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Lifehack Presents: Sparrow for iPhone Mini User Guide

Lifehack Presents: Sparrow for iPhone Mini User Guide

We have had some very exciting news regarding Apple products in the past few weeks, but when Mr. Vardy let me in on Sparrow coming to the iPhone, needless to say I was super excited. Sparrow for the Mac is a great alternative to the native Mail.app, so I was hoping that Sparrow for iPhone would be the same thing.

After following this Lifehack Mini Guide, you should find that Sparrow could be the new Mail app replacement for your iPhone.

First use

The Sparrow mail app is laid out a little differently than a traditional list-based app. The basic interface contains three panels that you can slide back and forth. The first panel contains all of your email accounts, as well as the button to get to settings, and a way to add new accounts. The second panel is the list of all of your “mailboxes” and label (if you are using Gmail; folders otherwise). The third panel is a drill down on the current “mailbox” or folder that you tap from the second panel. So, the way you navigate is horizontally and vertical.

Accounts Panel in Sparrow for iOS
    Accounts Panel
    Folders Panel in Sparrow for iPhone
      Folders Panel
      Messages Panel in Sparrow for iPhone
        Messages Panel

         

         

         

         

         

         

        Adding new accounts

        To add a new email account, go to the Accounts panel, click the “+” button at the bottom right and enter a name for the account (which will be the display name of the email), your email address, and password. If your email provider is supported (like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) the account will add automatically. If you have your own personally hosted email, then you have to enter your server credentials in to add the email address.

        Mail functions

        Here is how you get your mail done with Sparrow.

        Navigating your inbox

        The inbox view of Sparrow is quite intuitive.

        Inbox View in Sparrow for iOS
          Inbox View

          To check for new mail simply drag the list all the way down to enable the refresh function. This is just like in other list based iOS apps.

          You can process your inbox emails one-by-one, or you can process them in bulk. To process your email individually, you can swipe the message from the inbox to the left and you will then be given a set of options to reply, star label (or put in folder), archive the message, or delete the message.

          To process your email in bulk, simply tap the Edit button at the top right and you will see a new menu bar at the top. The first checkbox button allows you to mark all of your messages as read. The other three buttons, Move, Archive, and Delete, will be enabled after you mark your messages you want to process. This is a really fast way to deal with your inbox.

          Single Email Processing in Sparrow for iPhone
            Single Email Processing
            Bulk Email Processing in Sparrow for iPhone
              Bulk Email Processing

               

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              Other mailboxes (for instance you sent mail or trash) can be dealt with the same way as your inbox. You can just as easily move and process your mail in these other mailboxes.

              Single email and threaded view

              Sparrow has threaded email view built right in. So if you are a Gmail user you will feel right at home.

              To view your email simply tap on the item in the mailbox you are currently in. If the email has multiple replies associated with it, you will be taken to the latest message and will see the number of the mail message that you are on (for instance 3 of 3). To get to another message in the thread you can pull or push the message down or up to “slide” the next message. Or, for longer threads, you can tap the message number indicator in the heading (the 3 of 3 heading) and you will be taken to a list view of each message. To get to the message just tap on it.

              Threaded Messaging in Sparrow for iPhone
                Threaded Messaging
                All Threads View in Sparrow for iPhone
                  All Threads View

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                   

                  You can quickly process your email with the little blue arrow at the bottom right of the currently viewed email. Tapping that button will bring up buttons to create a new email, forward the current email, star the current email, archive the message, or delete the message.

                  The action bar at the bottom of a message in Sparrow for iPhone
                    The bottom message bar

                    You can also mark a read message as unread by tapping the the small dot in the messages subject section.

                    Composing messages

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                    To compose a new message, tap the small blue button at the bottom right of any mailbox view. This will bring up the Send To screen where you can add email recipients. One of my favorite things about Sparrow right now is how you can quickly search for a contact and  choose if you want to make them a ‘To’, ‘Cc’, or ‘Bcc’ recipient in one nice little package. It’s super intuitive and the color feedback makes it very easy to use.

                    Compose a new message in Sparrow for iPhone
                      Compose a new message
                      Add To, Cc, and Bcc in Sparrow for iPhone
                        Add To, Cc, and Bcc

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         

                        To compose the message, tap the Next button after you have selected your recipients. You can then type your subject and message. To make an attachment, click on the paper clip in the subject text box. You will be given two options; to take a photo or choose one from your photo library. Once you add a picture to the email, you will see that you have a nice “gallery” at the bottom of the message where you can add new photos, delete them and view them before sending.

