iPhone® 4S Mail: Inbox Deficiency to Perfection

November 22nd, 2011

 (Please note: If you're not interested in reading my rant, simply scroll down and bypass it for the tutorial)

There's no nice to way to say this, the iPhone® isn't perfect. This truth became self evident when I switched from my O.G. Motorola DROID® to the iPhone® 4S on October 14th and tried using the factory installed MAIL app. Nothing prepared me for the days of research, frustration, utter annoyance and downright anger that followed. What seemed to me should be core functionality of any smart phone in 2011, instead was a glaring inadequacy and far from simple or intuitive. In-fact, considering the AnDROID® operating system has been so seamless in its mail operation since 2009, I would go so far as to say that the MAIL app on the iPhone® is downright broken. For those of you who think I'm over reacting, there is no reason to read any further. The MAIL app obviously works "well enough" for you and you're willing let APPLE© slide with this sub-par software. For everyone else, please keep reading.

Like most young adults I'm involved in many different ventures. I've got parties to attend on the weekends, my day job during the week and countless hair brained schemes to make extra money so I can buy my girlfriend shiny things. Because of this and the technologically encompassing society that engulfs every minuscule fiber that is our current modern day utopia¹, I have way too many² E-mail addresses. Where as the AnDROID® operating system was as I stated before seamless in this province, the iPhone® is less than on par. In fact, the MAIL app is so crippled that you may think you have it set up properly to send mail from multiple addresses, only to be more than disappointed in realizing that mail you thought was sent from JohnDoe@MyProfessionalJob.com, has really come from JohnDoe@PartyAnimal420.com. Furthermore, proper threading of these E-mails goes straight out the window and your Inbox will fast become a cluttered mess. Think I'm making this up? Do yourself a favor and test it out. If I'm wrong, you can also stop reading now.

To take a quick step back, I've been a loyal G-Mail® user since the beginning. G-Mail® at one point was by invitation only and I was one of the lucky ones. Over the years, G-Mail® and Google© have grown into the juggernaut they are today and the privilege has been extended to everyone and anyone interested in using the best³ mail service on the internet. Mail forwarding, labels and folders are just a few of the amazing and powerful features this client offers. Also, the substantial amount of ever growing space that G-Mail® provides dwarfs most other free E-mail. Because of this many people are now  using G-Mail® as their primary hub, forwarding E-mails from their other accounts into their Google Inbox for a streamlined and simple user experience. It's easier to check one Inbox rather than many. Furthermore, with the powerful "Send As" feature, they're sending mail from these numerous addresses all under the same "roof" of G-Mail®, and therein lies the rub.

As I said earlier in this rant of mine, hours of research, anger and frustration surrounded this very issue. For the first 48-72 hours of owning the new iPhone® 4S, I was so engulfed in this E-mail affair it almost ended my relationship, and no I'm not being dramatic. I only bring this point up to illustrate that I wouldn't be wasting my time with this blog if it wasn't something I knew others out there weren't pining for. What I'm getting at is, I'm not writing this for my own mental masturbation, I'm writing it to help the countless others in the forums which shared in my agony. So, without further ado, the best tutorial to date. Let's talk solutions.



#1. First and foremost, if you don't already have one, sign up for a G-Mail® account.

#2. Once you've created this account, you'll want to forward all mail from any other accounts you currently have to this newly created account. If these other addresses are G-Mail® accounts, skip this step and continue to step 3.

#3. Now that you've forwarded all mail to this new address, go back to any G-Mail® addresses you wish to  forward as well and set up some filters. Setting up these filters will enable G-Mail® to properly index any of your sent messages to this new primary address. The filters should also forward any mail sent "to" this address or "from" this address. First, go to your setting menu.

From your setting menu enter the "Filters" index


Create two new filters. All matches "to" and "from" the current address you are logged in with will be being forwarded to the newly created account from Step 1. of this tutorial. Please refer to the above screen shot and the two below for a frame of reference. 






Repeat Step #3. for as many G-mail® accounts that you may have.


#4. Under your newly created G-Mail® account in which all of your other addresses are now being forwarded and filtered, you'll want to set up your "Send As" features. Go to your settings menu and select "Accounts and Import". From here, refer to the screen shot below. G-Mail® will send each account a confirmation number. Once this process is complete, G-Mail® will be able to send mail from all of your mail clients and you'll have a much easier time managing all of your separate E-mail accounts.




#5. Now go to your iPhone® settings. Open Mail, Contacts, Calendars. If you want this to work properly, DELETE ALL ACCOUNTS currently setup inside that menu.



#6. Add a new Microsoft Exchange Account. It MUST be done in this order for this process to work. Under E-mail, make sure you use the new G-Mail® address you've just created.



#7. Under "Mail Days to Sync" enter No Limit, under Mail Folders to Push, I recommend pushing them all.



For some of you, this may be the end of your journey. If you're not interested in sending mail from multiple addresses while on your phone, give yourself a pat on the back. Your mail should properly push to you from all accounts, and all of your folders should be accessible. For everyone else who wishes to use their iPhone® to send mail from all of their accounts, please continue. 

Once this primary Exchange account is set up, now you'll now want to set up some IMAP accounts for your other G-Mail® addresses or POP3 if you're using other services that use this protocol. (Yahoo® Mail Plus!  being one example)

#8.Add a new account, and choose OTHER. The IMAP settings for G-Mail® accounts are shown below in the screen shots.



Here is an example of what my primary mail screen now looks like when I open the MAIL application



As  you can see my primary account which we set up in Step #1 is on the bottom of the other two accounts I added. Also, you may have noticed where that I personally have 11 separate E-mail addresses, I only chose to "install" two of them into my phone to send from. This doesn't impede mail coming to my phone from any of the other addresses, it simply just doesn't let me respond FROM these addresses.

For those of you who aren't exactly sure what your mail settings should look like, I've provided examples below. 



When all is said and done, I hope this tutorial was helpful. If for some reason you've followed all these instructions and still encounter problems, my first suggestion is always to reboot the phone entirely... If that doesn't work, send me an E-mail. I won't provide my address, but if you're smart enough, I bet you can figure it out. 

Thanks for reading! 


1. Or Dystopia if you're Ted Kaczynski

2. I have eleven.

3. In my humble opinion.