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Never Miss an Important Email on Your Smartphone

by on June 29, 2016
in Time Savers, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Software & Games, Productivity, Tips & How-Tos :: 25 comments

In today's always connected world, it's expected that you will get an email as soon as someone has sent it. But with all the junk, spam and unimportant messages from people you know, it's too much of a hassle to sort through it all every time you check your mail app.

Fortunately, you can set your phone's email apps to flag emails from certain senders as important and notify you immediately. Read on to find out how to set your smartphone to keep you on top of important emails.


For iPhone or iPad Running iOS 9: Use the Mail app

Your iOS device comes equipped with a default email app called Mail. You can set it to check on your incoming email from many popular email services such a Gmail, Yahoo mail, AOL mail and Microsoft Outlook.

  • Open the Settings app
  • Scroll down until you find the "Mail, Contacts and Calendar" option and tap it
  • Under Accounts, tap Add Account
  • You will see a list of popular email services to choose from. Pick one or, if you don't see yours, choose Other.

Mail app email accounts

  •  Follow the directions for each service you want to add, but generally you'll have to provide the name the email is registered under, the email address (, the password and a description so you can identify it in a list next to other email accounts you may have set up in Mail.
  • Once set up, open the Mail app, choose the email account from the list that appears and make sure it has synched.

Once it's set up you can then use Apple's Mail app to set up a VIP list.  A special message tone will sound off so you're well aware of every important email that comes in that is flagged as from a VIP. To add email addresses to the VIP list:

  • Open the Mail app
  • Find an email with a sender that you want to mark as a VIP
  • Tap on the email address of a sender
  • Tap Add to VIP

Mail app VIP list


  • Go to the Mail app's home screen
  • Tap the i in the circle next to VIP (if you don't see a VIP option, click on Edit in the upper right and tap on the empty circle next to VIP, then click on Done in the upper right of the screen.)
  • Tap on Add VIP...
  • Choose a name from your contact list

Make sure any mail from a VIP appears as an alert on your screen, a notification on your Lock screen and as a custom alert tone:

  • Launch the Settings app
  • Tap on Notification Center
  • Scroll down to the Include section and tap on the Mail icon
  • Tap on VIP

Mail app VIP notifications

Under Alert Style, choose whether you want Banners, which automatically go away or Notifications, which require you to act before they disappear. Then select from the following options:

  • "Show in Notification Center" so the slider to the right of it is green
  • "Show on Lock Screen"
  • Select Sound for a custom auditory alert (or choose none for a silent alert)
  • "Show Previews" to see part of the email in your notifications

For Samsung devices: Use the Email app

Your Android device comes equipped with a default email app called Mail. You can set it to check on your incoming email from any email service that supports POP3, IMAP or Microsoft Exchange, which means just about any service.

  • Open the Mail app
  • Select Inbox
  • From the menu select Settings
  • Select Add account

  • Input your email address and password. The app will try to set up your email automatically, which should work for most email providers. If that fails, you’ll need to manually configure it with your POP3, IMAP or Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync settings. Your email provider will be able to provide those.
  • Go back to Settings and select Priority senders

  • Uncheck the Email notifications box
  • Go back to Settings
  • Select Priority Senders

  • Select the + button
  • Enter the email address for anyone your want to add to the list or select the person from your Contacts address book
  • Select More, then Settings and then Notifications. Select Priority senders and make sure it's turned on (green slider). Select your Notificationn sound and opt to turn on vibration alert if you want it.
  • Now when a contact you’ve designated as a Priority Sender emails you at any account set up in the Mail app, you’ll receive an alert.

For other Android devices: Use the Gmail app

Gmail allows you to set up filters so important emails that come in are auto-labeled and auto-starred, say emails from your boss. Once you set that up, you can then tell your phone to only notify when an email with a certain label arrives and ignore the rest.

The first step is setting up the important email to be auto-labeled and you can't do this on your phone. You'll need to access Gmail on a desktop or laptop machine. 

  • Point your browser to and sign in.
  • Find an email from someone you want to be alerted about and open that message
  • On the upper right hand corner of the email to the right of the date stamp of the email, you'll see a downward pointing arrow. Click on that and choose the "Filter Messages Like This" option.

Gmail Filter Settings

  • The sender of the message will autofill into the form. Click the "Create filter with this search" link at the bottom of the box.

