How to Save a Message as a Draft in iPhone Mail

Digital tablet with drink and notepad
Surely, the email draft can wait for the coffee to be finished. StockUnlimited

iOS Mail lets you save drafts for later (to be continued even on a different device or computer) easily, and you can also move mail you are composing out of the way.

You Need Not Finish It All Right Now

3–2–1—Time's up!

I have to run now, and I have to hide—my iPhone. The only thing is that I am in the middle of composing an email right now, and I do not want to lose what I have tapped so far.

Fortunately, it is easy (albeit maybe not in immediately obvious a manner easy) to save an email as a draft in iOS Mail on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad for later continuation.

Save a Message as a Draft in iPhone Mail

To save a message draft in iPhone Mail or iOS Mail on an iPad:

  1. Tap Cancel while composing an email message.
  2. Now tap Save Draft (or Save).

To continue composing, go to the Drafts folder and tap the draft or use the "new message" button.

What Happens When You Save a Draft in iOS Mail

When you save a message as a draft, its complete current state—including any recipients (in the To:, Cc: and Bcc: fields) and email subject text as well as text (or images) in the email's body—will be saved in the Drafts folder.

With an IMAP account set up to synchronize drafts and this folder (which will be the case by default for most such accounts), the message drafts will be saved on the server, and you can continue to work on them on any computer or device connected to the same email account via IMAP or a web interface, for example.

Set the "Drafts" Folder for an Account in iOS Mail

To specify which folder iOS Mail should use to save drafts for an account (and make sure, for example, they are synchronized with the server for IMAP accounts):

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Tap the desired account under ACCOUNTS.
  4. Now tap the email address for the account.
  5. Open Advanced.
  6. Now select ​Drafts Mailbox under MAILBOX BEHAVIORS.
  7. Select the desired folder.
    • ​​Typical choices would be Drafts under ON MY IPHONE or ON MY IPAD (for POP email accounts) or Drafts under ON THE SERVER.
  1. ​Close the Settings app.

Move an Email Out of the Way in iOS Mail

To merely move an email you are composing out of the way of reading emails (or starting another email) in iOS Mail:

  1. Swipe from the email's subject (or New Message if either no subject has been entered yet or that is, in fact, your email's subject) down.

To continue composing, tap the email's subject (or, again, New Message) at the screen's bottom.

Note that iOS Mail does not save these messages to the Drafts folder or the IMAP server automatically. The out-of-the-way message draft will be saved locally on the device. If you close and re-open iOS Mail or re-start the device, the message will still be there, but you could also lose it when the device crashes more critically.

(Updated August 2016, tested with iOS Mail 7 and iOS Mail 9)