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Yes, You Can Have Email Lists on Your iPhone/iPad!

One of the time-saving features in most email programs is the ability to organize contacts into groups for emailing everyone in a couple of mouse clicks. If you’ve set up email groups on your computer, you’ve probably noticed that you cannot use them to email from your iPhone or iPad. 

What was Apple thinking!

Whether your contact groups are created in iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo or some other email service, they just don’t work on the iPhone/iPad with the Mail app.

Until recently, I did not know that there is a “work around.” It’s not hard, but it will take a little time and patience to set up.  As we use our iPhones and iPads more and more for everything, including emailing, it’s probably worth your time.

The steps to create a distribution list on iPhone/iPad

  1. Touch Contacts.
  2. Find the first contact for your new group.
  3. Touch the contact’s name to open.
  4. Hold your finger on the email address until Copy appears.
  5. Touch Copy.
  6. Press the Home key.
  7. Touch Notes.
  8. Touch New.
  9. Hold your finger on the screen until Paste appears.
  10. Touch Paste.
  11. Type a comma after each email address with no extra spaces.
  12. Double-press the Home key.
  13. Touch Contacts.
  14. Find your next contact for the group and copy the email address.
  15. Double-press the Home key.
  16. Touch Notes.
  17. Touch the screen so that the letters are all black and the cursor is just past the comma.
  18. Hold your finger on a blank part of the screen until Paste appears and touch Paste.
  19. Repeat until all of your group’s email addresses are on this Note, separated by comma’s with no spaces.
  20. Touch Done.
  21. Hold your finger on a blank section of the Note until a black selection bubble appears.
  22. Touch Select All.
  23. Touch Copy.
  24. Double-press the Home key and touch Contacts.
  25. From the All Contacts screen touch ‘+’.
  26. Enter your Group’s name in the Company field.
  27. Touch add email.
  28. Hold your finger on the field until a bubble pops up.
  29. Touch Paste.
  30. Touch Done.

The Contacts app allows you to have multiple email addresses in one email field, though I could not find a limit on the number you can have. It appears to work for groups up to twenty or so and it certainly can’t hurt to try it with even larger lists.

How to email your distribution list from an iPhone/iPad

Once you’ve created your email groups on your iPhone/iPad, the best way to send an email to your list is through Contacts, not the Mail app.

  1. Simply find your group in Contacts
  2. Touch it to open and touch the list of emails.
  3. A new email will open ready for you to compose and send with all of your lists’ addresses automatically in the “To:” field.
41 replies
  1. jg
    jg says:

    I went through this whole exercise, and then when I went to send an email, it said “invalid email address”, so obviously there is either a limit or the , doesn’t work between names!!!!

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      I just went through my steps again to create and test an email list. (I was afraid that Apple had changed something that caused it to quit working.) Thankfully, it did still work for me. Then I added an incorrectly spelled email address to my list and I received the Mail Delivery Status Notification email for that one wrong email address, but the others in the list still received the email. Did you receive a Mail Delivery Status Notification email for the invalid email address? If so, double-check that it is a valid email address and/or correctly spelled.
      If that’s not it, make certain there are no spaces in the list you create in Notes.
      Let me know what you find and thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
      • Vivienne Weidler
        Vivienne Weidler says:

        I have successfully used your instructions. Marvellous! Thanks so much! When it came through with “invalid email address” I sent it off anyway and it worked. Cheers Vivienne

        Reply
        • Lynn Huffman
          Lynn Huffman says:

          Hi Michael,
          So sorry for my slow reply. Notes is an app on your iPad 3.
          If you don’t see it on your iPad, you can swipe from left to right on your iPad. You should see a search field at the top. Type Notes there and it will find the app for you. Touch Notes from there to open it.
          Thanks for reading!
          Lynn

          Reply
  2. Pete Noffke
    Pete Noffke says:

    I found this web site on my iPad but couldn’t get it on my desktop. I would like to build a distribution list on my iPad and iPhone 5c. However 30 steps is to many for me to memorize and I can’t print it out cause I can’t get site on my desktop. Weird. I use yahoo for email. Thanks for any suggestions

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Pete,
      That is very strange. There is another way to get to my website. From your computer’s browser, type http://www.lynnhuffman.net. Then in the right sidebar under Categories, click on iPad. At the bottom of the list click on Previous Posts. The article about email lists should be on the next page.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
  3. Zach Waters
    Zach Waters says:

    Another suggestion . . . create the list with e-mail addresses and commas on a computer (much faster with keyboard, etc.) and then e-mail it to yourself. Open it on your iPhone/iPad and copy it from there. Saves a lot of time on the smaller device. My two cents!