Gmail Filter Settings

  • Check the "Apply the label:" box.
  • Click on the "Choose Label" drop down and choose "New Label"

Gmail Label Settings

  • In the pop up box that appears, give the label a name such as "The Boss" and click on "Create"
  • This will bring you back to the "Apply the label:" box. At the bottom click Create Filter.


  • Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of your Gmail inbox and choose Settings from the drop down
  • Click on the Filter tab
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Filter list and click on "Create a new filter"
  • Type in the email address from the sender you want flagged. Click the "Create filter with this search" link at the bottom of the box.
  • Check the "Apply the label:" box.
  • Click on the "Choose Label" drop down and choose "New Label"
  • In the pop up box that appears, give the label a name such as "The Boss" and click on "Create"
  • This will bring you back to the "Apply the label:" box. At the bottom click Create Filter.

Now to set up your Android phone to notify when an email comes in that falls under that label.

  • Open up the Gmail app
  • Tap on the upper left corner and then on Settings
  • Select the email account where you're receiving important email
  • Make sure Notifications is checked
  • Scroll down and tap on "Manage labels"

Gmail Android Settings

  • Scroll down your list of labels to find the one you just created and tap on it
  • You will be asked to Sync the mail for that label to your phone to enable notifications. Tap the sync message, then choose 30 days from the list of sync options.
  • After it is done syncing, you will see a notification screen. Tap on the "Label notifications" check box.

Gmail Label Settings for Android

  • On this page, you can also customize the sound, set it to Vibrate and enable the phone to play sound/vibrate when each new message arrives.
  • Hit the back button and check your other labels to make sure notifications are not turned on ("notify once" will appear under the label). By default, your Primary inbox at the top of the list is synced to notify, so you'll want to tap that and then uncheck the "Label notifications" checkbox.

Congratulations. You are now set up to be alerted as soon as an important email arrives!

Updated on 6/29/2016 with new instructions

[email notification on smartphone image via Shutterstock]

Discussion loading


Not everyone on Android uses Gmail!

From Q on March 24, 2014 :: 10:59 am

I felt that just focusing on the Gmail app for Android leaves some users in the lurch.

For instance, I have an Android phone and only a token Gmail account (to allow access to Google Play for apps and things like that).  For email purposes, I have 3 apps—the built-in Email account, one from my main provider, and one from Yahoo for the account I use for listservs.  It might have been good to see more info that I could use to manage those.



Nominal gmail user too

From Socialbill on May 07, 2016 :: 11:50 am

I agree.  The advice is pretty useless.  I guess I will try an outside app.



Samsung device owners are in

From Suzanne Kantra on March 24, 2014 :: 2:07 pm

Samsung device owners are in luck with the proprietary Email app that comes loaded on Samsung devices (I’ve confirmed for Android 4.3 and 4.4).  You can set up Samsung’s Email app to just notify you when you get email from people you designate as Priority Senders. I’ve added instructions on how to designate Priority Senders to the post.

Also, for HTC device owners, you can add people to groups, using the People app. Then within HTC’s proprietary Email app, you can view all email from members of any given group. You can’t set up separate notifications, though. Hope this helps.



Need email app that works with Active Synch

From Chris B. on August 17, 2016 :: 10:39 am

Hi Suzanne….. Hope you can help me out….  I need an Android app like eNotify! that will synch my corporate email using active synch. Its gotta be customizable to fire rules when certain subject keywords met. eNotify developer told me their product wont work with Active synch and that’s my only option according to my IT admin.

1. App must work with Exchange Active Sync to sync with Corporate email client
2. App must allow custom trigger setup to fire alerts on subject line keywords
3. Using Android 5.1.1 on my Samsung Grand Prime Model SM-G530t
4. Must support SSL



great step-by-step thank you!!!

From Katie Seternus on February 11, 2015 :: 9:55 pm

thank you so much for the step-by-step break down of how to do this on the gmail app! I would’ve never figured it out on my own!!




From ikmy100 on March 07, 2015 :: 10:01 am





From Craig Cheetham on June 03, 2015 :: 5:29 am

Great. I never thank you techies for helping me out, but this time I cannot thank you enough. You have enabled me to take off my phone the last piece of Microsoft rubbish. Thank you thank you thank you. Using Samsung Mail app now. Absolute breeze compared to Outlook.



