Be more productive in Mail with these 3D Touch shortcuts

By , Jan 31, 2016

iOS 9 Mail app icon full size

Apple’s Mail is a great place to start trying out iOS 9’s time-saving 3D Touch interactions on your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus. With 3D Touch, not only can you create a new email and jump to your inboxes right from the Home screen but manage your emails more efficiently with in-app Peek and Pop gestures.

In this tutorial, you will learn about all the ways Mail takes advantage of 3D Touch to make you more productive by letting you preview emails, contacts, web links, as well as embedded dates and times, airline codes, package tracking numbers and more.

Jump to inboxes and start new emails from Home screen

With 3D Touch, you can launch into Mail’s unified or VIP inboxes, search and fire off a new email faster than ever before, right from the Home screen. To open your unified inbox, which combines new emails from all your accounts, press Mail’s icon on the Home screen and select All Inboxes in the shortcuts menu.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch Home shortcuts iPhone 6s screenshot 001

Select VIP to jump straight to your VIP folder, which includes only your important email correspondences with people who are marked as your VIP contacts. It’s nice that the All Inboxes and VIP options also give you an at-a-glance overview of the number of unread messages right in the shortcuts menu.

RELATED: How to set up email VIP list

Preview emails without opening them

In the message list, press an email lightly to peek at its contents. This permits you to quickly see the email without marking it as read or navigating away from your inbox. To pop the message open, just press a little deeper while peeking at it.

While peeking at an email, you can also swipe up to reveal hidden actions: Reply, Forward, Mark Read/Unread, Notify Me and Move Message. The ability to reply to an email or forward it while peeking is another great time-saver.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch preview emails iPhone 6s screenshot 002

If you swipe left while peeking at an email, the Trash icon is revealed on the right side. To actually delete the message, drag your finger a little further to the left until the icon turns red, and then let go.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch email actions trash iPhone 6s screenshot 004

Releasing the finger when the Trash icon is white will cancel deleting the email and instantly take you back to the message list. Before iOS 9.2, you could also swipe right to mark an email as read/unread but this shortcut no longer works.

The Mark Read/Unread item opens a sub-menu with the Flag, Mark as Read/Unread and Move to Junk options. If the email is already read, you’ll see the Mark as Unread option, and vice versa. By marking emails as spam (Move to Junk) you’re helping train Mail’s spam detection algorithm.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch email actions mark as iPhone 6s screenshot 005

Choosing the Move Message option presents a list of your email accounts and folders. Select a folder, or tap Accounts in the top left to switch to your other accounts, and the message will be moved to that folder.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch email actions move message iPhone 6s screenshot 004

When you choose Notify Me, Mail will send you a push notification each time someone has replied to that message. Emails that you’ve selected to be notified about have a small bell icon next to them in the message list. To stop receiving notifications for an email thread, choose Stop Notifying Me while peeking at it.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch email actions notify iPhone 6s screenshot 006

RELATED: How to set up reply notifications for Mail threads

Quickly reach your contacts

With 3D Touch, you can quickly preview your contacts anywhere you see their photos in Mail. After opening an email from someone in your Contacts, press lightly their profile photo at the top to bring up all the contact info you have for them.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch preview contacts iPhone 6s screenshot 008

This is cool because it lets you reply to the sender, reach them via SMS/iMessage, launch a FaceTime call or add their details to your address book—all while previewing their email and without navigating away from the message list.

Preview web links

When viewing an email, you can press an embedded web link lightly to open a preview of that webpage. You can then slide up to Open Link in Safari, Add to Reading List, or Copy the URL to the system clipboard.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch preview web links in emails iPhone 6s screenshot 003

You cannot, however, preview images attached to emails with 3D Touch. To open the URL in Safari, press the link harder while peeking at it.

RELATED: Nine 3D Touch shortcuts for more productive browsing in Safari

Preview package tracking numbers

Thanks to the magic of iOS Data Detectors, Mail can automatically detect and turn package tracking numbers into actionable links. Pressing a tracking number lightly prompts Mail to determine the appropriate shipping service based on the tracking number format, and open a preview of the corresponding tracking webpage.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch preview package information iPhone 6s screenshot 007

To reveal hidden options, slide up while previewing the tracking number. You can then Open Link, Add to Reading List in Safari or Copy the tracking webpage’s URL to the system clipboard. Or, press harder to pop the webpage open.

Preview flight numbers

iOS Data Detectors can also identify airline codes and flight numbers in your emails. Press a flight number lightly to instantly launch a preview of the flight. Then slide up to Copy the flight number to the system clipboard, or press a tad harder to launch a full-screen preview of the flight.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch track flights iPhone 6s screenshot 007

Flight previews include a flight number, the departing and arriving airport and terminal, a zoomable map with projected flight trajectory, information about any delays, an estimated arrival time with to-the-minute accuracy and whether the flight is arriving on time/early, has been delayed or landed.

All that information is updated in real-time, but only for most recent flights.

You can tap the departing/arriving abbreviation to reposition the map or tap the airplane icon to center it on how far along the route the flight currently is. Flights can also be previewed in Notes and Messages.

RELATED: How to preview and track flights on iPhone, iPad and Mac

Preview dates and times

And lastly, iOS Data Detectors will turn dates and times in your emails into actionable links. Pressing lightly a date/time hyperlink in an email will launch a Calendar preview, as show below.

iOS 9 Mail 3D Touch preview dates and times iPhone 6s screenshot 007

You can now slide up to Create Event based on the date/time, Show in Calendar or Copy the text to the clipboard. To open the selected date/time in the stock Calendar app without having to choose another option, press a little deeper.

More on 3D Touch: 15 ways to use it

More 3D Touch tips can be seen in Jeff’s video tutorial embedded below.

Are you a heavy 3D Touch user or do you still force yourself to remember using this feature? I’m using 3D Touch on my iPhone 6s on a regular basis though not everywhere it’s available, and it’s definitely improved my mobile workflow.

Related tutorials

The following tutorials that cover 3D Touch might be of interest to you:

Why not share your own 3D Touch tips and tricks in the comments? And while we’re at it, don’t forget you can send your tutorial submissions at

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • RSD

    Wow! What a great intro to 3D Touch.
    I’ve had my iPhone 6S for over a month, and didn’t know about half of these tips. I especially like the photo tip in Camera.
    Thank you!

  • 9to5Slavery

    3D touch for 4 inch iPhone please or a real 4.7 inch iPhone… not stretched out!

  • Andrew Showmaker

    How did you remove your carrier logo?

  • diggitydang

    Am I the only one who has found 3D Touch overly hyped (even for Apple!)??? First off, finding the pressure balance between a long tap and a hard force touch is hard enough… Either I’m long tapping, or it peeks and then pops immediately. I find that balance difficult to achieve most of the time. Once I do find it, it would be SO much more useful to me if you could scroll a page. Often times, what I’m trying to preview is just barely cut off. Or a webpage has banners and images that you can’t actually see much of the real content. And since it’s not baked into all apps, it’s a trial and error thing to remember which apps use it, which don’t etc.

    I do use it for opening the camera to a specific function. And for Live Photos (which aren’t nearly as awesome as advertised). Notice the above functions don’t require that balance between long press and hard force touch?

    I used to be a huge Apple supporter and loved almost everything they did. The last few years, it’s gone downhill with features that aren’t seamless or natural, and focusing on less important things (eg. obsessive thinness over battery life).