Windows 8, Microsoft’s new operating system has certainly been a controversial one, but one that comes with several useful tool’s, or in this case apps. The most useful app for most people will be that of the built-in Mail app.
Consumers on the whole, are used to opening a browser, going to their mail provider of choice (Outlook, GMail, Yahoo etc…) and then logging in as usual. The mail app in Windows 8 cuts this process down to simply clicking or tapping on the mail icon on the Windows 8 start screen.
Clicking or tapping on the mail app, will bring you to the main screen within the app. You’ll see below my own personal mail screen, which has 4 email addresses set up. That’s right, Microsoft have supported pretty much all email service providers, from GMail, Yahoo, their own services of course, and you also functionality to set up exchange servers if you’re use Windows 8 for work.
Setting Up Your Email
If you sign in to Windows 8 with a Microsoft account, then your email will have automatically been set up upon first boot, and with a few tweaks can be personalised to really make it your own personal email client, without all the need for that browser-based nonsense.
Having first opened the mail app, swipe from the right hand side of the screen, (or put your mouse in the bottom right hand corner) and select settings. Then tap on ‘accounts’ and you will see a screen appear with your default Hotmail/outlook account and the option to add more.
If you want to add more accounts, tap add more, and you will be presented with Hotmail, Outlook GMail, other, or Yahoo! Other is for setting up an account manually using POP3 or other standards that you may prefer.
Once you have selected your method, enter your log in details, and presto, Windows 8 will now automatically get mail from those services, without you having to log in via your browser whenever you want to check your email. You’ll notice that all of your folders and sub-folders show up in the app, and when you move emails to or from these folders they will automatically sync to your email service, so these changes will also show up if you access your email via a browser, or mobile device.
Customizing Your Mail
The Windows 8 Mail app has been criticized by the media for being too basic or simple, and admittedly, it certainly is basic, but it’s supposed to be. The Mail app is not designed to replace the desktop version of Outlook used by business users, as they will have their own Office suite of software to install, likely including Outlook for desktop. No, this mail app is for the everyman, the standard consumer that simply wants to read their email, forward funny jokes or pictures and correspond with friends and family. To this end, the Mail app succeeds well.
Now that your email has been set up, and your Windows 8 device is busy retrieving your emails from the ether, let’s do a little bit of tweaking. As before, open the charms menu, select settings, accounts, and then the email account you wish to amend. For the purposes of this guide, I have selected to use my primary Windows account. Once you have selected the account, you will be presented with a series of options.
The first gives you the option to re-name the email account as it appears on the bottom left hand side of the mail app.
Second, you can instruct Windows how often to check for email; every 15 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly, or manually. The manual setting is primarily for tablet users or people with a data limit. NB: If you use an Outlook account, you can set the mail app to’push’ email, so rather than checking at certain intervals, Windows will constantly check for emails, and as soon as an email is recieved, it’ll show up in your inbox in Mail.
Third, How far back in your email account do you want to appear on your device. This ranges from the last 3 days, 7 days, last 2 weeks, the last month, or anytime which will sync your entire email history. (This could of course take sometime depending on your data connection and volume of emails to sync)
Fourth, add and customise a signature (if you want one) so that you don’t have to write; ‘Yours Sincerely’, or ‘Kind Regards’, or how ever you sign off you emails, every time. It will automatically be added to the bottom of each email for you.
Alright, so you have your Mail account(s) all set up and ready, and you want to start using it. To send an email simply click on the ‘+’ sign in the top right hand corner, where you will be presented with a blank email with a subject header, paperclip icon, and a trash can. The ‘+’ button opens a new, blank email, the paperclip to add attachments to the email, and the trash can to delete the email should you no longer require it prior to sending. On the left hand side of the screen is a ‘To’ box to enter the senders address. In this instance, assuming you have set up your ‘People’ app (also including in Windows 8 and syncs with your primary Microsoft and/or Facebook account), you only need to enter the person’s name rather than email address, and Windows 8 will auto populate the email address it thinks you’re typing in. It’s really very intuitive, and as yet, hasn’t been wrong for me once.
There is also of course the standard ‘Cc’ to copy people in on the email, and if you click the ‘show more’ bit below the ‘Cc’, you will be given the option to ‘Bcc’ someone in aswell. You can also set the priority of the email from Low, Normal or High.
Microsoft really have tried to make the built-in Mail app as simple as possible, and when it comes to attachment’s, it really is easy.
Tap the ‘+’ button in the Mail app to open a new email, then tap/click the paperclip. You will then be presented with the following screen prompting you to find the file you wish to attach. Once you have tapped on the file required, tap or click ‘Attach’ (bottom right hand corner) and the Mail app will attach it the selected file. If the file is too larger for the email to send (often the limit for email attachments with many services is 10mb) then Mail will automatically use your SkyDrive account to send the email, with no extra work from you required. It really is seamless.
