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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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                                    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

                                    11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

                                    11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

                                    Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

                                    Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

                                    Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

                                    In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

                                    1. ScheduleOnce

                                      ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

                                      ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

                                      ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

                                      Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

                                      Available on Web

                                      2. Calendly

                                        Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

                                        You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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                                        Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

                                        3. Assistant.to

                                          For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

                                          From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

                                          While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

                                          Available on Web

                                          4. Acuityscheduling

                                            Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

                                            It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

                                            Available on Web | iOS | Android

                                            5. Pick

                                              Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

                                              At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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                                              Available on Web

                                              6. X.ai

                                                For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

                                                This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

                                                Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

                                                Available on Web

                                                7. YouCanBook.me

                                                  is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                                                  They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                                                  Available on Web

                                                  8. Doodle

                                                    Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                                                    It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                                                    You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                                                    While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                                                    Available on Web | iOS | Android

                                                    9. WhenAvailable

                                                      WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                                                      Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                                                      Available on Web

                                                      10. Rally

                                                        Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                                                        Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                                                        Available on Web

                                                        11. NeedtoMeet

                                                          Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                                                          NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                                                          While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                                                          Available on Web

                                                          Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                                                          In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                                                          To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                                                          Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                                                          A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                                                          Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                                                          If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                                                          Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                                                          With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                                                          The Bottom Line

                                                          Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                                                          Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                                                          Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                                                          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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