The Mail app in IOS on the iPhone and iPad has a useful swipe function that enables you to quickly deal with email in your inbox. You probably were not aware of this, but you can actually configure the swipe options.

When you view your inbox in the Mail app, you can swipe left or right over a message. Swipe right and a button appears on the left with Mark as Read (or Mark as Unread if it has already been read). Swipe left over an email and there are three buttons, More, Flag and Archive.

iPhone Mail app

To configure these buttons, go to Settings on the home screen and select Mail, Contacts, Calendars. Tap Swipe Options and you can see two diagrams – Swipe Left and Swipe Right. Notice that there is a blue button in each case. Unfortunately, only the blue buttons are configurable, one on the left and one on the right.



iPhone Mail settings . iPhone Mail settings

Tap Swipe Right and you can choose what the single button does. The same button cannot be on both the left and the right at the same time. The default is to have Mark as Read on swipe right and Flag on swipe left.

iOS Mail swipe settings . iOS Mail swipe settings

To change the options it is easiest to set both to None first. Then you can choose any function for swipe right. Finally, go to Swipe Left and choose Mark as Read or Flag.

At first sight, you might not think that there is much difference between swiping left and right, but there is a big difference in the accuracy you need to select a function. Swipe right has just one function and you can swipe, let go and the action is performed. It is useful to program this as Archive. You can then whizz through your mailbox archiving everything that is not important with a fast, lazy swipe with no need to be accurate. 

With three buttons on swipe left, you have to take care, positioning the message part of the way across the screen so that you can then tap the button you want.

The more you play around with these customisable swipes, the more confusing they become. The problem is that the buttons change all by themselves. Set swipe left to Flag and swipe right to Archive. I have iCloud, Outlook and Gmail accounts set up in Mail.

As I go through the emails in the All Inboxes view, sometimes swiping right reveals a red Trash button on the left side of the screen and swiping left reveals a blue Archive button on the right side of the screen. However, they can swap from message to message, with Archive swiping right and Trash swiping left.

iOS Mail . iOS Mail
Swipe right - sometimes it is Trash, other times it is Archive. I'm confused!

The buttons on the right side swiping left) switch from Archive to Trash too. I never know what function I am going to get.

I think the problem stems from the fact that some email accounts don’t have an Archive facility, so Trash is substituted instead. It makes dealing with email inconsistent and prone to accidents like trashing messages you want to archive.

Sort it out Apple!