                        Add a photo to your email in Sparrow for iPhone
                          Add a photo to your email
                          Add more images or delete them in Sparrow for iPhone
                            Add more images or delete

                             

                             

                             

                             

                             

                             

                            If you want to change the email address you are using to send the email, simply tap the top header where the “From” listing is. You will then be given a list of all of your currently added email accounts as well as any aliases you have added (more on that in a bit).

                            Change the 'From' account in Sparrow for iPhone
                              Change the 'From' account

                              You can also add more people and change the there message type (To, Cc, or Bcc) by tapping on the number of people that the message is being sent to in the To text box. This will take you back to the “Send to” screen where you can edit the messages recipients.

                               

                               

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                              Forwarding and replying

                              Once you have the basics of sending email down, forwarding and replying is a snap. You can forward and reply in two different ways, one from the mailbox view, and one from the message view.

                              From the mailbox view

                              Simply swipe the message to the right and choose the reply button (furthest to the left) to reply to the message. You will then be taken to the compose message screen where you can do all the things like changing the sent from email, adding recipients, adding attachments, etc.

                              Options for a single email in Sparrow for iPhone
                                Options for a single email

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                From the message view

                                Tap the Reply button at the top right of the screen to reply to the currently selected email. You can then treat it like any other composed message.

                                Settings

                                To get to Sparrow’s settings, go to the account view panel (the panel all the way to the left) and click on the settings gear in the bottom left of the screen. From the setting screen you can adjust single email accounts as well as behaviors for all accounts

                                Accounts

                                Account settings in Sparrow for iPhone
                                  Account Settings

                                  Under the accounts heading you can choose an account change the accounts avatar, add a custom account signature, add aliases (that is, other email addresses that this account can put in the ‘From’ field when sending an email), turn sounds on or off, and the ability to refresh your account’s contacts and labels.

                                  The default account option under the Accounts header on the Settings screen can be used to choose a default From account.

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                                  Appearance

                                  Pretty general settings here. You can choose how many messages to recent messages to show (from 25 to 1000), how many lines are shown in the preview, and toggles to show your avatars in your accounts screen and the ability to use Priority Inbox (if you are using Gmail).

                                  Advanced

                                  Here there are toggles for turning on reply to all as default, an option for when you label something (or put it in a folder) it will archive it too, and a reversed thread order for your messages (ie. newer emails will be number 1 of 3 rather than 3 of 3).

                                  The last choice is a Panel Button option which allows you to change the behavior of the panel button in your mailbox list panel. By default, the button on the top right of the message list panel will take you back to the mailbox and label list panel, and the button at the top right of the mailbox and label list panel will take you to the account panel. By choosing Go to Accounts in the Panel Button option, the top, right button in the message list panel will take you all the way to the accounts panel.

                                  Social Networks

                                  As of now, you can sign-in with your Facebook account to grab avatars for all of your contacts.

                                  Other stuff

                                  To get back to your inbox quickly from another folder or mailbox view, simply tap the header of the list. For instance, if you are in a folder called “Receipts”, just tap the header of the list and you will quickly move to your inbox. Once there, you can tap the header to get to your unread and starred items.

                                  Quickly change list views in Sparrow for iPhone
                                    Quickly change list views

                                     

                                     

                                     

                                     

                                     

                                     

                                    For the Panel Button option, you probably want to choose the “Go to Accounts” option as this gives you the most flexibility. Instead of having to swipe all the way to accounts, you can simply tap the button. Then you have the option to swipe to your Mailbox panel. It’s much more versatile.

                                    Right now there are no push notifications. Some people will find that to be a nuisance, or even possibly a deal breaker, but really it’s kind of nice to not be annoyed by endless message ‘dings’ and ‘boops’. Also, there is no way to turn off the unread count in Sparrow’s badge. Seems like a misstep.

                                    Another potential setback is that because of iOS restrictions, Sparrow can’t be made the “default” mail app. That means, whenever you tap on an email address from, say, Safari or any other app, Mail.app will open instead. This means, that you need to have the same email accounts set up natively on your iPhone as you do in Sparrow, that is if you want to use all of these accounts to send from.

                                    Sparrow for iPhone is a very well thought out and useful application, and for most people can totally replace the native Mail app on their iPhone. Hopefully this mini guide will help you get you started with using Sparrow for iPhone.

