Customize Your iPhone’s Mailbox List

When you tap “Mailboxes” in iOS Mail you get a list of mailboxes to choose from. That list is customizable. Here’s how you do it.

A customized Mailbox list makes using Mail on your iPhone (or iPad) easier and faster. You want to know this stuff!

When working with Mail on an iPhone (or an iPad) you often need to switch to a different mailbox. You’ve probably switched from the an Inbox to a Sent Messages maibox, or to a mailbox where you’ve filed some mail messages away, or to the special one called All Inboxes.

Switching mailboxes means tapping the Mailboxes button at top left, and then choosing a mailbox from the list. The mailboxes in the top section are “Favorites” and they’re the ones that are easiest to get to. You can specify which mailboxes go into the Favorites section–and that’s what we’re going to learn to do here. (Other mailboxes are always available, even though they aren’t in the Favorites section; they just take longer to get to. The Favorites are easier to access, and faster to switch to, so we want to put our most-used mailboxes there.)

Note: I keep saying “Mailboxes” because that’s what Apple calls them. Many people think of them as “folders” (I’m one of those people). But I’ll use Apple’s lingo here.

Can’t think of a mailbox you’d like to have quick access to? How about a mailbox just like All Inboxes, except for sent messages? If you have more than one email account this is very handy, as it means you can see a list of every sent message, regardless of the account you used, all in one place. Just like All Inboxes, except it shows sent messages. Such a mailbox exists, but Apple doesn’t have it activated in the Favorites section. We’re doing to take care of that ourselves, right now.

How to customize the list of Favorite mailboxes in the iOS Mail app

Launch Mail on your iPhone (or iPad). Tap Mailboxes at top left, then tap Edit (top right). Your iPhone’s screen will look a little different than mine because yours will show your accounts, not mine.

First tap "Mailboxes" at top left... then tap "Edit" at top right. Do not skip a step and go straight to tapping Edit! That's for something else.
First tap Mailboxes at top left… then tap Edit at top right. Do not skip a step and go straight to tapping Edit! That’s for something else.

Tapping the Edit button gives you a bigger list of mailboxes, some with a checkmark, some without. See below. Find the “All Sent” mailbox and check it. While you’re in there, you might want to uncheck mailboxes you don’t use, reducing visual clutter.

Favorite mailboxes, some checked, some not. Check the ones you want to see in the Mailbox list.
Favorite mailboxes, some checked, some not. Check the ones you want to see in the Mailbox list.

Personally, I don’t have a need to see the inboxes for my various email accounts individually, so I’ll uncheck those. I’ll still receive mail from those accounts, and I’ll still see every message from every account in the All Inboxes mailbox.

Check any other mailbox that you’d like to be able to quickly switch to via the mailbox list. Note: this list is only “Favorites.” It does not include every mailbox you might have— the ones you’ve made, for example. We will address those shortly.

While you’re in the Edit mode you can use the horizontal handles at the right of each mailbox to drag them up or down in the list. Reorder the mailboxes to suit your preferences; there’s no right or wrong here.

When you’re done, tap the Done button at top right. Here’s how mine looks. Nice and clean.

All Inboxes, and All Sent, and nothing else
All Inboxes, and All Sent, and nothing else

Note: even if you unchecked everything except for All Inboxes you could still tap the Mailboxes button and then tap any account (shown in gray under the Favorites) and then scroll down and choose view any mailbox you want to view. But that’s the slow way. What we’re doing here is giving ourselves quick, one-tap access to the mailboxes we need most often.

If you’re only interested in checking and unchecking the various Favorites options that Apple provides, you’re all set, nothing else to do. But if you want quick access to one of your own mailboxes— maybe one that you’ve filed a lot of stuff in– you need to do something else. Here we go:

How to add your own folders to the Favorites section in iOS Mail

Let’s get back to where we were. In the Mail app tap Mailboxes at top left, tap Edit at top right. Now scroll down until you see Add Mailbox… Tap that.

You're not making a new mailbox, you're just adding an existing mailbox to the list so you can put a check mark next to it and see it when you tap "Mailboxes."
You’re not making a new mailbox, you’re just adding an existing mailbox to the list so you can put a check mark next to it and see it when you tap Mailboxes.

When you tap Add Mailbox... you see the full list of folders (I mean “mailboxes”) for all of your Mail accounts. Scroll around and put a checkmark next to the mailboxes you want to add to Mail’s Favorites list. Here I’ve added two (and a third one further down, which you can’t see):

Adding two mailboxes to my Favorites list by turning on the checkmarks next to them
Adding two mailboxes to my Favorites list by turning on the checkmarks next to them

When you’re finished, tap Done. Here’s how my list looks now.

My Mailbox list, with three of my most important mailboxes added.
My Mailbox list, with three of my most important mailboxes added.

Now, when I’m in Mail, I can very quickly switch between the folders I care about the most. I mean the mailboxes. 😃 This saves a lot of time. You should try it.


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