Mobility

Make the most out of your Windows Phone 8 email experience

Jack Wallen offers some tips and tricks to make the most out of your Windows Phone 8 email experience.

The Windows Phone 8 has a built-in email client that users either love or hate (there's very little middle ground). The device allows you to use multiple email accounts and offers a scant few tricks to make the management of those accounts a bit easier. Whether you're a fan of the Unified inbox or prefer them separate -- or if you're simply an on-the-go business power user and like to have your mobile email client as easy to use as possible -- I have you covered. In this post, I'm going to dig into the built-in email client, plus a couple third-party email clients, so you can enjoy a much richer, efficient experience and get the most out mobile email.

Unified inbox

Many users do not like the Unified inbox, but others prefer to have only one place to go to check all of their email. With Windows Phone 8, you can create a Unified inbox by linking accounts -- and it consolidates your mail live tiles into one tile (there is a way around this, depending upon the account type). You can link as many email accounts together as you need, but the more accounts you link, the more confusing the Unified inbox can get.

Here's how to link accounts:

  1. Open one of your email accounts (it doesn't matter which)
  2. Tap the menu button (three horizontal buttons in the bottom right corner)
  3. Tap Link Inboxes
  4. Tap one of the inboxes from the "other inboxes" listing (Figure A)
  5. Repeat this until you've linked all the necessary accounts

Figure A

The Verizon-branded HTC Windows Phone 8.
You can also rename the linked inbox. To do this, tap the "rename your inbox," give the linked inbox a new name, and tap the check at the bottom of the screen (Figure B). Figure B

Make sure to give the inbox a name that will suggest which inboxes these are.

When you've linked accounts, the Live Tile will display two envelopes (instead of the standard single envelope).

You can also unlink accounts by following these steps:

  1. Open an email account
  2. Tap the menu button
  3. Tap "linked inboxes"
  4. Tap the account to be unlinked
  5. Tap "unlink"

The linking and unlinking will not change any of the settings or data on your email accounts.

Multi-select

Yes, you can open a multi-select dialog for your email accounts. You'll find two methods for this. The first (and easiest) is to open the inbox and then tap the multi-select button on the bottom toolbar (Figure C). Figure C

The multi-select icon is the second one from the left.
You can also tap the left edge of the window to reveal the multi-select dialog (Figure D). Figure D

However, there is no "select all" option.

If you long-press one of the emails, you also get a popup that offers these options:

  • delete
  • mark as unread
  • mark as read
  • move

Find opened attachments

There's a handy built-in application for Windows Phone 8 called the Office Hub (in the app listing, it's just called "Office"). If you open that app and then tap Email (under the Places listing), you get immediate access to any document attachments you've previously opened (Figure E). Figure E

Two documents previously opened from within email.

To open one of the attachments listed, simply tap on the file name. This only works with documents (not images or links).

Third-party applications

Although the Windows Phone 8 can connect to most types of services, in the end, you might simply not like the way the built-in email client for the Windows Phone 8 works. For some users, the inbox is too challenging to sift and sort through. Depending upon the email service you use, one solution is to install a third-party app and enjoy a more standard client. You can find email clients for the following email hosts:

Gmail

There's a simple app called GMbrowser for gmail. There's a free (ad-based) version and one without ads that costs $0.99 (USD). This client is a no-frills tool that allows you to easily view Gmail in a more standard way (Figure F). Figure F

GMbrowser for gmail with the menu showing.

GMbrowser for gmail isn't perfect, but it can make for more traditional mail browsing.

Microsoft Email

Outlook Browser is a bit of a misleading name, because you won't be connecting this client to an Exchange server or your desktop's Outlook client. You can, however, connect this app to your @live.com, @hotmail.com, Outlook.com, or other Microsoft web-based email services (excluding OWA). Similar to GWbrowser for gmail, it's much easier to navigate (if you're accustomed to a standard interface). This app (Figure G) allows you to compose, view, delete, forward, mark, and move (to Drafts or Sent) email. Figure G

Here you see Outlook Browser with the menu open.

The Windows Phone 8 email client isn't perfect, and the third-party apps are few and far between, but with just a little tweaking, you can get the most out of your mobile email experience.

What email client do you use with your Windows Phone 8? Are there any tips or tricks you can share that have made your mobile email experience easier? Join the discussion below and let us know.

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.

4 comments
AXTI
AXTI

So here is the list of my problem with the default email client:


1. When reading emails, 98% of the formatting including is stripped out and it is basically down to the "naked text".

2. You can't flag emails.  I use flags after reading to alert me back on the desktop what I have to pay attention to.

3. I use 3 IMAP accounts and 1 exchange account, and it would be nice if the live tiles had different colors for this.

4. You can't format outgoing emails.

5. You can't format the signature text content.  It is plain unformatted text.


So I can't agree with Jack Wallen.  As a corporate user reading emails properly formatted and potentially acting upon their embedded links is of high importance.


MetroMail could be a way out, except MetroMail doesn't connect to my Exchange, and to two of my IMAP accounts, while the default mail client has no problem with it.  But it would work I would pay MetroMail.  But I can't even email them the screenshot of the failure.

wfmaree
wfmaree

What I would like to see, and I am having a hard time finding this.  If there is an email app out there for WP8 please tell me. But, I want to see the email when you get specific emails in to your inbox that it will give you a specific alert.  I love my WP8 its a very awesome device but the default email client app on this sucks.  If there is a third party email client app for the phone that does specific alerts please let me know.  Thanks

Samartha Vashishtha
Samartha Vashishtha

I think this article misguides readers. Email experience has never been as good as it is with the Windows mobile platform. And it is only getting better with every release.

There is no Unified Inbox that is forced down the users' throats. You can have tiles corresponding to different inboxes. Also, you are prompted separately about email arriving in the different email accounts. You can also set different intervals at which the inboxes "poll" for new email.

If you are an email person, there is no better mobile platform for you than Windows. I've been using Windows phones for over a year, and although I have sometimes missed other features, the email/calendaring experience has been simply impeccable.

ggarland
ggarland

I have three different e-mail accounts that I monitor. I have a small tile for each one. When an e-mail comes in, the phone makes a noise that I chose and the number of new e-mails since I last opened the account shows next to a symbol on the tile. The tile for Outlook has it's own icon, but the other two which are both Comcast accounts just show an outline of an envelope. They were very simple to set up. I don't know how it could get any easier.

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