How to Read Messages in Your iPad's Mail App - dummies

How to Read Messages in Your iPad’s Mail App

To read your mail on your iPad, tap the Mail icon on the Home screen. Remember that what appears onscreen depends on whether you’re holding the iPad in landscape or portrait mode, and what was on the screen the last time you opened the Mail app:

  • Landscape: With the iPad in landscape mode, you see All Inboxes at the top of the Mailboxes section, which, as its name suggests, is a repository for all the messages across all your accounts. The number to the right of All Inboxes (46,922 in Figure 5-6) matches the number (or abbreviated shortcut) on the Mail icon on your Home page. Again, it’s the cumulative tally of unread messages across all your accounts.

    Below the All Inboxes listing are the inboxes for your individual accounts. The number to the right of them, as you’d expect, is the number of unread messages in those accounts (39,415 in Gmail and 6,291 in AOL in the example shown).

    If you tap an account, you see the available subfolders for that account (Drafts, Sent Mail, Trash, and so on).

    One of these accounts is the VIP Mailbox. The VIP Mailbox lists all the messages from senders you deem the most important.

    Depending on the last time the Mail app was open, you may alternatively see previews of the actual messages in your inbox in the left panel. Previews show the name of the sender, the time a message arrived, the subject header, and the first two lines of the message. (In Settings, you can change the number of lines shown in the preview from one line to five. Or you can show no preview lines.)


  • Portrait: When you hold the iPad in portrait mode, the last incoming message fills the entire screen. You have to tap an Inbox button (in the upper-left corner of the screen) to summon a panel that shows other accounts or message previews. You can also summon the panel by swiping from the left edge of the screen to the right. These overlay the message that otherwise fills the screen.


Messages display in threads, or conversations, making them easy to follow. Of course, you can still view accounts individually. Follow these steps to read your e-mail:

  1. If the e-mail mailbox you want to see isn’t front and center, tap the Mailboxes button in the upper-left corner of the screen to summon the appropriate one.

    Again, this button may say All Inboxes or some other folder name, and it may say the name of the e-mail account that is currently open. Within an e-mail account, you can see the number of unread messages in each mailbox.

  2. (Optional) Swipe down and release the left panel listing your accounts to summon new messages.

    You know the iPad is searching for new mail when you see a spinning gear.

  3. Swipe down one of the inboxes or accounts to refresh those specific mailboxes. To summon the unified inbox, tap All Inboxes instead.

    If a blue dot appears next to a message, the message hasn’t been read.

  4. Tap a message to read it.

  5. When you’re done reading, tap the Mailboxes button in the upper-left corner of the message.

    The button carries different names depending on which account you have open. For example, it may say Exchange, Inbox, or something else.

  6. Read additional messages.

    When a message is onscreen, the buttons for managing incoming messages appear at the top, most of which you’re already familiar with.

    • In portrait mode: Tap the up/down arrows that correspond to the next or previous message.

    • In landscape mode (and from within an account): Tap a preview listing to the left of a message to read the next or previous message or any other visible message on the list. Scroll up or down to find other messages you may want to read.