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Never Miss an Important Email on Your Smartphone

by on March 19, 2018
in Time Savers, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Software & Games, Productivity, Tips & How-Tos :: 49 comments

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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 11: Use the Mail app

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

Mail app email accounts

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Scroll down until you find the "Accounts & Passwords" option and tap it
  3. Under Accounts, tap Add Account
  4. You will see a list of popular email services to choose from. Pick one or, if you don't see yours, choose Other.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

Mail app VIP list

  1. Open the Mail app
  2. Find an email with a sender that you want to mark as a VIP
  3. Tap on the email address of a sender
  4. Tap Add to VIP


  1. Go to the Mail app's home screen
  2. Select VIP (if you already have contacts designated as VIP, tap the i in the circle next to VIP )
  3. Tap on Add VIP...
  4. 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
  • Select Mail
  • Tap on Notifications
  • Tap on VIP

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:

  1. "Show on Lock Screen"
  2. Select Sound for a custom auditory alert (or choose none for a silent alert)
  3. "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 Email. You can set it to check your incoming email from any email service that supports POP3, IMAP or Microsoft Exchange, which means just about any service. To set up your email:

  1. Open the Email app
  2. Select Menu 
  3. Select Settings (the gear icon)
  4. Add account
  5. 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.

To add VIP

Samsung Mail VIP senders

  1. Go back to Settings and select Notifications
  2. Turn on email notifications for VIPs
  3. Tap on "Notification Sound" and "Vibrations" to customize the alert
  4. Go back to the main menu
  5. Select VIP
  6. Select the + button
  7. Enter the email address for anyone you want to add to the list or select the person from your Contacts address book
  8. Now when a contact you’ve designated as a VIP emails you, 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. 

  1. Point your browser to and sign in.
  2. Find an email from someone you want to be alerted about and open that message
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Check the "Apply the label:" box.
  6. Click on the "Choose Label" drop down and choose "New Label"
    Gmail Label Settings
  7. In the pop-up box that appears, give the label a name such as "The Boss" and click on "Create"
  8. This will bring you back to the "Apply the label:" box. At the bottom click Create Filter.


  1. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of your Gmail inbox and choose Settings from the drop-down
  2. Click on the Filter tab
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Filter list and click on "Create a new filter"
  4. Type in the email address from the sender you want to be flagged. Click the "Create filter with this search" link at the bottom of the box.
  5. Check the "Apply the label:" box.
  6. Click on the "Choose Label" drop down and choose "New Label"
  7. In the pop-up box that appears, give the label a name such as "The Boss" and click on "Create"
  8. 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.

Gmail important email notifications

  1. Open up the Gmail app
  2. Tap on the upper left corner and then on Settings
  3. Select the email account where you're receiving important email
  4. Make sure Notifications is checked
  5. Scroll down and tap on "Manage labels"
  6. Scroll down your list of labels to find the one you just created and tap on it
  7. 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.
  8. After it is done syncing, you will see a notification screen. Tap on the "Label notifications" check box.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 3/19/2018 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.



From Diane on March 24, 2021 :: 12:22 pm

Thank you Suzanne Kantra for writing this very useful information. It worked for me. Piece of cake. I have to admit at first I was skeptical because it appeared to be so long and complicated but I trusted the artical because Central Casting recommended it and I kept following the instructions and when I got to the end, it was done. Just like what it said it would do. So thank you again for the perfectly written instructions on how to get notified from “Your Boss”.


Gmail app

From Timbered on November 14, 2018 :: 2:36 pm

The Gmail app on android can be used for accounts other than Gmail. And the Gmail app is the only app I’ve ever found that will notify based on labels, not just senders or globally.

Yes, this us an old thread, but I got here looking for an app other than the Gmail one that notifies by label, but there aren’t any. So, posting this for other wanderers that get here.


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 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’.


Wrong set of instructions for your device…

From Lori Ann on August 01, 2022 :: 5:26 am

Don’t worry about not being able to find the “mail” app anywhere in your Samsung device, that is perfectly normal because Samsung phones don’t use the “mail” app at all, ever… Samsung phones come pre-installed with “gmail” instead. I believe you may have been reading the wrong set of instructions for your specific device, because the “mail” app is the pre-installed email app that comes on Apple iPhone’s & as far as I know Samsung devices never use the plain “mail” app because when you buy a Samsung phone, it requires you to “create new and/or sign in” to your Google account/gmail account before you can do anything else on the phone. On prepaid devices you usually aren’t even able to finish activating your device until after you have connected a Google account to the phone. The correct device instructions that you will need to follow for your Samsung phone are listed above also. Best of luck!


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.


repeated alert alarm until read

From marcel de grisse on May 15, 2018 :: 9:34 am

eNotify (play store, android google) triangle with exlamation mark, email alerts tab on that.


