Flagging Mail Messages in the new iPadOS

(Last Updated On: October 1, 2019)

Flagging Mail Messages in the new iPadOS turned into one of those “WTF” moments in my first iPadOS experience. Yes, sometimes the process of improvement can create unexpected frustrations. Here, Apple could have done a better job letting people know of a change that required “habits” to shift in order to gain new functionality.


Flagging messaging is a useful and essential tool to Apple’s iPhone and iPad mail. It was quick, easy, and allowed a quick “triage” of messages on the phone to queue up priority work when you get back to your desk. In the past, you only had one color.



Flagging messages was an OK and quality feature. Lots of my friends used flagging as an “automated” habit. Reviewing Emails on iPhone or iPad was a quick scan, flag, then move on to the next. You could easily view all flagged messages to see which ones needed focus. It was quick, it was easy, and it was a habit.


Enter iPadOS. In typical Apple glitz, there are lots of glamor around the visually demonstratable features. They ignore the little things. The little things are the core items that make working with Apple product productive. Yet, in typical Apple style, they leave little things to the side, waiting for irritated customers to discover and complain.


Apple in IOS 13 and iPadOS 13 have moved the flag function for messaging. It is now part of the Reply Button at the bottom of the message. It is not an obvious place to put the function. When talking to Apple Support, they did not think to say “this is a customer with a habit that needs to change. Here is the new feature.” And by-the-way, we (Apple) added the ability to have multiple colors to the flags.



Apple added the color to the flag types. This is a nice addition which allows for a better review of messages. It synchronizes with all your Apple devices. This is nice, allowing me to review and classify the message queue with color (then reviewing on my Mac – using the flags to sort workflow).



Once the color option is fit into the equation, it makes sense for the mail user interface to move that function to the Reply Button . What was missing was thinking ahead, knowing that customers are going to be surprised. Yes, this feature is “hinted” in Apple’s Use the Mail app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, but that feature is not specifically highlighted (which is why Apple Support missed it). Dan Moren’s 13 Features of iOS 13: Mail improvements highlights the flag function (read this first once you upgrade to iPadOS).


Good Apple improvements to the mail app. There are still bugs that need to be resolved in iPadOS 13.2, but I submit those tickets to Apple. Bad Apple for neglecting the little things which are the heart of Apple’s success. Being efficient and getting things done with as little hassle as possible is the hallmark of Apple’s success.



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