                                    More by this author

                                    CM Smith

                                    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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                                    Published on November 19, 2020

                                    15 Great Macbook Accessories To Improve Productivity

                                    15 Great Macbook Accessories To Improve Productivity

                                    When looking to improve your workflow, you need to have a proper computer. And one of the most appealing computers out there is macbooks. These sleek transportable computers allow you to work anywhere at any time and provide a lot of functionality to their users.

                                    But sometimes, that’s not enough. In so many cases, you’re looking for more.

                                    While you could go for some productivity apps, there are actually a lot of macbook accessories available that will make your life easier in many ways. These extra accessories will allow your macbook to charge faster, hold more data, or keep it safe and protected while you travel around.

                                    Beyond that, there is a wide variety of accessories to pick from as many companies have jumped onto the bandwagon of supply to macbook users. Below we’ve listed off some of the greatest macbook accessories that’ll benefit your computer.

                                    What Makes For Great Macbook Accessories?

                                    Before getting into the list, we wanted to go over the criteria for what makes for great macbook accessories. The items that we’ve picked from this list will have the following criteria:

                                    • Reasonably priced – Accessories themselves shouldn’t break the bank compared to the large initial investment of a macbook.
                                    • Usability – All these accessories are practical in various situations, however, they also have extra features that make them useful in a few situations beyond their obvious functions.
                                    • Compact – Workflow is also about space in most circumstances. As such, anything that’s too bulky doesn’t help much. These accessories are either large on purpose – for storage of other items – or are nice and compact so they won’t get in the way.

                                    A USB Drive To Store Files Quickly Without Accessing The Cloud

                                      While you can always access the Cloud at any time, sometimes accessibility can be cumbersome or it takes time. Instead of trying to access files that way, getting a USB flash drive can save you plenty of time. Especially if your work entails providing presentations.

                                      The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive is great as it offers USB-C and USB-A connectors allowing you to plug into virtually any device and transfer files and more between computers. Also, USB drives boast several hundred gigabytes these days making them solid storage devices.

                                      Buy SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive here.

                                      Compact Charger That Does More Than Charge

                                        Your default charger that comes with your MacBook is a good option for a charger, but these days chargers can offer so much more. This can help you speed up your workflow as you can be charging other devices or using the charger for other uses beyond charging.

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                                        In the case of the Anker PowerPort charger, it is more compact than the default charger. It also offers another USB-C connector allowing you to rapidly charge another gadget with it.

                                        Buy Anker PowerPort charger here.

                                        Port Adapter For Those With Multiple Devices

                                          One of the hard restrictions with a macbook is that it only has two USB-C ports. This is manageable for people with fewer gadgets but if you’re the kind who has several, it can interrupt your workflow if you need a particular device and you can’t charge it or access it.

                                          In this situation, a port adapter from Satechi can help. It offers multiple USB-C ports allowing you to use multiple devices. This can also help in organizing cords which we know can disrupt work. If the USB-C ports aren’t enough, it also comes with an SD card reader and ethernet cable port too.

                                          Buy Satechi Multi-Port Adapter here.

                                          A USB Cable That Isn’t As Intrusive Or Cumbersome To Use

                                          The USB-C cable that comes with Macbooks is small and is used to hook to an external monitor. By adding more length to them, you can have better cable management. One option that we found to be ideal was the Nomad Kevlar cable which offers enough length to do what you want while giving you more space to work with.

                                          Buy Nomad Kevlar USB-C Cable here.

                                          Screen Cleaning Your Laptop To See What You’re Doing

                                          Dust, particles and splotches are to be expected on laptop screens after a while. While you can work around these, sometimes they can obscure your vision at times. The same can apply to all devices these days.

                                          The only problem with many solutions on the market is that they can damage screens. Fortunately, we found a screen cleaning solution that doesn’t harm screens. ScreenDr Professional screen cleaning kit comes with a spray that’s safe for screens and an antimicrobial microfiber cloth to ensure you make the most of the spray.

                                          Buy ScreenDr Professional Screen Cleaning Kit here.

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                                          Card Reader That Speeds Up Photo Transfer Time

                                            If you’re looking for a standalone card reader for your work, getting a device designed for photo transferring and reading is essential. One of the best macbook accessories in this category we found was the Vanja card reader.

                                            This one is able to read SD and MicroSD cards while also transferring the pictures to a computer with ease thanks to its USB-C and USB 2.0 port options. It’s also small making it easy to carry around and is cheap to buy making it a great choice to pick up if you deal with plenty of pictures.

                                            Buy Vanja Card Reader here.

