How to keep iOS Mail from shitting the bed when swapping signatures

July 10, 2015

I recently asked someone on my team to come up with a simple way for me to automatically email a group of people (e.g., my team) from within iOS Mail. I’d tried the usual suspects like TextExpander (which doesn’t work inside and the shortcuts feature built into iOS, but something funky with how email addresses were being delimited would result in only the first person in the list being emailed (and it wouldn’t throw any errors).

A person on my team mentioned that Workflow had a built-in workflow to bring up a pre-populated email sheet. It does, and it works great, but that got me thinking about whether I could do something similar in Drafts, because that sits on my home screen and I’m in it all day long.

Turns out, Drafts has an awesome action for handling this sort of thing that, if you format your text in a certain way, auto-fills the subject and body when you invoke it (in addition to the email addresses you previously added to the action). It’s great.

The issue I’m running into doesn’t have to do with Drafts per se, but rather how the iOS Mail app handles signatures. On iOS I use Mail for both my personal email and work email; work because I have no choice (I’d love to use Outlook, but it has serious security issues that MS doesn’t seem to want to address), and personal because I’m emailing constantly from the share sheets of apps other than Mail, and iOS doesn’t let you specify a default email client other than Mail. (It’s 2015, right?) (And yes, I realize some third-party email apps have share extensions now.)

I use a signature on my work emails, but not on my personal emails, and therein lies the problem. I have any new emails generated outside of the Mail app default to using my personal address, because I don’t want to accidentally send via work email something not related to work. If you have a similar setup, and you’ve ever tried to switch a draft email from an account with no signature to one with a signature, you know that the sheet just disappears. No error, no actions, just *poof*, and whatever you typed is gone forever.

Obviously, I found this incredibly frustrating, especially in view of the Drafts action I mention above, because it basically meant I couldn’t use the action and instead would have to type out the email address of every one on my team every time I wanted to send an email to them. I played around with this some and it turns out that if you simply add a “space” character to the signature of your email account that currently has no signature (from within the Mail settings), Mail won’t shit the bed when you switch from that account to your “work” account; instead, Mail substitutes in the proper signature as you’d expect and you get on with your day.

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