VoiceoverEasy.net courses are tutorials geared toward blind and visually impaired users of iPhones and iPads with Siri capability, and who use Apple Corporation's accessibility technology called Voiceover to read the screen of their device.

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Unit 4: Lesson 2, The Mailbox Screen.

For iOS 7 and 8.

SECTION 1: Introduction.

In order to display customized text to meet your needs VoiceoverEasy.net needs to know if you want to learn about iPhones or iPads.


DeviceNumber = -1
DeviceType = iOS Device

The Mailbox screen is the main screen of the Mail application. From this screen you can open incoming email message, move and organize your mail into lists, search for particular messages, and open a new screen to start composing a new message you wish to send to someone else. In this lesson you will learn:

SECTION 2: Mailboxes and Folders.

Most email applications support multiple folders where mail is placed either automatically, or by you after reviewing it. When discussing the Mail app on your iOS Device, a mailbox and a folder are the same thing.

Table of Mailboxes/Folders supported by the Mail app.
Mailbox Name. Purpose.
Inbox. Stores new mail. Messages you have read will stay in the Inbox until you move or delete them.
Drafts. Messages you haven’t finished writing are stored here so you can finish them at a later time.
Trash. Messages you delete/trash are held here for a short period of time in case you decide you need that message after all. Once the hold time expires, the message is gone forever. Old times are usually 2 days to one week depending on your email provider.
Junk. When you place mail in this folder, future messages from that sender are considered SPAM and will automatically go to this folder, bypassing your Inbox. Many email service providers also place mail here that they think is SPAM. It’s a good idea to look at this folder once in a while to ensure that messages you want are not being mistaken for SPAM by your email provider.
Outbox. If your device cannot send a message right away, it places it in the Outbox folder, until it can connect to the mail server . Sometimes a mistake in a recipient’s email address can get a message stuck here as well.
Sent Items. Most mail programs place a copy of every message you send in this folder so they are available to you for future reference.
Unread. This is a filtered version of your Inbox. Only unread messages are displayed here.
VIP. This is a filtered version of your inbox. It shows only messages from senders you've designated as VIPs.

SECTION 3: Launching Mail.

Let’s take the mail app for a spin. Find it on the Home Screen. By default it is in the Dock. Go ahead and launch it with the Activate gesture.


DeviceNumber = -1
DeviceType = iOS Device

SECTION 4: The Mailbox Screen.



DeviceNumber = -1
DeviceType = iOS Device

Beginning with iOS 8 you have the ability to minimize one or more messages that you are editing and return to the mailbox list. Minimizing means taking an application window and reducing it to a single button near the bottom of the display. When messages you are editing have been minimized, a button appears at the bottom of the Mailbox List which VoiceOver announces as, "Drafts," followed by the number of messages currently minimized. Don't get this confused with the "Drafts" folder. Minimized messages are not stored in the drafts folder yet, and messages in the Drafts folder/mailbox do not appear in the minimized list. VoiceOverEasy.net will discuss how to do this in more detail in Unit 4: Composing Email.

When you press the Drafts button, you will be presented with a list of all the messages you are editing that are in this minimized state. The first button simply states the Subject of the message. Activate this button to return to editing that message. The second button says, "close," followed by the message subject. Press this button to remove the message from the minimized list and save it to the drafts folder for later editing.

The first time the Mailbox Screen is displayed it will show your Inbox. At the top left corner of the Mailbox Screen is a button which VoiceOver announces as "Mailboxes, Back button."

In SECTION 2, Terms You Should Know, we discussed the different mailboxes the Mail app supports. If you wish to look in different mailboxes or folders, Activate the Mailboxes button or use the Two finger Scrub gesture to navigate to the mailbox list. Try one of them now.

4.1: The Mailbox List.

Here you can navigate to one of the other mailboxes such as Drafts, Trash or Sent Items. Find it in the list and Activate it. If you don’t see the one you want, press the “Edit button in the upper right corner to display a list of all possible mailboxes. As you scroll down the list, you will find some mailboxes are Selected, and some are not. Use the Select gesture to choose the boxes you want displayed in the Mailbox List. You can also change the order.

