How to See Important Messages in iOS 7 Mail

A welcome feature in the new iOS 7 version of Apple’s Mail app is the way you can identify your important mail messages. One way, which we have enjoyed in OS X Mail, is by defining VIP contacts. Mail from these Very Important People on your list will be gathered inside a special VIP mailbox.

The VIP List

Let’s take a look at how to start your own VIP list, add important people to it, and have their messages all appear in the VIP mailbox for easy retrieval.

When a mail message arrives, and you wish to add the sender to the VIP list, tap the sender’s name in the From field in the message, then tap Add to VIP

Different panels from iOS Mail

Assigning mail message senders to a VIP list

Once your sender becomes an official VIP, future emails will be flagged with a star.

A detail from the All Inboxes panel in iOS 7 Mail

iOS applies a star to VIP mail entries

To show the VIP mailbox, you first need to be in the Mailboxes panel in Mail. Tap Edit at the top-right corner, and enable VIP visibility by tapping on it. A checkmark encircled in blue will appear. Notice that in this panel, you can also rearrange the ordering of your mailboxes by dragging the little “grab handles” on the right of each entry while in Edit mode.

Details from the Mailbox panel in iOS 7 Mail

By tapping Edit in the Mailboxes panel, Message States and special mailboxes can be enabled and edited

You can view and modify your list of VIPs. To do so, when you have exited from Edit mode, tap on the VIP mailbox.

The VIP List panel in iOS 7 Mail

The VIP list can be edited any time, and new VIP entries can be created here

By tapping on Vip Alerts, you can configure your iDevice to notify you when mail from your very important peeps arrive. The Notification Center in iOS 7 lets you know when you receive messages in favorite mailboxes including VIPs. You can also configure this manually by going to Settings > Notification Center > Mail.

Details from the Mail>VIP Panel in Notifications Settings

Notifications of incoming VIP mail can be enabled via Notification Center Settings

Flagging Messages

Flagging a message is a way to mark a message so you can find it easily for reviewing it at a later time. Tap the little flag pictograph in the bottom tool bar while reading the message. Your message will be marked with an orange flag – an orange dot by default.

A message panel in iOS 7

Flagging Mail messages is another way to group and sort email

You can change this to a flag pictograph by going to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Flag Style

To enable the visibility of the Flagged Messages mailbox, tap Edit while viewing the Mailboxes list, then tap Flagged. Rearrange the order of your mailboxes by using the “grab handles” at the right of each item.

Searching for Flagged and VIP Messages

The Search capabilities in the Mail app will let you quickly find all flagged and/or VIP messages. Scroll up to – or tap the top of the message list – to reveal the search field. Searching looks at the address fields, the subject, and the message body. To search multiple accounts at once, search from a smart mailbox, such as All Sent.

Here’s the thing: you can search by message state. To find all flagged, unread messages from people in your VIP list, type “flag unread vip.” 

The Search field in iOS 7 Mail

The iOS 7 Mail app’s Search field can be used to quickly locate messages according to “Message States” like VIP

You can use these message states together as shown, or individually. You can also search for other message attributes, such as “attachment.”

Finally, if you have set your devices, including your Mac, to synchronize mail settings via iCloud, you will find your various VIP and other message states as well as other mail attributes in-sync across all your devices.

In conclusion, we see once again that many powerful features in iOS 7 are hidden just under the surface. By modifying and tweaking your iOS 7 and OS X Mail settings, and keeping them in-sync via iCloud, your mail workflow efficiency is sure to improve.