Emails on a Smartphone: Do and Don’t

I have started to regularly read emails on my smartphone 2 years ago. The default email settings are not always the most efficient ones for our work. Moreover, we can and should use the smartphone only up to a certain extent – definitely not handling emails through a smartphone the same way we handle them from our desktop Outlook.

When I say “read emails on a smartphone” I mean using a smartphone application (as opposed to using browser running Outlook Web Access). I’m using the email application on a smartphone running Android, while connecting through Exchange to the organizational email. I had to enter my organizational username/password credentials and that’s about it. It also required me to apply PIN password for my smartphone enter screen, but this really depends on your organization policy regarding email access through smartphones.


Do and Don’t

I would start by saying that emails on a smartphone should be done smartly and carefully, meaning using it mainly for 2 purposes:

  1. Reading emails
  2. Replying on urgent emails

Don’t try to do beyond that, as it would probably result inefficient usage of your time. Examples of what I do not recommend to do:

  1. Categorizing emails and/or moving them to folders. Android don’t have the option of putting categories on emails (and I believe other smartphone OSs don’t have such option either). Even if my smartphone email application would have, it would be probably much much slower than using the desktop Outlook.
  2. Replying on meeting invitations. Don’t. First of all, you can’t see your calendar easily like in Outlook, so what most people end up doing is accepting the meeting blindly, which is really not the recommended way. Read “how should we handle a calendar invitation?” for more details. Secondly, I heard about many cases where the sync of the Outlook on such smartphone-accept/reject action doesn’t end up well (meaning things are not being updated correctly on the smartphone->outlook direction).
  3. Reply on your emails. Be very selective here. Typing answers using smartphone is slower and problematic – it is harder to do highlighting, bolding, bullets, text correctness checking, etc. I recommend to reply on emails only when:
    1. You have a short reply (1-2 sentences) that can move things forward.
    2. Urgent email to handle. Here is the trap – people tend to give urgency to items that are not urgent, so stay on guard here.

To sum up, it is better to leave the above items to the time when you are near your desktop Outlook – it will be much faster, much accurate and much easier than your smartphone.

Enhancing the email experience

Now let’s see how we can make our emails reading experience better when we use our smartphone. In order to have a similar experience to the desktop Outlook, we should configure the below 2 items. Now don’t set your expectations too high – Outlook is far richer, more enhanced, and easier to use then any smartphone would ever be. Still, we can apply a few simple configurations that will enhance our email reading experience.


If you are using the automatic-BCC option on your Outlook (see “The secret of BCC”), you should have the same experience on your smartphone. Go to your advanced setting on your email application and check the copy-me-as-BCC option.

Emails by Conversation

One of the recommendations we had in this blog was looking at email threads as conversations (see “adjusting our outlook messages pane: sorting”). We want to have the same experience on our smartphone. Go to your email application settings and request to see emails gathered as a conversation.

That’s about it. Use your smartphone smartly, don’t abuse the experience.

Published by

Erez Morabia

I’m an engineer and a leader in the computer software industry which is passionate about leading teams, embracing new technologies and improving soft skills for work efficiency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *