How to send group emails from your iPhone

UPDATED: Now works with most email services and eliminates the Invalid Address dialog box. Thanks to commenter YF, Luke for the fix.

Ever wanted to send an email or photo to a pre-defined group of contacts on your iPhone? This trick will let you create unlimited email groups (or distribution lists).

It’s a good thing the iPhone now has cut-and-paste, as it makes this trick a lot easier to implement. Here’s hoping the iPhone engineers don’t take three more revisions to add group emailing.

This trick was inspired by a workaround I found for Gmail back when it didn’t allow us to create groups or distribution lists (See: Creating distribution lists in GMail).

To begin, go into the Notes app in your iPhone and type all the email addresses you wish to include in the group, separating each with a comma.

UPDATE: Use the following format when typing your e-mail addresses to avoid the Invalid Addresses dialog or AOL/Comcast mail server errors.

name1<email1>,name2<email2>,name3<email3>,namen<emailn>

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Alternatively, you can type this list in your computer, copy it into the body of an email and retrieve it in your iPhone. The reason we need to type the addresses and copy them is because you can’t type commas in the email field of the Contacts app.

Select all the addresses and copy them to the iPhone‘s clipboard:

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Go into the Contacts application and create a new contact for your distribution list. Type the group’s name into the contact’s Company field. Use something simple to type later on, such as GF for your family group or GW for your work group.

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Paste the addresses you copied before into the contact’s email field and, if you like, change the field’s label to a custom value like “group mail.”

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Go into your Mail app and create a new message. Type the group name in the To: field until it shows up in the list below, then select it:

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

The group’s name will now show up in the To: field.

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Type your message and send it. The following dialog will pop up. Ignore it and hit Send once more:

UPDATE: With the updated instructions this dialog will not pop-up! Nor will you receive an error message from your ISP’s mail server.

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Presto! Instant distribution lists on your iPhone. The beauty of this trick is that it works anywhere you use the Mail app… so you can now send multiple photos to multiple contacts at once.

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  • There's gotta be a better way!

  • Thanks for the tip. Kinda ridiculous that it's needed, but good nonetheless.

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  • coliv77

    I've been using an iPhone App for months called “Groups”. Very cool UI and many other functions.
    I wish that the address bar behaved like in the Mac's Mail App.

  • coliv77

    I've been using an iPhone App for months called “Groups”. Very cool UI and many other functions.
    I wish that the address bar behaved like in the Mac's Mail App.

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  • Great idea! I have been looking for an easy solution to my photo of the day distribution list. This solution is simple and does the job. Thanks!

  • Ron, let me know how this works for you on a daily basis. How large is your distribution list? I currently use it several times a day with a list of twelve and it works like a charm.

  • Thanks for the tip! I have several groups setup in Google Contacts, but those don't work from the Safari version of Gmail (at least I can't figure out how…) so yay!

  • Thank you so much for this! I absolutely refuse to pay for an app that would do something the phone should do already. This totally works great!

  • YF, Luke

    and by the way, when using the name<e-mail> format, there's no “Invalid Address” dialog to dismiss

  • YF, Luke

    Hmm… I see that the comment I thought I posted yesterday isn't here. The deal was that when I used the email1,email2,email3 form, something added a “>” at the end and the AOL server rejected the string. I was able to make it work with “name1<email1>,name2<email2>,name3<email3>” – and, as a bonus, the Invalid Address dialog doesn't come up.
    It was way easier to compose the string on my iMac and e-mail it to myself than to compose it in Notes on the iPhone. I was able to use a whole lot of copying from Address Book to save a lot of time.
    I like it!

  • Thanks so much for this find. I'll update the article with these instructions. I've already tried it and confirmed that that “Invalid Address” dialog is indeed gone!

    BTW, I found no traces of your comment from yesterday. Nothing in spam folder either.

  • kevin

    i was also not able to get it to work until i used the fix by luke. it works now. thanks for the post.

  • ben3437

    can you give me an example of how to write the group using name.

  • ej77

    I've followed the line by line and still get the emails returned as undeliverable. Does this work on the MS Exchange server??

  • Alex

    This was awesome thanks for the info it worked great. How about setting up a group as well for texting, will it work if u coma seperate the Tel.numbers?

  • Beky

    JUST what I was looking for. LOVE the work-around. :)

  • Dave

    This is a simple solution that works great. Thank you.

  • Works well. Thanks for posting.

    I use google contacts and found that you create a contact and enter the email string in the above format, name1<email1>,name2<email2>,name3<email3>,namen<emailn> …,
    on the google contacts page on a pc and it will sync and work on the iphone. It's easier than composing the list on the phone.

