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How to manage email and mailboxes in Mail for iPhone and iPad

How To Manage Emails Iphone Hero
How To Manage Emails Iphone Hero (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe/iMore)

You might be using the Mail app, but there are many tricks you can learn to start using it like a pro. You can do all sorts of things, like managing your mailboxes, create VPI lists, and many other shortcuts that are easier to do on your iPhone than on your Mac. Here's how you can manage email and mailboxes in Mail for iPhone and iPad.

Here are a couple of ways that you can master your mailbox for your iPhone and iPad

How to mark an email as read or unread on iPhone and iPad

  1. Launch the Mail app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Edit in the upper right corner.

Launch Mail app, then tap Edit to edit (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Choose any email messages you'd like to mark as read.
  2. Select Mark in the lower left corner.
  3. Tap Mark as Read. If the messages you chose were already read, you can instead tap Mark as Unread.

To mark an email, tap any email messages, tap Mark in the lower left. Then choose Mark as Read or Mark as Unread, depending on your circumstances (Image credit: iMore)

How to flag an email message on iPhone and iPad

  1. Launch the Mail app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Edit in the upper right corner of your screen.

Launch Mail app, then tap Edit to edit (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select the message(s) you'd like to flag.
  2. Choose Mark in the lower left corner of your screen.
  3. Tap Flag. If the messages you chose were already flagged, you can instead tap Unflag.

To flag an email, tap messages you'd like to flag, tap Mark, choose Flag or Unflag, depending on what you want. (Image credit: iMore)

Once you have a message (or messages) flagged, a special Flagged mailbox will appear in your Mailboxes list. Tap on it to see a list of all your flagged messages.

How to add new mailboxes on iPhone and iPad

  1. Launch the Mail app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Edit in the upper right corner of your screen.
  3. Choose New Mailbox in the lower right corner of your screen.

To add new mailboxes, launch the mail app on your mobile device, tap edit, then choose new mailbox (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Type a name for your mailbox in the Name field.
  2. Tap the Mailbox Location field to attach your new folder to an account.
  3. Choose a main mailbox in which you'd like to locate your new mailbox.
  4. Select Save, followed by Done.

to add new mailboxes, type the name of the new mailbox in the name field, then tap the mailbox location. Choose a main mailbox for the location, then choose save followed by done. (Image credit: iMore)

How to manage email and mailboxes in Mail for iPhone and iPad

  1. Launch the Mail app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Choose the mailbox where the message you want to move is located.
  3. Tap Edit.

To move a message to a different mailbox, launch the Mail app on your device, choose the mailbox that contains the message you want to move, then tap edit. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap the message(s) you'd like to move.
  2. Choose Move.
  3. Select the mailbox to which you'd like to move the message(s).

To move messages to a different mailbox, tap the message you want to move, choose move, then tap the new mailbox location (Image credit: iMore)

How to add contacts to your VIP list on iPhone and iPad

For those you email often, you may want to add to your VIP list. By doing so, their messages are stored in a separate location in the Mail app, making them easier to find.

  1. Launch the Mail app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Choose the VIP directly underneath your regular inbox.
  3. Tap Add VIP.

To add contacts to your VIP list, launch the Mail app on your devices. Tap VIP directly underneath your regular inbox. Tap Add VIP. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select a person from your Contacts list to add to the VIP list.
  2. Choose Add VIP to add more.

To add contacts to your VIP, choose a person from your Contacts app, then tap Add VIP to add more. Repeat. (Image credit: iMore)

Setting VIP list alerts

Through the Notifications Settings, you can set custom alerts for VIP mail. To do so:

  1. Tap VIP Alerts on the VIP List page.
  2. Toggle on Allow Notifications at the top.
  3. Make changes to Alerts, including Banner Style, Sounds, Badges, and how Show Previews are performed.

To create VIP list alerts in the Mail app, tap VIP alerts on the VIP list page, toggle on Allow Notifications. Make changes to Alerts, including Banner Style, Sounds, Badges, and how Show Previews are (Image credit: iMore)

How to filter inboxes in the Mail app for iPhone and iPad

To better organize your emails, you can apply filters. In addition to the Unread/Read, Flagged/Unflagged options mentioned above, you can also filter by emails addressed directly or CC'd to you. You can also filter by only emails that have attachments or only emails from your VIP list. To help narrow it down even further, you can select which inboxes you want to be filtered.

  1. Launch the Mail app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Choose your mail account under Mailboxes.
  3. Tap an inbox (or tap All Inboxes).

To fiter inboxes, launch the Mail app, choose your mail account, tap an inbox or tap All boxes (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Choose the Filter button in the bottom left corner of the screen. It looks like a circle with three lines inside of it.
  2. Tap Filtered By in the bottom center of the screen.
  3. Select the category you want to filter. You can filter by Unread, Flagged, To: Me, Cc: Me, Only Mail with Attachments, Only from VIP, and Only Mail Sent Today.
  4. Tap Done in the upper right corner of the screen.

To fiter inboxes, choose the filter button at the bottom left, tap Filtered By, select the category to filter by, then choose Done. (Image credit: iMore)

How to unsubscribe to mailing lists in the Mail app for iPhone and iPad

You can unsubscribe to mailing lists that you, for whatever the reason, are subscribed to. Instead of going through the rigamarole of tapping through a half-dozen web pages asking why you are leaving, you can unsubscribe in literally two taps.

  1. Open the Mail app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Select an email from a mailing list that you don't want to receive anymore.
  3. Tap Unsubscribe at the top of the email.
  4. Choose Unsubscribe when prompted to confirm.

To unsubscribe to a mailing list, open the Mail app, select and email, tap Unsubscribe at the top left. Confirm by choosing Unsubscribe when prompted to confirm. (Image credit: iMore)

Questions?

Do you have questions about how to manage email and mailboxes in Mail for iPhone? Let us know in the comments below.

Updated October 2020: Includes iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 settings.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.