With the release of the iPhone 4 and iOS4, Apple has added support for multiple Exchange accounts on the devices that support the latest iPhone OS. This may not seem like a significant enhancement, but depending on how a person uses their iPhone, it could be a very welcome feature.
I use my iPhone with my work Exchange account as well as a number of IMAP accounts. At Westminster College, our IT department also uses a common account for many tasks, including software license management and support subscriptions so that employee turnover does not create gaps in service and support coverage. Beyond this need for a shared account, there are often other reasons why people need to sync multiple Exchange accounts (permanently or temporarily), which include:
- An employee will be away for an extended period, so his duties are transferred to someone else during that time. This person may add both accounts to his iPhone.
- An employee works in multiple departments and has multiple Exchange accounts.
- A contractor works for multiple companies and has accounts with each one.
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Steps for adding a second Exchange accountThe first step to adding a second Exchange account is to go to the Settings page on your iPhone. On this page, tap the Mail, Contacts, Calendars option (Figure A). Figure A
The iPhone Settings pageOn the Mail, Contacts, Calendars page (Figure B), you'll see a list of all of the accounts you currently sync to your iPhone, along with the kinds of items that are being synchronized with each account. To add a new Exchange account, tap the Add Account option. Figure B
List of synchronized accountsiOS4 supports a number of formats, including Microsoft Exchange (Figure C). Tap the Microsoft Exchange option. Figure C
iOS4 mail account typesExchange accounts initially require the full account email address, the domain in which the account resides, and the account username and password (Figure D). Once you provide these details, tap the Next button. If the iPhone is not able to identify a server on which the account resides, the account page comes back up with a request for the additional piece of information (Figure E). Once you provide the necessary information, the iPhone verifies the account details (Figure F). Figure D
Exchange account detailsFigure E
Request the name of the Exchange serverFigure F
Account details are verifiedAssuming that your iPhone is able to verify account details, the next page of the new account creation process asks you to decide what kind of information you'd like to sync to your iPhone. You can choose to sync mail, contacts, and calendars. If you want to disable syncing certain information, tap the On button to change it to Off (Figure G). Figure G
Choose items to syncAt this point, the new Exchange account is fully configured and shows up in the list of accounts on the iPhone Settings page (Figure H). Figure H
Updated Settings page account listNow that the account is created, it's time to use it by tapping the Mail icon on the iPhone. Figure I and Figure J show the account pages that I see when I tap the Mail icon on my iPhone. Figure I is a list of the inboxes associated with each of my configured accounts. Scrolling lower on this page reveals the screen in Figure J, which is the list of actual accounts. The Inbox links open the individual inboxes for each account. The full account links allow me to choose folders other than the Inbox to view messages. For my Exchange account at Westminster, I use this link a lot since I make liberal use of rules and subfolders to manage my email. As you add multiple email accounts, take note of iOS4's new All Inboxes common mailbox. In this mailbox, you will find an aggregated view of all of the inboxes for all accounts you have configured on the iPhone (Figure I). Figure I
A list of inboxesFigure J
One area that can cause confusion has to do with the synchronization of multiple calendars. If you opt to sync multiple calendars, you can decide how calendar items should appear for each account. In Figure K, you'll notice that there are two appointments for the exact same time on the iPhone's calendar view. While I strive to meet everyone's needs on campus, it's tough to be in two places at once! If you look carefully, you'll notice that each appointment has a different colored circle next to it. Each color is associated with a different account. To see which account is associated with a particular color, tap the Calendars option in the upper left-hand corner of the screen to get a look at the screen (Figure L). If you'd like to stop displaying one of the calendars, tap it to remove the checkmark at the right-hand side of the screen. Figure K
Multiple calendarsFigure L
Decide which calendars to display
If you've set up other Exchange accounts on your iPhone, this should be a familiar process. However, as you add multiple accounts to your iPhone, you need to make sure you don't confuse messages sent to different accounts, particularly as you use the iPhone's new common inbox (All Inboxes in Figure I) and single calendar views.
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Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive with CampusWorks, Inc. Scott is available for consulting, writing, and speaking engagements and can be reached at email@example.com.