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Trying to achieve bliss reading mail on iPad and iPhone

I have just (re)read Joe Kissell's article "Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail" and would like to try to adapt some of his ideas to my complex setup. However, the article is now almost three years old and I figure Mail and Gmail have changed since then. I'm wondering if there is an update somewhere. I didn't find any recent In Control books on the topic.

Actually, I'm quite happy with my setup as it is. I have quite a few accounts (almost two dozen...), Gmail and others, some POP, some IMAP. I always work from my Mac. I am satisfied with SpamSieve that I've been using for years. I use Mail Act-on rules extensively to file everything in specific folders.

My problem is that when I read my mail on my iPhone or my iPad, I get treated to all the spam that is hidden from my view on my Mac. I was wondering if I tried passing all my mail through Gmail, it would clean up my inbox on the mobile devices.

If this isn't just a stupid idea, what would you suggest I read?

Thanks.
Ellen
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 09, 2012 19:23
    Hi Ellen,

    A few minor things have changed since that article was published, and one of these days I plan to update it, but it's still close enough to being accurate that people can still follow along.

    My own approach is to route all my mail through Gmail and use its excellent spam filtering, so that by the time messages reach my various iOS devices, the spam has already been filtered. I also use SpamSieve on my Macs, which catches the odd occasional message that Gmail's filters miss.

    So yes, I think your idea is splendid!

    Joe
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  • In your article, you say:
    If you have more than one email account (and who doesn't these days?), you can use Gmail as a central repository - either forwarding your other accounts' mail to Gmail or letting Gmail check the messages in other accounts using POP.


    Are there reasons to prefer one to the other?

    Ellen
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 14, 2012 10:40
    In my opinion, forwarding is usually the best choice—it's cleanest. The only reason I might suggest using POP is if the email provider doesn't offer a forwarding option.

    Joe
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  • My provider does offer forwarding. Another reason I found to choose forwarding is that I don't have to give Gmail my password for the other account.

    I find that if I have a message in my Gmail inbox in Mail and I trash it, it is trashed on Gmail (accessed with my browser). And, if I understand correctly, it will be deleted (really truly deleted - as far as I will be able to see anyway) in 30 days. However, if I put the message into some other folder that I have in Mail ("Standby", for instance) that isn't mapped to Gmail in any way, Gmail just moves that message to "All Mail", with no tag. Then if I delete the message from the Standby folder in Mail, nothing happens in Gmail. It's still there in All Mail.

    On the iPad, there is no way to trash a message. It can only be "Archived" even if what I really want is to delete it. The message then disappears from the Inbox everywhere (it's still in the automatic "Important" folder in the Gmail zone in Mail and on the iPad), and it is still in Gmail (All Mail), and will remain there if I don't delete it manually.

    My point is that depending on where and when I delete a message, the result in Gmail is not the same. This takes some getting used to. But I do like the way the setup is working. I'll have to see how it goes for a couple of days.

    Ellen
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 14, 2012 14:03
    You're correct that if you move a message from Gmail into a local mailbox in Mail, then it'll disappear from Gmail except for in All Mail. You have to use server-based mailboxes, which are located under your Gmail account in Mail's sidebar.

    As to your second point, actually you can get the same result on an iPad—archiving is not the only option—but it depends on how you set up the account and what your settings are. (Try going to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > your Gmail account and seeing whether there's an Archive Messages switch. If there is one, you can turn it off.) I talk about all the various ways of setting up Gmail accounts on an iOS device in Take Control of Mail on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

    Joe
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  • OK, I think reading your book would be a good idea. One last question (for now). Since I redirected my mail to Gmail, a lot of good messages end up in Gmail's spam folder. For instance, my receipt from Paypal for the payment of the Take Control Book you suggested just landed in the Spam folder...

    What I've done up to now is go to Gmail on my Mac and tell it it isn't spam. Can I do that in Mail or on the iPad? If the answer is in the book, just tell me, I'll look it up.

    Thanks.

    Ellen
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 14, 2012 17:37
    You can do the same thing on any iOS device, yes. Just move the message from the Spam mailbox to any other mailbox, and that un-marks it as spam.

    Joe
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  • Does it "teach" Gmail about what is spam and what isn't? Like it does, with perfect results, with SpamSieve?

    Ellen
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 14, 2012 20:20
    Gmail's spam filter is a black box, and it doesn't work anything like Mail's or SpamSieve. So no, no guarantees that it will learn accurately.

    Joe
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  • Joe,

    I am reading your book "Take Control of Mail on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch (3.0)" and have a problem.