Managing Your Inbox
Ok, your mail is set up, you know how to send, and reply to emails, you can attach files and send them, now lets look at your inbox itself.
Like everyone, you know doubt get a horrendous volume of spam mail, and not all services will flag spam mail as junk automatically. If you’re used to using a browser-based service, then you’re probably used to clicking on a small tick box next to each email and then clicking delete. Whilst not an overall annoyance, it often seem’s to take forever.
In the Windows 8 Mail app, just right-click on each email you wish to delete and its auto-ticked. Keep right clicking on emails you wish to delete until done and simply press the trash (again in the top right hand corner) and all the selected items will be deleted. (You can also use existing keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl + left click on certain emails you wish to delete).
Touch Tip: If you are using a touch based platform, a tablet for example, or all in one PC, simply swipe each email sideways from right to left, this will select each email as though you were right clicking them, then as above, once the items you wish to delete are selected, tap the trash can and they will be deleted.
If you simply wish to delete your entire junk, or deleted items folder, right-click on the folder, and you will be presented with a taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Click on the folder options box, and a menu will present itself giving you the option to ‘Empty Folder’, ‘Create a New Folder’ or ‘Create a Sub Folder’. Select ‘Empty Folder’ and the folder will be emptied. If you would rather use the keyboard, then select the folder you wish to empty, press ‘Ctrl+A’ to select all and then press the ‘Delete’ button, this will also empty the box.
The Mail Task Bar
In order to bring the task bar up, you need to either right-click the mouse button, or swipe from the bottom of the screen up on a touch screen. This will give you the following buttons
- Sync – This of course syncs your emails. If you have your sync settings set to manual, this is the only way that the Mail app will sync with your account. You can also click on it to make the Mail app sync all your content right then, rather than wait for which ever interval you have it set for.
- Folder Options – As noted above, this allows you to create a folder, create a sub-folder (a folder within a folder), or empty which ever folder you currently have selected in your inbox.
- Pin to Start – A great option for Start Screen users. ‘Pin to Start’ will pin which ever folder you have highlighted within the Mail box service you have selected. If you want a shortcut to your Gmail account on the start screen or a specific folder within an email account, simply select that folder and tap/click, ‘Pin to Start’.
- Print – Print’s whichever email you have open to your printer.
- Flag – Flag’s the email for later review.
- Junk – Marks the selected email as junk, and move’s it to the junk folder.
- Move – Move the selected email to another folder. The email will grey out, and you need only tap/click on the folder you wish to move it to in order to complete the process.
- Mark as Unread – Marks the selected email as unread and is therefore highlighted as though you had not yet read it.
The new way of Multi-tasking apps in Windows 8. Many app’s have a separate ‘snapped’ view. With Mail you have two snapped view options; have the mail app taking up the majority part of the screen, or the smaller section.
If you are working on an email and you want it take up the larger size of the screen, you will be presented with pretty much the same as the full screen version of the Mail app, just slightly smaller. In the picture below I have my Twitter feed snapped to the left and the Mail in the full section on the right.
If just want to keep an eye on your mail, you can of course have the Mail app snapped to the smaller section of the screen. In this instance you can see all your inboxes and you still have the option to write emails in a smaller screen, whilst keeping the main portion of the screen reserved for which ever program you like.
In order to activate the ‘Snapped’ mode, follow the process laid out below.
Non Touch Screen
For this example I will be using the Windows 8 Mail and Twitter apps, Mail as the main screen.
- Open the Windows Mail app by clicking on it.
- Place your mouse pointer at the bottom left of the screen so that the small ‘Start’ screen icon appears, then slowly move the pointer up until the a sidebar appears.
- Click on the mini Twitter screen and drag it slightly to the right, until the Mail app moves automatically to the right, then let go.
- Twitter should now be in a smaller snapped view on the left of the screen, and mail in the larger part of the screen on the right.
- To move Twitter to the larger part of the screen, click and hold the mouse button on the black bar that splits the two apps, and then drag it gently to the left, both apps should re-size, and once they have, let go.
- Twitter should now take up the larger part of the screen and mail the smaller.
As above, this example will use the Windows 8 Mail, and Twitter apps.
- Open the Windows Mail app by tapping on it.
- Swipe from the right hand side of the screen with your finger or thumb to bring up the list of open apps.
- Tap and hold your finger on the mini Twitter screen and drag it slightly to the right, until the Mail app moves automatically to the right and let go.
- Twitter should now be in a smaller snapped view on the left of the screen with Mail in the larger part of the screen on the right.
- To move Twitter to the larger part of the screen, tap and hold the black bar that splits the two apps, and then drag it gently to the left, both apps should re-size, and once they have, let go.
- Twitter should now take up the larger part of the screen and mail the smaller.
This pretty much concludes my basic guide to Windows 8 Mail, if you have anything you want me to add, or any questions, either add it in the comments, or email contact me via the contact form on the site.