                                            Protective Sleeves To Protect Your Laptop From Harm

                                            For those who are travelling the last thing that you want is your laptop to get damaged for whatever reason. Even though you’re not likely to drop it as frequently as your phone, having a sleeve for a laptop to be in can save you time.

                                            One sleeve that we found interesting was the Native Union sleeves. They are made of tear-resistant material with genuine leather accents. Its interior is soft as well preventing scratches from your laptop. It also offers a pocket area where you can store cables and other macbook accessories easily.

                                            Buy Native Union’s laptop sleeve here.

                                            Car Charger For Charging On The Go

                                              For the person always driving around, a car charger is always a helpful tool to have when you’re on the go. The one from Anker is particularly helpful in a number of ways. Not only can this charge your macbook, but it also has an additional port for you to charge your phone if needed.

                                              It’s not the fastest charger out there when compared to the Macbook Pro adapter but it’s the highest in the market with an output power of 30 watts. For comparison, the second-fastest charging connector offers an output of 18 watts. Aside from that the charger has an illuminated LED ring for you to see it and the connectors late at night. It also has a function that ensures devices don’t experience surges or overheating from the charger itself.

                                              Buy Anker PowerDrive car charger here.

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                                              USB-C to USB-A Adapter Grants Access To Older Models

                                              If your older macbook still works but has files you want that you didn’t back up that you want this makes it easier to access them. It also allows you to access devices that have USB-A slots only. This can save you a lot of time if you are moving between older and newer devices.

                                              Buy Thunderbolt Adapter here.

                                              A Hardshell Case For Added Protection

                                              A sleeve is good for travel, but when you’re using it, having an extra layer of protection can be nice. Beyond that this hardshell case can also serve as additional protection from scratches and bumps too.

                                              Buy Incase Textured Hardshell case here.

                                              Alternative Sleeve For Those With Tighter Budgets But Want Protection

                                                If you are looking for an appropriate laptop sleeve but aren’t looking to spend too much, AmazonBasics brands are a good alternative. Their sleeves are elegant and still offer good protection from scratches as well. It also has a few pockets for small essentials too.

                                                Buy AmazonBasics laptop sleeve here.

                                                A Hub That Accommodates Several Ports At Once

                                                We’ve already mentioned a port before being a huge time saver thanks to it having various ports for different devices. This one is a great alternative as while it doesn’t offer as many USB-C ports, it offers more variety. Paired up with the design being the same color as the MacBook Air, it offers two USB-C connectors, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and SD and microSD card readers.

                                                Buy Satechi Type C Pro Hub here.

                                                Earbuds To Deal With Fewer Headphone Cords

                                                  Cords are a common problem when boosting productivity at the desk and one way to mitigate them is to go wireless. If you are thinking about that, one option to consider is the Soundcore earbuds. These are cheaper than the traditional AirPods from Apple which can save you money.

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                                                  Furthermore, they deliver great sound and are connected via Bluetooth. The beauty of these earbuds is they can also cancel sound despite them being so compact. They also offer touch control allowing you to pause, play, skip music and answer calls.

                                                  Buy Soundcore Wireless Earphones here.

                                                  Desktop Stand To Save Desk Space

                                                    Desk space is another crucial part of productivity as things can get in the way and obstruct your work. In cases where you don’t need your laptop at the moment, having a stand where you can set it aside can be helpful.

                                                    In those situations, we recommend the Twelve South Book Arc. This neat Macbook accessor can save a tonne of space since it requires you to close your laptop in order to insert it into the stand. It also keeps it elevated from the surface which can protect it from spills

                                                    Buy Twelve South BookArc desktop stand here.

                                                    A Comfortable And Easy To Use Mouse For Faster Working Speed

                                                    The last of the macbook accessories we’ll talk about is a proper mouse. Logitech offers fantastic mouses and their Logitech MX Master 3 is one of the greatest wireless mouses out there. It’s ergonomic design, customizable buttons and insanely precise movement is fantastic. It also comes with a scrolling wheel for precise scrolling.

                                                    The battery power can last for months between charges and like all Logitech devices, it comes with a USB-C connector for charging.

                                                    Buy Logitech MX Master 3 Wireless Mouse here.

                                                    Bottom Line

                                                    There are many macbook accessories out there to improve your workflow. Taking the time to do research and invest in some of the best ones though will save you plenty of time, money and energy in the long term. At the same time, all of these accessories can help you with specific needs for whatever you are doing.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Viktor Ritsvall via unsplash.com

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