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


I too would have never figured this out

From Larry on January 17, 2017 :: 7:31 pm

Thanks a bunch!


From MOHCINE ARIANI on March 18, 2017 :: 9:29 am

Thanks for this detailed tutorial , your help is much appreciated



From Adri on July 07, 2017 :: 4:32 pm

I just put the “game of throne’s shame nun” ringtone to my credit card’s purchase alert emails, and can’t stop laughing.

Thank you for this.


Thank you. . .

From kiwigander on October 28, 2017 :: 10:11 pm

for a well-expressed solution. 

Some weeks back I stopped receiving push notifications on my Android phone of new Gmail messages.  I had been using my Gmail account specifically to receive and forward voicemail in near-real-time, so this situation was a show stopper.

I had found no joy by searching for solutions online, just the company of other Gmail users suddenly and mysteriously bereft of their notifications.

Your advice has worked right off the bat.  Fingers crossed that it continues to do so.



From Greg Larsen on December 17, 2017 :: 12:56 pm

On my Android,the menu does not have ‘settings’


Scroll down

From Josh Kirschner on December 18, 2017 :: 11:53 am

In the Gmail app, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the menu to get to Setting.



From Mohit on December 21, 2017 :: 2:25 am

Thank You! I could never figured this out on my own.


weird email question

From Mike on January 04, 2018 :: 2:38 am

On my new android the email notification icon goes away as soon as I enter gmail, even of I don’t read the new email. is there anyway to stop this and keep the email notification icon around until the email is actually read??


Can I receive VIP emails also or just alerts

From Aru on January 20, 2018 :: 4:13 pm

Can I receive VIP emails in the GMAIl account also or just alerts come?


Me la como y que?

From Jose on March 30, 2018 :: 4:31 am

Soy gil!



From Kuldeep Singh on May 13, 2018 :: 5:38 am




From Aaron Raines on July 06, 2018 :: 12:26 pm

This was a waste of time. Google removed the feature that allowed for custom sounds via label with their Nougat update. This is absolute garbage.


Feature removed

From Paulo Henrique on December 13, 2018 :: 9:39 am

Custom sound for specific label feature was removed. It was extremely important for me and now I miss jobs that are sent to my email, since I have to reply to job messages as soon as I get them and I don’t know who sends these messages because the sound is the same for all received emails.


Custom sounds for specific labels

From Rosemarie Chavez on July 20, 2019 :: 10:12 pm

Hello had you resolve your problem about custom sounds for different labels? Believe me I know how important it is to have different sounds for different emails or text messages. Depending on what kind of phone you have I may be able to help you. I bought a Google pixel took a back then do what I need it to do $50 restocking fee then I got a Galaxy S9 took a back know the 50 gallery stocking feet because it didn’t do what I wondered you or at least I didn’t think it did.  To make a long story short I ended up with the Samsung Galaxy A50. And that phone can put so many different tones to so many different labels. I can put as specific ringtone for a person I can put a specific ringtone for that person’s text message. I have 2 email addresses. I can put a different tone to my Gmail then I can put a different tone to my Juno email. and it also has the Vip to put a tone to. If you still need help get back to this and I can give you some more detailed instructions on how to do it.


Label alerts

From Craig H on June 12, 2019 :: 2:03 pm

Only gmail accounts can have labels applied.
Gmail app does not allow different sounds by sender or other filters for non-gmail accounts.
Thunderbird was the only app that did this on Android and it is no longer available.


More than one VIP notification

From Rosemarie Chavez on July 20, 2019 :: 10:02 pm

Can you add more than VIP notification in the email app., not the Gmail app? Because I have tried to add a second Vip but says no results found. then I went to contacts to try to add 1 from contacts and continues to say no results found.



From Gina on February 13, 2020 :: 7:26 pm

Oh my, thank you SO much for this. I just set up a VIP account on my iPhone, and it was so easy!  You just saved me $300 bucks that a company wanted to charge me to get SMS text alerts.  Now I can just have their emails alert me right away on my phone!  You’re the best, thanks!  And I’m a Tech Ditz!! Have a great day, Gina



From KAREN S HARRISON on June 11, 2021 :: 5:56 pm

Hello,  I’m not sure how to find work on this site.  I need help on the next steps required to start working.
regards, Karen Harrison


Screens need updating

From Tony on March 01, 2022 :: 10:13 pm

Good information. It helped me. However, the screens snapshots need updating. On my Android Samsung Mail, the plus sign to add VIP is near the top, at the end of the current VIPs.



From SATT on August 15, 2022 :: 6:19 am



farm stoe

From morgan Wilson on January 01, 2023 :: 7:15 pm

farm stoe


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