Friday, July 25, 2014

We're All In This Together-Group Emails on iOS Devices

This past week, I was asked a few times about sending group emails on the iPad.  With our district going 1:1 this school year, many teachers are trying to think of as many ways to use their iPads as possible.

Sending group emails to students and parents was seen as a struggle.  Poor initial planning on our parts, improperly setting up contacts between our Exchange server and the native/local iPad contacts, and just a continued oversight (I hope oversight) on Apple's part all contributed to this need.

I tried setting up my groups in Exchange and send messages that way but all that does is separate the contacts into a list.  You still have to manually click each contact separately when sending a group email.  If I had 50 people to send to, this would take too long.

I have tried a few apps to get my contacts in sync and setup properly but couldn't find one that did everything. I had to pay for one app to merge my Exchange contacts with the phone/iPad contacts, download another app to get rid of the duplicates and merge people together, and then, I used my Groups app by Qbix (an iPhone app) to set up my groups.  This was too much of a headache to tell my teachers so I began the hunt for a simpler method.

The method I found was located at http://red66.com/2009/07/how-to-send-group-emails-from-your-iPhone and looking through their comment section.  Looking at the date, this is a few years old but I had never come across this.  The solution is actually pretty simple so I will outline the steps below for those who have not come across this site.  I also added a step to help across devices and for future changes.

1) Open a new email and click in the To: field.
2) Enter the email addresses you want in the group from your contacts or straightout typing them in.

3) Select all and copy this list of contacts to a new Notes page.

4) The list should have copied with each email address separated by commas.  Insert less than < and greater than > symbols around each email address not including the commas.
5) For computer coding purposes, delete the very first < symbol and very last > symbol.

6) Select All and copy this new list.
7) Open your contacts and create a new contact putting the name (like Block 1) in the company field.
8) Paste the altered list of email addresses from step 6 in the Add Email section and also the Note section of the contact.  By putting this list in the Note section, you will be able to add this list to other devices and can make changes later on as you cannot type commas in the email address field.


9) Save your new contact.

Now, when you go to send an email to this group, type in the contact name and when you hit send, the email goes to all those listed.  You won't see the list of people in the actual email, just the group name.

I hope this helps others trying the same thing.  I really wish Apple would add true group email capabilities to the mail app.  In the meantime, I guess this will work.

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