Some Quick Interleaved Reply Tips for iOS and Mail.app Users

Now that I have been using interleaved responses for a bit longer I thought I would share some general tips and tricks that I have learned to help speed along your replies.

iOS

  • Don’t set an email signature. In fact go into your Settings.app in iOS and open up the signature for editing — hit that clear button and call it good. If you don’t do this you will always be deleting a top posted email signature (assuming you want to interleave or bottom post — which is why you are reading this to begin with right?)
  • Select the text that you want to quote before you hit reply. iOS will only quote the selection instead of the entire message. This is great for cutting out email signatures, you can break apart the message later. I mostly just use this to get rid of extra crap so that I don’t need to delete as much in the reply.
  • Doing things right takes time and in iOS’ case it takes a good bit of time. I was getting frustrated as I replied to 90% of your contest emails on my iPhone or iPad — but I took the time to get used to composing good reply emails. I encourage you to do the same, that whole “do unto others…” line comes to mind.

Mail.app

  • I got a few emails about getting bottom-posting up and running in Mail.app and it is clear there is one thing hanging people up: signatures. In the signature preference pane uncheck the box that says ‘Place signature above quoted text’ — if you have the plugin installed this should solve most of your problems.
  • As with iOS highlight what you want to quote in your reply and that is the only bit that will be quoted. You really should make a habit out of doing this as it is a huge time saver.
  • Learn the keyboard shortcuts for making a section of text a quoted section (CMD+’ increases the quote level for instance). This will keep you from getting tripped up formatting.
  • If you want to mix and match top and bottom posting it may be best not to auto-insert your email signatures.

One Last Reason to Interleave Replies

I also find that when you reply to someone and add a new person in on the email — interleaved replies works magic with bringing them up to speed. Instead of forcing them to read all the irrelevant crap in the original email (the ‘hey how are you’ stuff) they just get the questions and answers that they need to see — all in a logical order.

Lastly if you have made it this far heed the words of Jocelyn K. Glei, writing for The 99 Percent:

If you don’t have anything substantive and/or actionable to say, don’t send the email. Refraining from sending the one-word “Thanks!” email is tough, because it can feel ungrateful. But at this juncture, we’re all probably more grateful for one less email.

Be sure to check out that entire post for some more good tips.

[This part of an ongoing series on dealing with email, to see more posts look here.]

Originally posted for members on: January 18, 2011
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