Mobilize Your Email

Gone are the days of working from 9-6, switchboard operators that place calls for you, and the Sunday pot roast (in my home at least). The modern business person is wired into their job. Smart phones, tablets, laptops and Wi-Fi allow us instant access to work. We wake up and drink single serve instant roast coffee; catch our favorite radio program on a pod-cast  while reviewing the night’s email messages. Wait, you said reviewing the night’s email messages, how can we do that if our work email is well, at work? Fear not friend, today we are going to go through mobilizing your email.

Skip past the techno-talk and get straight to the setting up your iPhone.

The first thing you need to understand is what an email address is and how it gets from the sender’s fingertips to your computer screen. Let’s take it step by step.  Someone wants to contact you, so they open up their email client (or webmail) type a quick message, address it you and click send. The email goes from their computer, across the internet to your mail server. A mail server is an email host like hotmail or part of a web server like Godaddy.  The mail server routes the email to you, where you can check it either in a webmail interface (think Hotmail or Yahoo) or it is downloaded into an email client. Email clients are programs that you run on your computer, i.e. Microsoft’s Outlook, Mozilla’s Thunderbird or Apple’s Mail.

Now, onto mobilizing your email. If you are using something like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or even AOL you have access to a nice webmail interface. Webmail means you can open any browser (another program that you use to browse the internet – think Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari) on any computer, phone, or tablet and check your email. Your email is always there, you flag a message “to do” at home, and it’s flagged “to do” when you get to work! Webmail is great! But wait, there is one downside. Webmail doesn’t “push” your messages to you. You must go online, type, log-in, and then check your messages. You have to refresh the page to see if you have new messages once you are logged in, which means you are stuck hitting refresh if you are waiting on a message. All of that typing is even more of a hassle on your phone. How do we solve for this – start using email clients!

Email clients work by connecting to your mail server and sending email out through your mail server and downloading your email into the client from your server. Using an email client is especially important for mobile and tablet users because of the “push” feature. Just like text messages, emails that come through the phone’s email client will notify you, keeping you up to speed with your consumers. Data, in this case email, is “pushed” when a devise, say your iPhone, periodically connects to the mail server and checks for new messages. If a new message is there, it automatically downloads it, and then notifies you through a visual icon or message and with vibration or sound.

There are a few different ways to connect your email client to your email server so be sure to pick the best one for you.

POP3 - This is the most common and usually default setting. Using POP3 will download a copy of your email to the email client while still leaving the original copy on the e-mail  server. This is great if you only check your email on one computer and never use the webmail interface or any other device. Remember what you do in POP3 stays in POP3. If you have Outlook at home and Outlook at work and Mail on your phone; messages read at home will still appear as new messages at work and on your phone.

IMAP - This is what you want to use if you are truly mobilized. IMAP syncs your mail across all of your devices. Think of the mail server or host as a central hub where the real email is stored. When you interact with a message at home, your phone and your office computer know it. Large email inboxes can be slow with this method because all of the mail and attachments are stored on the mail server, but for the mobilized user, this is your best pick, unless you have access to Exchange.

Exchange (MAPI) is like IMAP on steroids and if you are a power user but don’t have access to your own exchange consider getting a hosted exchange server. In the past Exchange servers were only available as servers that large corporations and universities housed in buildings on campus. Today, individuals can use  Microsoft Exchange Online and Google Business Apps. Each gives you a robust webmail application that can sync your calendar, email and contacts across all of your devices and through any number of email clients.

Now that you know how the email travels across the internet, let’s get it into your phone. Each of the email clients we have discussed follow the same basic format. Open the application, start the set-up process. Enter your email address, password and server settings. You can usually set up how often you want the mail to be checked and your signature. Today we are going to go over setting up an IMAP email account on the iPhone.

Setting up IMAP on the iPhone.

  1. Tap the Settings icon on your Home screen.
  2. Scroll down and tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  3. Tap Add Account…
  4. Choose Other (If you see your mail host, i.e. Gmail, click that instead)
  5. Tap Add Mail Account  under the Mail heading
  6. Enter your Name, Email and Password. You can also create a description (like Work Email).
    Click Next
  7. Make sure IMAP is selected. Then fill out your Incoming and Outgoing mail server information. Some mail servers give this information to you in the webmail interface, otherwise contact your webmaster for the server settings.
  8. Click Next and you’re done!

Now you have access to your email on the go!

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