Email is known to stress in some members of Generation Z and others who prefer the immediacy of chat apps over a busy inbox† But the old electronic mail system still has its fans, which may prefer its slowness — or usability for composing longer messages, delivering file attachments, and organizing the digital paper trail. Many apps include shortcuts to streamline email processing, so if you often scroll through your inbox on your phone, here are some of those time savers for Google’s Gmail and Apple’s iOS Mail.
Set your swipes
By quickly archiving or dumping messages, you can instantly manage your inbox — and you can do that with your thumb, thanks to the “swipe” buttons in the email app. For example, you can assign an action (such as “flag”) to a swipe to the left and choose another (such as “archive”) for your swipe to the right. And Delete is always an option.
In the Gmail app for androidtap the menu icon in the top left corner, select Settings from the list and choose Swipe actions. Tap the Change button to select an action for both the left and right swipes. The iOS version uses different wording but similar steps.
Until set your swipes in iOS Mail, tap the Settings icon on the iPhone home screen, select Mail, then choose Swipe options. Choose the action you want to assign to the Swipe Left and Swipe Right functions.
Want to delete a lot of messages at once? In Gmail, tap the icon next to each junk message in the inbox, then tap the trash can icon. In iOS Mail, first tap the Edit button, then select the messages and tap Trash in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Shield your email
from your phone notification settings can tell you when new email arrives. If you want to look at recent messages in a different way, you can add an email widget to your home screen.
On most phones with Android 9 or later, press an empty area of the home screen until the Widgets menu appears. Select Gmail or any other email widget you want to use, then slide it to where you want it on the home screen.
On an iPhone with iOS 14 or later, press your finger on a blank area of the Home screen (or Today screen) until the icons begin to wiggle, then tap the + button in the top-left corner. In the Search Widgets box, enter “mail,” which will bring up the iOS Mail option — or gmail, if you use it; note that sometimes widgets are picky† Make your selection and then tap the Add Widget button on the next screen.
In iOS Mail, you can also: long press inbox preview to see more of a message and get an action menu to reply to, forward, or mark it.
Take care of business
Those times when you’re waiting for a meeting (or other event) are a great opportunity to manage your mail. Most email apps offer several productivity features.
In a new Gmail message, tap the paperclip icon at the top of the screen to add an attachmentlike a photo or a file stored on your Google Drive† You can tap a newly received message in the More menu with three dots and add it to your Google Tasks to do list† Want to respect business hours and set a message to be sent at a later time? After composing the text, tap the More menu in the top right corner of the screen and choose Schedule Send†
Until add an attachment in Apple’s iOS Mail app, start a new message and tap an empty area where you want to insert the file. On the toolbar that appears above the keyboard, tap the icon for the type of file you want to attach; apples Mail Drop feature can send an attachment as large as 5 megabytes using the iCloud service. Tap the square icon to the right of the camera icon to scan a new document and add it to the message. Want to annotate that file or sign a form? Tap the pen icon to mark it on the screen with a stylus or fingertip.
Close those lists
A major cause of inbox overload can be a steady stream of mailing list messages from organizations and merchants. If you decide you no longer want to continue reading (or delete) these messages, scroll to the bottom of the message and find a link to unsubscribe or change your email preferences. Most legitimate companies include these options.
The iOS Mail app often displays an Unsubscribe button at the top of a mailing list message. Tap the button and confirm your intention to leave the list – and make your inbox a little more organized.