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Home / Tips and Tricks / Why the iOS Mail app shows a fantasy unread message tag and what to do about it

Why the iOS Mail app shows a fantasy unread message tag and what to do about it

If you do not regularly check your email during the day, the unread mark on your iPhone or iPad is an indispensable part of your workflow. When it works, it is. If your iOS Mail app is like mine, it often shows a lone unread email mark even after everything has been read, which can be annoying.

There is a simple explanation for what it does not mean to run your account and start over (believe me, I have tried). It has to do with rules. Although you can not actually create mailbox rules on your iOS device, you can set them up on Mac, where the problem begins.

The email rules are basically if this sorts and organizes for your inbox. You can have messages to automatically move, redirect, forward or flag based on the sender, subject or content, and this is very useful for keeping clutter out of your inbox. But since mail rules can only be created on Mac, the iOS app is struggling a bit and this is where the problem comes in.

Rules apply after an email has arrived, so messages still go into your inbox before they are sorted. On a Mac, it̵

7;s an immediate process that’s basically invisible, but on an iOS device you can see that it’s working. Emails come in and are then sorted, so they appear in your inbox as unread messages before they reach their final destination. The mark should disappear after it has been sorted, but it does not always work that way. Sometimes it will stay in the inbox for too long, other times I open it before it reaches the correct folder, and often it is just tricked into thinking that there is an unread email in the inbox when the message in question has already been moved to a another folder.

There are some ways to counteract this, but none of them are truly ideal. First, you can stop using Mail and try another app. Or you can turn off Push notifications. This will give the Mail app time to properly retrieve and sort messages on its own schedule, which would eliminate the unread tag. You can also clear all the rules in Mail on your Mac, which would completely solve the problem but kind of defeat the purpose of having rules in the first place.

If it persists after trying these things, your account is probably connected to another service that filters and investigates your messages even if you no longer use it. In my case, it’s Newton that automatically filters newsletters and social media in specific folders. When I turn them off, there is no longer a problem with the unread phantom chip.

One day, the iOS mail app will support rules and this will not be a problem. But until then, it is a problem with solutions that are not ideal.

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