  • Works well. Thanks for posting.

    I use google contacts and found that you create a contact and enter the email string in the above format, name1<email1>,name2<email2>,name3<email3>,namen<emailn> …,
    on the google contacts page on a pc and it will sync and work on the iphone. It's easier than composing the list on the phone.

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  • Name

    that was A LOt of help

  • Name

    how can you do the same grouping with various e-mails = = aol, hotmail, yahoo?

  • Ami

    Thank you – your instructions were very easy to follow!

  • MrWSM1

    I am receiving an “Undeliverable” message from Microsoft Exchange for the “group name”. The email addresses in the group receive the email, but the undeliverable message still ends up in my inbox. Any ideas how to stop this?? Thanks in advance for any replies.

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  • Safari1980

    you can use an other app
    such as GContact or GContact Lite(Free)

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gcontact-lite/id386490865?mt=8

  • Ddpaukner

    I have tried both ways to save the group email list as one contact name and for the life of me can't get it to work. A few of my recipients receive the email but not all. Any suggestions? Am I the only one that can't get it??

  • Try to keep the addresses as simple as possible. This is what worked for me:

    <[email protected]>,Dad<[email protected]>,Mom<[email protected]>

    Note that I did not include a name for the first one and kept the names to

    simple words for the rest. Not really sure why/how it works, but it does.

    Let me know if that works for you.</[email protected]></[email protected]></[email protected]>

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  • Very cool, this is exactly what I needed.

  • I've enhanced your idea by connecting to my Gmail account using exchange. This offers the advantage of being able to sync contacts and emails. As well as being able to create the group on a computer.

    See my post with the details:
    http://texasblindjack.com/?p=21

  • invalid adress pops up for me, what did I do wrong? I am not using AOL. I use mobile me

  • Fokjoey

    Can only work on gmail? How about the other hotmail, yahoo or….?

  • fredy

    amazing just the right solution. thanks!!!!

  • Cpbeaumont

    Can there be no spaces in the name? For instance can the string be John Doe<[email protected]>,Jane Doe<[email protected]>?</[email protected]></[email protected]>

  • Jefhans

    Hey, it's a lot easier to enter this in Address Book on your Mac then sync.

  • Brooette

    I tried this work around. It did not work with my companies Exchange server. Repeated attempts always got rejected despite saying send it anyway. So your thoughts?

  • Alewis

    Works great – wow you would thing the iPeople would figure this one out quicker!

  • Peter Johnson

    I have found that if your contacts are being synchronised with an Exchange server ( with Google in my case) then only the first email address survives- has anyone found a workaround for this?

    Best I can make out, It drops the rest of the addresses as it synchs from the phone, then the iPhone thinks it should change too and “poof” they’re gone.

    It doesn’t happen if your new contact is stored to a different address book, that doesn’t synch with exchange.

    Also it would be real useful to hear from anyone using WebDAV or LDAP synchronised contacts to hear if the trick works for them?

  • Peter

    Did anyone ever get this to work when you synchronize with Exchange? My new contacts get trashed within a minute of creation by synching to Google over Exchange and back.

    I have tried three different email formats (commas without names, name, and “name”) but no joy.

    Any suggestions welcome.

  • Mike

    There is a free app in the App store called Fast Group. It does it all and I gave it 5 stars. You need nothing else.

  • For an easier way of using this very same trick, our new app, MailShot, actually uses the trick shown here, but does the hard work of managing all the contacts for you so you can create groups and add or delete contacts from them easily .

    You can have up to 50 groups with over 40 people in each (if you have that many friends!). I wouldn’t like to try that manually!

    This post was pretty helpful when researching it, thanks guys.

    You can now use these groups in ANY app’s email just as though it was a single contact, send attachments etc.- its amazing iPhone didnt let you do this in the first place.

    The app is currently free, with an in-app upgrade for the real heavy users. Check it out on http://www.solubleapps.com/mailshot.

    Cheers

    Peter

  • Jim Hinde

    This technique is exactly what I needed. It eliminated the need to search through Apple’s app store for a group email app that actually works
    Your instructions are clear, accurate and complete. The screen shot illustrations are the icing on the cake. Altogether a first-class piece of work and a great service to the iPhone user community. Many thanks!

  • Ljserna76

    I use MobileMe and after playing around with the different formats in the various posts, here is what worked for me. Be sure to leave the ” off on the last one.

    [email protected]>,Dad,Mom,Sister<[email protected]