Some of the folder names are preceded with the word, all. If you are managing multiple email accounts through your iOS Device, then choosing the "All Inboxes mailbox will show you one list of messages that combines the inboxes from all the accounts. All Sent Items combines the messages you have sent using any of your accounts, and so on.

When you are finished with your selections, press the Done button in the upper right corner. You will be returned to the Mailbox list. From the Mailbox List screen, open the “All Inboxes mailbox/folder.

SECTION 5: Selecting Multiple Items from the Message List.

In the upper right corner of the mailbox screen is the Edit button. When you press this button, you are able to select multiple messages from the list at the same time. As you select and deselect messages, the heading at the top of the screen will change to indicate the number of messages you have selected.

You select, or deselect, each message with the Select gesture. When you have selected the right combination of messages, you can perform a single action on all of them at the same time. You select the action to perform by pressing one of the buttons at the bottom of the screen. When you complete your action, you will be returned to the Mailbox Screen.

TIP: When you are selecting multiple items from a list, you may want to use the Split Tap version of the select gesture. Explore down the list with one finger. When you find an item you want to select, Keep your finger stationary and tap anywhere on the display with another finger. The item under your stationary finger becomes selected, and you can continue Exploring the list without having to find your place again.

If you decide not to perform any action, press the “Cancel button at the upper right to return to the normal function of the Mailbox Screen.

5.1: The "Mark" button.

This button opens a menu which allows you to flag your selected messages, mark them all as read or unread, or move them to the Junk mailbox. Once a message is flagged, the only way to unflag it is to open the message up for reading and use the Mark button.

5.2: The "Move" Button.

Use this button to move all the messages you have selected to a different mailbox. If you are managing multiple accounts with your iOS Device, you will only see the mailboxes for one account listed at a time. To move the messages to a mailbox in a different account, activate the "Accounts" button and select the account you want from the list.

5.3: The "Trash" button.

When you move messages to Trash, it's the same thing as deleting them. The Trash folder/Mailbox will hold deleted messages for a small number of days in case you decide later that you really need that message after all. To "undelete" the message navigate to the Trash mailbox and open the message. Use the Move button at the bottom of the screen to move the message to another folder such as the Inbox.

If you have minimized messages that you are editing, the Drafts button will appear at the bottom of the display.

SECTION 6: Searching for Messages.

A search field is located immediately above the list of messages. Yu can enter text in this field just like you do in any other text field. When you do, your device will search for any message with your text in any of these fields, To, Cc, Bcc, Subject, or message body. This search cannot search inside attachments. So if you put the letters g, r, and a, in the search field, it will find messages where Lou.Grant is in any of the address fields, messages with the subject “Office Grab bag, and the message you received with the lyrics to “Grandma got run over by a reindeer," but it will not find an email with an attachment that has the word "grapes" in it.

You can also search by timeframe by putting a month in the search field. For example “January" will find all messages received in January. Putting the words "January," and "order," will find all messages received in January with the word “Order in any of the address fields, subject field or the message body. Of course, it will also find messages received in January with the word, recorder, or, border, in them as well.

You can search by message state as well. For example “unread finds all messages you haven’t read yet. Entering “VIP" in the search field shows all messages from email addresses you have designated as VIPs, and “Attachment" shows any messages with attachments.

NOTE: If you want to see only unread or VIP messages, there are also mailboxes in the Mailbox List which are already set up to do that for you.

If you wish to Cancel the search, you can Activate the Cancel button to the right of the search field, or you can use the Two Finger Scrub gesture. You will be returned to the complete list of messages in whatever folder you are viewing.

SECTION 7: The Message List.

All the messages in the current mailbox are listed in the message list. You can Explore through the list, or use the Next and Previous Item gestures until you find the message you want, and make it the Current Item. Then you can perform any of the actions in sections 8.1 and 8.2 below.

