What Do the iPhone Email Settings Do?

Personalize your email experience

man with coffee and smartphone

Hero Images / Hero Images / Getty Images

The Mail app that comes on the iPhone offers dozens of email settings you can use to customize how the app works. Want to change the alert tone when a new email arrives or set how often the app checks for new mail? You can do it when you know the right settings.

Information in this article applies to iPhones running iOS 12 or iOS 11.

Mastering Basic iPhone Email Settings

The basic settings offered by the Mail app give you control over most aspects of the app. Here is what each core option on the Settings screen does. To access these options, tap Settings > Mail.

Mail settings on the iPhone
  • Siri & Search: Determine. whether Siri can be used to control and search the Mail app.
  • Notifications: Assign or turn off Notifications settings.
  • Cellular Data: Move this slider to Off/white to check email only via Wi-Fi. 
  • Preview: Controls the number of lines of text from the email shown in the inbox. Options range from none to five lines.
  • Show To/Cc Label: Slide this to On/green to show who an email is addressed to and who is CCed.
  • Swipe Options: Control what happens when you swipe left or right across an email in the inbox view. Tap Swipe Left and choose from None, Mark as Read, Flag, or Move Message to a new folder. Tap Swipe Right and choose from the same options, plus Archive.
  • Flag Style: Choose whether emails that you've flagged for follow up display a dot of color next to them or a flag icon.
  • Ask Before Deleting: Receive a warning before Mail deletes an email when you move this slider to On/green.
  • Load Remote Images: Slide this to On/green to load images in emails). Images can be turned off to save data.
  • Organize by Thread: Slide this to On/green to group related messages that are part of a conversation.
  • Collapse Read Messages: Move this to On/green to reduce the vertical space that messages in a thread you've read take up. 
  • Most Recent Message on Top: For threaded conversations, use this to display the latest message at the top of the list.
  • Complete Threads: When Complete Threads is enabled, every message in a conversation thread, including those that are deleted or in other folders, is shown as part of the conversation.
  • Always Bcc Myself: Slide this to On/green to send yourself a copy of all emails you sent from your phone.
  • Mark Addresses: Tap this and enter an email domain name (for example, gmail.com or your work email address). With that set, any email address that doesn't use that domain is highlighted in red. This is especially helpful to make sure you're not sending work email from a personal account or accidentally sending an email to the wrong address.
  • Increase Quote Level: When you respond to a message or forward it, having this setting turned to On/green adds indentation to the original email to make it easier to read.
  • Signature: Choose the message that appears at the bottom of all emails send from your iPhone.
  • Default Account: Choose the email account that messages are sent from by default.

Change Settings to Get Email More Often

You can control how email downloads to your phone and how often your phone checks for new mail by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Passwords & Accounts.

  3. Tap Fetch New Data.

    Mail settings showing Fetch New Data
  4. Toggle the slider next to Push at the top of the Fetch New Data screen to the On/green position. When chosen, Push automatically downloads all emails from your account to your phone as soon as they're received. Toggle the slider to the Off/white position if you don't want your emails to download automatically.

  5. Tap one of the email accounts listed on the screen.

  6. Select either Fetch or Manual in the Select Schedule section for the email account. If you select Fetch, the iPhone checks for emails on a schedule you specify. If you select Manual, you must manually request your emails.

    Tap Fetch New Data at the top of the screen to return to the previous screen. Repeat the process with each email account.

    Assigning Mail settings to individual email accounts
  7. Tap Fetch New Data at the top of the screen again after you've assigned a schedule to each email account. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and make a selection in the Fetch section for collecting emails when Push is turned off. Selections are every 15, 30, 60 minutes, or manually.

Advanced Email Account Settings

Every email account set up on your iPhone has a series of advanced options that let you control each account even more tightly. Access these by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Passwords & Accounts.

  3. Select the account you want to configure by tapping on it.

  4. Tap Account. 

    Passwords & Accounts settings on the iPhone
  5. Tap Advanced to open a screen showing all the advanced settings.

    Mail Advanced settings on the iPhone

While different account types have some different options, the most common options are:

  • Drafts Mailbox: Tap this to select the mailbox that this email account saves draft emails to by default.
  • Deleted Mailbox: Choose the mailbox that deleted emails are moved to by default.
  • Archive Mailbox: If this account supports archiving email (rather than just deleting it), tap this option to select the mailbox that archived messages are moved to.
  • Move Discarded Messages Into: Offers either Deleted Mailbox or Archive Mailbox.
  • Use SSL: Move this slider to On/green to add SSL security when sending your username and password to your email server. Some servers require this; it's optional for others.
  • IMAP Path Prefix: If you check your mail using the IMAP protocol, enter the path prefix required here (if you don't know what this means, you probably don't need it).
  • Server Port: Tap this to specify the port (i.e., connection address) required by your email server. Another one that you only need to configure in special situations.
  • S/MIME: Move this slider to On/green to encode your mails in the S/MIME format.

    Controlling Email Notification Settings

    You control the types of notifications you receive in Notification Center from the Mail app by following these steps:

    1. Tap Settings

    2. Tap Notifications.

      The Notifications settings on the iPhone
    3. Scroll down and tap Mail.

    4. The Allow Notifications slider determines whether the Mail app gives you notifications. If it's turned on, tap the account whose settings you want to control.

      Notification settings for Mail app on iPhone

    The options are:

    • Sounds: Lets you select the tone that plays when new mail arrives.
    • Badge App Icon: Determines whether the number of unread messages appears on the app icon.
    • Lock Screen: Controls whether new emails show on your phone's lock screen.
    • Notification Center: Determines whether these notifications show up in Notification Center.
    • Banners: Sets notifications to appear as slide-down banners.
    • Show Preview: Move this to On/green to see a text excerpt from the email in Notification Center.

    Turn Off Email Sounds

    One of the most basic settings related to email has to do with the sounds that play when you send or receive an email to confirm that something has happened. You may want to change those noises or not have them at all. To change these settings:

    1. Tap Settings.

    2. Scroll down and tap Sounds & Haptics.

    3. In the Sounds and Vibration Patterns section, tap either New Mail or Sent Mail to change the sound that plays when a new mail arrives or an email is sent.

    4. Tap a sound to hear a preview in the Alert Tones or Ringtones lists or select None.

    5. Tap the sound you want to use to place a check mark next to it. Tap Back at the top of the screen if you want to make other sound changes. Your changes are saved automatically.

      Changing Mail sounds in iPhone settings

    If your iPhone email isn't working right, the problem might not be your settings. Find out what could be causing a problem and how to fix it.