mail.

OS X Mail Advanced tab

Selecting the OS X Mail Advanced tab (Figure GG) provides users the ability to customize email server paths and ports.

Figure GG

Figure GG

Advanced tab in OS X Mail.

What OS X and iOS messaging features do you use the most? What tips and tricks have you found while working with Apple's messaging features? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.


About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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