If the list of messages is longer than one screen, you can use the Next and Previous Screen gestures to scroll the list one screen at a time. If you want to get back to the top of the list quickly, try the Jump to Top gesture.

7.1: The “Updated Label.

This label is at the lower left corner of the Mailbox Screen below the message list. It tells you how long ago your device last checked for, or fetched, new mail.

SECTION 8: Actions from the Mailbox Screen.

In order to perform any of the actions in sections 8.1 and 8.2, you must first select a message as the Current Item. You can do this with the Explore gesture, or the Previous/Next Item gestures, but don't use an Activate gesture. That will take you to the Message Content Screen as described in 8.1 below.

8.1: Activate/Open a Message.

" Activating and Opening a message mean the same thing. Use an Activate gesture to open a message.

8.2: Rotor based actions.

By default when you make a message in the message list the Current Item, the Rotor function should automatically be set to "Actions," but just in case it is not, use the "Dial" gesture until VoiceOver says "Actions."

use several Set Mode gestures to discover the available modes under the Rotor's Action function. They are listed in the following table.

iOS 9 Rotor Modes.>
Mode. Action.
More. Opens a menu of additional options. See below.
Flag. Places a visual symbol by the message to flag it for follow up.
Mark as Read or Unread. Toggles the status of the current item between Read and Unread. This can be helpful to keep drawing your attention to a message even after you have reviewed it.
archive. moves the message to an archive folder. The message will remain there until you move it to Trash.
Delete moves the message to the trash folder where your service provider will delete it after a week or so.
Activate. Default Action. When VoiceOver says, “Default Action, it means that this is what will happen when you use an Activate gesture without invoking the Rotor or the Set Mode gesture.

The following table contains an alphabetical list of the available options in iOS9 when the "More" mode is activated. You can perform any of them without having to open the message.

Table of Options in the "More" Menu in iOS 9.
Option Effect
Forward Activate this option to forward the message that is the Current item to other recipients.
Mark. Toggles the status of the current item between Read and Unread. This can be helpful to keep drawing your attention to a message even after you have reviewed it.
Move Message Allows you to move the message to another mailbox other than junk.
Notify Me. Alerts you using Push Notifications when a reply is received for a Message thread.
Reply, or Reply All Sends a reply message to the sender and everyone who received the original message.

8.3: The Refresh Content Gesture.

If you want to immediately check for new mail without waiting for the regular time interval, you can do the following:

  1. Display an Inbox in the Mailbox Screen.
  2. Use the Jump to Top gesture to scroll to the top of the message list or repeatedly use the Previous Screen gesture until you hear the "Thunk" sound.
  3. Do a three Finger Flick Down. VoiceOver announces "refreshing content," and your iOS Device will check your accounts for new mail.

SECTION 9: New Gesture Review.

New Gesture Table.
Gesture. Motion. Function.
Select Single Finger Double Tap or Split Tap This is a context sensitive version of an Activate gestures. From the Item Chooser, selects an item and returns you to the previous screen with that item as the current Item. From a multiple Selection List, toggles an item between selected and unselected.
Refresh Content Three Finger Flick Down This gesture only works when you are at the top of the Inbox . This gesture causes your device to immediately fetch new Emails from the server without waiting for the specified time between fetches to elapse.

SECTION 10: Exercises.

  1. What are Inbox, Junk, Sent Items and Trash all examples of?
  2. What are the two screens used by the mail application?
  3. How can you search for all unread messages from Tony? How can you search for all messages received in January that have attachments?
  4. Mark the top three messages as unread by selecting all of them, and then marking them all at once.
  5. What are the Set Mode gesture options available when the Rotor is dialed to the “Actions function and a message is the Current Item?
  6. How do you fix the problem if the Set Mode gesture isn’t listing options, but is doing something else like moving one character at a time?

Click here for answers.

Congratulations. In this lesson you learned how to navigate the mailbox screen, move messages to other folders, search for messages, and select multiple messages. In the next two -lessons we'll learn how to read incoming messages, compose new messages, forward messages and reply to messages.

Before you go on to the next lesson, would you like to take the optional survey for this lesson?

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