Glad we could help

From Suzanne Kantra on June 03, 2015 :: 10:53 am

Thanks for letting us know! So glad we could help!



Nice info

From Ricky firmansyah on June 05, 2015 :: 5:25 am

very useful information and help thank you very much frequent knowledge



VIP Email

From Glen Cook on July 22, 2015 :: 6:57 am

I think the best way to do VIP email alerts, for any type of email account, on both iOS and Android is to use an app called eNotify. It gives far more options and flexibility than what you’ll find baked into the phone.



Too complicated

From jerry carlton on August 13, 2015 :: 9:46 am

I do not understand most of the words in these instructions.
I can’t find an app called ‘mail’ on my Samsung phone.
There is an Email app and a big M app which I think is gmail but otherwise find nothing directing me to an app called ‘mail’.



your explain easy to understand

From Abu Kholid on November 24, 2015 :: 4:24 am

I’m often online in my computer so rarely check email via mobile, but I am glad to be able to read this article

Abu Kholid


The way I do it

From Glenn Maurice Chavez on December 08, 2015 :: 7:50 am

I think the best way to do VIP email is with 3rd party apps. There are quite a few for Android and iOS, but the one I use is called eNotify. It gives you the same capabilities as the old BlackBerry tier 1 support.

• Override phone’s silent profile with ‘Godzilla Roar’ email alert my wife emails
 • Only play an email alert between 8am and 7pm Monday to Friday
 • When yahoo finance emails a stock quote read it aloud with a text to speech email alert
 • Repeat the email alert sound until cancelled when the email is from my accountant

By using this method, you gain complete control over every nuisance of VIP email.



very good

From jumansyah akbar on March 08, 2016 :: 3:25 am

I liked the way you gave the presentation.



How does that stop me missing the email?

From Dave on March 12, 2016 :: 7:54 am

OK so I can change the sound of a notification for an email from my boss but how does that stop me missing it????

I want the phone to play a sound every few minutes until I acknowledge that I have seen the notification.

That would stop me missing it.

any ideas?



great step-by-step thank you!!!

From blogmuz on March 12, 2016 :: 12:08 pm

thank you so much for the step-by-step break down of how to do this on the gmail app! I would’ve never figured it out on my own!!



Alert Until Read

From John on April 15, 2016 :: 9:48 am

Is there an app that will alert you, preferably louder and louder, until that email is read? 

The goal is for 24/7 workers that get a particular email to be notified, potentially while they’re sleeping, about a 24/7 incident email.



You could try this IFTTT

From Suzanne Kantra on April 15, 2016 :: 10:13 am

You could try this IFTTT recipe that calls a phone number when an email from a specific user comes in. Works for Gmail.




From John on April 15, 2016 :: 10:27 am

Thanks for the information!  I’ll check this out.

Thanks again!



What about non-US residents?

From Khubaib on July 26, 2016 :: 10:43 am

Hi what is the alternative of IFTTT for non-US residents. because that service only supports US phone numbers



Works outside US, too

From Josh Kirschner on July 29, 2016 :: 9:47 am

IFTTT will work outside the US, but certain things may not work or may require slightly different formatting (e.g., how you enter your phone number). For example, in India you may need to enter your phone number as 00910<Yourmobilenumber>. If you can’t get something to work correctly, try Googling IFTTT and your country name to see what others have done or contact the IFTTT community at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).




From Ray Treacy on April 26, 2016 :: 3:47 am

Good instructions as I kept missing an email that required prompt action.



Can't figure out why this isn't working

From Stacy on July 08, 2016 :: 8:12 pm

I followed the steps exactly but I’m having soooooooo much trouble getting it to work. I’ve spent hours on the phone with LG, T Mobil, and Google support.  Please help!


Blue Mail

From James E Bailey on July 10, 2016 :: 10:12 am

Horseshit advice… Just use Blue Mail (Also known as True Mail) Works great on every Android phone I have had and accepts ALL email providers. For Windows, tower and notebook I use Post Box, best Windows email program out there.



HiPlease help me outHow to

From Abhishek on August 18, 2016 :: 11:31 pm

Please help me out
How to set gmail label diffrent notifications for diffrent labels in Lumia950


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