    Reply
  4. Harmon
    Harmon says:

    Why not just go on your mac, create an email to everyone you want in the group, and copy the resulting list of emails to paste in your new contact listing?

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Harmon,
      You can do that on your Mac too! The article was just to show how to do it on an iPad or iPhone.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Astrid,
      Unfortunately, I have no idea whether this would work on a Galaxy S6. I say try it and see!
      Let me know if it works so that other readers will too.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
  5. Susan
    Susan says:

    Hi – I just found this and tried it on my ipad. I had the same issue that a few folks mentioned in the comments regarding invalid distribution list, but sent it anyway. I included myself on the distribution list. The weird thing is that when I view the email in my inbox (as it was sent to me as well), the recipients are listed in both the To line and the BCC line. Do you know if people tend to get these emails twice? Thanks in advance for any insight. Susan

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Susan,
      Did you send the email via the Contacts app and NOT by going through the Mail app? It ONLY works if you touch the Group name in Contacts and then touch the email address that you can see (the rest cannot be seen but are there). This will immediately open as a new Message to compose and send. You can touch the To: line and see all the email addresses that are in your group. This should not populate the BCC field. Let me know if it works for you now or if you still have the same problem.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
  6. Maggsy
    Maggsy says:

    Hi
    I’ve lost the list that shows all of my emails to the side of the current one, how do I get it back please help as I Carnot go into my husbands emails help

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Maggsy,
      A couple of suggestions. If the first one works, you don’t need to try the second one.
      1. Close the Mail app like this: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201330. Now open the Mail app again.
      2. Completely turn off your iPad, where you must “slide to power off.” Then turn it back on and open the Mail app.
      I wonder if your Mail on the iPad was stuck trying to download or send an email. If neither of my suggestions helps, then access your email from a computer and see if there is a large email coming in or that needs to be sent.
      Please let me know the outcome and thanks for asking!
      Lynn

      Reply
  7. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    This has been extremely helpful. I do have one question and am desperately hoping for an answer. I added my contacts in my IPad and then again on my Mac(wanted first and last names, not just emails) anyhow- I am trying to send daily emails to about 20 people for a premiere soccer club. I have to have all the recipients BCC; does this mean I have to use my list, yet send the same email 19 separate times?! I’m so confused and wasn’t given any direction. They want all parents to receive the same email updates, but want all other parent emails hidden (BCC’d) which seems silly. HELP! Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Jessica,
      No, you don’t have to send the email 19 times, but you will need to send them from your Mac instead of your iPad, because of the bcc limitations with the method I described in this post.
      I am assuming that you use the Mail and Contacts apps that come on your Mac and you have your Gmail account connected to that.
      In case you haven’t been able to set up your soccer group on your Mac, here are some easy-to-follow instructions: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-create-a-basic-contact-group-in-mac-os-x-li.html
      Once the group is set up, to email everyone bcc, open a new email message to compose.
      In the “To:” field, enter/select your own email address.
      If Bcc isn’t showing, click on the horizontal lines beside the airplane (send) icon and select bcc.
      Then, in the “Bcc:” field, type the name of your soccer group. If you named your iPad group the same thing as your Mac group, select the Mac group, which is the one that does not show the email addresses.
      That’s it. You will receive the message and each of your recipients will as well and only see your email address.
      Let me know if you still have questions.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
  8. John
    John says:

