Mobility

MailDroid Q&A: Fetching unread mails and working offline

A TechRepublic member asked Jack Wallen for more information about MailDroid, an Android email client. Find out what he had to say.

MailDroid is one of those email clients that satisfies many a need for the email power user. After posting an article about MailDroid, I began receiving questions from various TechRepublic readers. One reader wrote:

Hello,

I read your review of MD and would like to ask few questions:

  1. Is there a way to set up MD so that if fetches only unread mails from the server?
  2. How about composing mails in the offline mode? Can I do that, save them as a draft and then send them when I go online?

After digging into MailDroid, I discovered that, although the application doesn't offer settings specific to those features, there are ways to mimic these behaviors. Neither is necessarily as intuitive as you'd expect, but they aren't a huge challenge either. Let's address both of these questions.

Assumptions

First and foremost, I will assume you already have MailDroid installed and working with your email account. Second, I will assume you are working with an IMAP account (though both issues should work with both pop and Exchange as well).

Fetching unread email

There really isn't a setting in MailDroid to only fetch unread emails from a server. There is, however, a pre-load option. What this does is allow you to set up how much to cache on your phone. Really, this is about message size (and saving space); but, in the end, it will function as a means to control how much is downloaded.

The pre-load option is found in the Pre-Load and Index settings:

  1. Open MailDroid
  2. Tap the menu button
  3. Tap Preferences
  4. Scroll down and tap Pre-Load and Index
  5. Tap Pre-Load and Index all new messages (Figure A)
Figure A

MailDroid Pre-Load settings on a  Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S III.

Next, tap "Do not pre-load messages older than" and set how many days you want to include. If you set the variable to "1", your phone will only download messages received on that day. This setting effectively only allows MailDroid to download however many days of email you specify. There is one caveat: If you set it up after you've already downloaded your messages, you might wind up with older messages on the phone.

But don't think that you're stuck with just being able to see email from the pre-load settings. From within the mail account, there's a button (Figure B) that allows you to download the number of messages you set. Figure B

This feature will default to 10 older messages.

Select the number of messages you want to download from the drop-list (from 10 to 250), and then tap the Load button.

Compose "offline"

There isn't actually an offline mode for MailDroid. However, you can compose an email, save it as a draft, and then resume the draft later, and send. Here's how this works:

  1. Start composing an email
  2. Set the To and Subject
  3. Type the email (but don't send)
  4. From the Email Compose menu (three vertical dots), tap Save Draft (Figure C)
Figure C

From this same menu, you can spell check your email before you save it as a draft.
Once you tap Save Draft, the email is saved and placed in the "Drafts on device" folder. To get to this location, tap the back button until you get to the Accounts Listing screen. From there, you should see the "Drafts on device" entry (Figure D). Tap that, and then select the draft you want to resume. Figure D

The Drafts folder applies to all configured accounts.

Although the solutions aren't ideal, they'll get you close to the functionality you need. If this doesn't fit the bill, you can always hop on over to the MailDroid forum and post a feature request for the developers.

We'll revisit MailDroid in future articles. If there are other mobile topics you'd like to see on TechRepublic, please feel free to send your request to Jack.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

2 comments
aroc
aroc

I found it nice except for a very annoying issue for me: MD's connection management/requirements. If my mail clients on other PC's are active (true most of the time), and the "constant connection" option is active on MD, then those other clients are frequently blocked getting mail. If it is not set to constantly connected, then it often fails to download new mail or the deferred bits like pictures/attachments, and you have to keep trying till it gets "lucky" - I guess a turnabout situation on who is managing the mail. I gave up on it vs K9mail, which has no such management "selfishness". I like K9mail's interface better overall anyway, but when its update last fall stopped deleting mail from the POP server (on request of course), I stopped liking it so much (too much like the SeaMonkey Mail client failing to delete mail from the server in Linux, where it will do it from Windoze. grrrr....). If you are not running other active clients, then MD should be ok otherwise. YMMV

maildroiddev
maildroiddev

Just wanted to clarify a few things: 1. Under global preferences there is an option to auto-save drafts, so although clicking save draft will do it, it will also auto-save on a timed interval 2. With IMAP, you can set the drafts folder and when you regain a connection, it will also sync it to the draft folder on the server. So you can continue typing on a PC if you like. 3. You do not have to click 'save draft' then when a connection is established, open the draft and click send. You can click send with no connection and it will get stuck in the outbox with an error, but once a connection is re-established, it will send out on its own. Thank you for your feedback and comments.

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