    I have six accounts on my iPad in Mail. Two Gmail accounts, one iCloud, and three different personal accounts (tied to three different providers). These were set up long ago when I first got my iPad. When I compose mail, whatever I do, the message, once sent, always appears to be "From" one of the Gmail accounts. If I position myself in the inbox of another account the correct address does appear in the From line (and I can change it from the popup menu), but once sent, the recipient (in my tests, one of my other accounts) always sees the message as from one of the Gmail accounts (always the same one).

    Do you have an idea why this is?

    Ellen
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 16, 2012 14:11
    The first thing I'd say to check is: go into Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and scroll down to the bottom of the Mail section (just above Contacts). See what Default Account is set to. I'll bet it's that Gmail account.

    Where you are within Mail when you compose a message is irrelevant; the only factors that Mail considers are the default account and an alternative From address, if you choose one. However, off the top of my head I can't explain why it isn't taking the From address you set.

    Joe
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  • No, the default account isn't Gmail at all. It is what I consider my "main" address, the one I can't get to show up in From.

    Also, I redirected all my non Gmail accounts to one Gmail account. While fiddling with my main account on the iPad, I discovered this account has two mailboxes for spam, one labelled "Spam", the other "spam". "spam" is empty. "Spam" has more than 300 messages in it. To tell the truth I've never looked there before because my main account was accessed by POP on the Mac and there I use SpamSieve. I looked on the server and there was nothing there. All mailboxes, including Spam are empty. Anyway, the spam in "Spam" is recent but obviously there's nothing since I redirected the incoming mail to one of my Gmail accounts. My problem is how to empty this Spam box and how to remove the second one. I can't think of anything except deleting the account.I could then try your method for getting the From field to behave with the method you describe in your book page 25 and 26. I could also create it again if I find I can't live without seeing it.

    Ellen
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 16, 2012 15:12
    Huh. Well, that's weird, and I'm not really sure what to tell you. I imagine I could figure it out if I were looking at your iPad in person, but it's hard to untangle all the variables remotely.

    In general, I think you'll have the best results if your iPad (or iPhone) has fewer email accounts on it, ideally only one. If it's possible to delete (even temporarily) the accounts other than your main Gmail account, that might make troubleshooting less confusing. Remember, too, that Mail on your iPad only reflects what's on the Gmail server. So you may find it helpful to take a look at your Gmail account on the Web to get a sense of what labels/mailboxes are really doing what.

    Joe
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  • Another reason maybe to delete most of the accounts is that my old mobile provider's SMTP is still listed, although I left them a few months ago (when I got my iPhone 4S) and can't see how to delete it. I want to only use Gmail's SMPT and maybe my new mobile provider's as a secondary server.

    Not simple all this. I don't know how "normal people" (those who don't read manuals) manage... :-)

    Ellen
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  • Followup:
    Changing the From on my iPhone works fine.

    On the iPad, I deleted my main (non Gmail) account and added its address to another account as you describe. I couldn't add it to Gmail because I then got a message saying "the user name or password for imap.gmail.com is incorrect".

    I didn't need the comma trick as the keyboard had one. The address I added appeared in the popup list for changing the From. And again, the message arrived with one of my Gmail accounts as sender...

    Ellen
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 16, 2012 17:53
    See the note at the bottom of p. 25 in "Take Control of Mail on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch":

    Temper your enthusiasm: This procedure works with regular POP and IMAP accounts. It doesn’t work with Exchange, Yahoo, Hotmail, iCloud, or MobileMe accounts—although it’s not needed for iCloud or MobileMe aliases, which appear in the list automatically. If you’re using Gmail, you must be aware of some gotchas that I explain in Step 3.

    [and those are...]

    Gmail twist: With a Gmail account, you may discover that the entire IMAP Account Information (or POP Account Information) section is missing! That’s because Mail offers four ways to set up a Gmail account, as I describe later in Four Methods to Access a Gmail Account. If you set up a Gmail account in the default way— by tapping Gmail when you initially added the account—that crucial section doesn’t appear, and you can’t use this trick.

    Do not try changing the settings in the Gmail Account Information section—that’ll only lead to errors! To work around the problem, delete the Gmail account and set it up again as a standard IMAP account (see Gmail as IMAP). Then you’ll be able to add one or more extra From addresses.

    In other words, you were trying to put the addresses in the wrong place; the "right" place exists only if you set up the account differently.

    And with that, I'm afraid I'm going to have to bow out of this discussion—sorry!

    Joe
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