    Hi Lynn,
    This is very useful. Thanks.
    Now how can I forward an email to this group that I have set up?
    Say you were to send me an email and I would like to forward it on to my group?
    How is this done? Frustrated and I have yet to find a way…
    Thoughts?
    Thanks John

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi John,
      Well, it partly depends on which device you want to use for forwarding the email.
      If you want to forward an email from an iPhone or iPad, there really isn’t a good way with the built-in mail app. However, if you will create a group the way I described in this past article Yes, You Can Have Email Lists on Your iPhone/iPad, then go to my actual article on my website and copy the URL. When you click on the group email list to send an email, you can paste the link to my article (or anything else) into the message part of the email and send it to a group. It’s not forwarding an email, but it’s a work around that allows you to email a group from an iPhone/iPad.
      If your question pertains to forwarding an email to a group from a computer, I need to know what program you are using for email.
      Let me know if you have further questions and thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
  9. Charlene
    Charlene says:

    I have set up several distribution lists with the instructions above, but it only sends the email to the first person on the distribution list – any ideas why or what am I doing wrong?

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Charlene,
      I’ve tried to duplicate your problem, and I just can’t figure out what’s going wrong. When you are trying to send an email to your distribution list, you find the distribution list “contact” in Contacts and touch the string of emails (which you can only see one and maybe part of another), then what happens? A new email message to be composed should open with the first email in your list, an “&” and a number representing the rest of the emails in your list. What do you see?
      Answer back and hopefully we can solve this!
      Lynn

      Reply
  10. Susan
    Susan says:

    This process worked on my iPad, thus I’m very grateful, Lynn. Since I use mobile devices more than any fixed computer, this group list is very helpful. If I can do at my youthful age of 68, then it’s likely workable for others. I always joke that we need a five-year-old handy at all times!

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Susan,
      I’m late replying, but I’m so glad this was helpful to you. Congrats to you for continuing to learn as our technology changes. You’ll be ready for the future!
      Thanks for reading,
      Lynn

      Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi David,
      Sorry for my late reply. Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with Outlook on an iPad.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Lind,
      Notes is an app on your iPhone or iPad. If you don’t see it on your device, you can swipe from left to right and you should see a search field at the top. Type Notes there and it will find the app for you. Touch Notes from there to open it.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
  11. Lind
    Lind says:

    continuation of my last email, it says to go to “home”. At the risk of sounding like a moron, where is “home”???

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Lind,
      Home is the indented button your iPhone or iPad. It’s sometimes called the Home key or button.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
  12. Erl
    Erl says:

    I created the list taking some emails from my contacts & typing in others. I forwarded a msg from my mail & got an invalid reply but sent it anyway & it went into my outbox? What did I do wrong or did it actually go out?

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Erl,
      This will not work as easily for forwarding. To send NEW messages to a group you do it by going to Contacts, and touching the email list after you open that group’s contact.
      To FORWARD an existing email message, you first need to go to Contacts, open your group contact and hold your finger on the email list until you see Copy. Touch Copy. Go back to Mail. Hold you finger on the To: field of the message you are forwarding until you see Paste and touch Paste.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply
  13. Paul Palmer
    Paul Palmer says:

    Did I leave this question correctly? I’ve never done this before? Regards…Paul
    My question attached…

    “Great, I can now use a sort of ‘group’ of 100 people within one contact to email. Will save me getting my laptop out to do thus thanks. I also want to add these 100 people, regularly, to a new calendar booking but it says the long continuous list of emails is an invalid email one and will not let me book the lunch! How can I add these 100 people to a new calendar entry please? Regards…Paul Palmer”

    Reply
    • Lynn Huffman
      Lynn Huffman says:

      Hi Paul,
      Yes, you did leave the question correctly. Are you trying to add the group of 100 as Invitees?
      If so, have you tried this? Open your group in Contacts. Hold your finger on the list (what you can see) of email addresses until you see Copy. Touch Copy. Go to Calendars and enter or edit your event, touch Invitees, hold your finger on the To: field until you see Paste and touch Paste. Then touch Done.
      Let me know if this was your question and whether or not this works.
      Thanks for reading!
      Lynn

      Reply

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