VIPs and Apple Mail—Part 1: Set-Up

How To Set Up a VIP List in the Mail App on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and

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Recently, I’ve written about how to set up Favorite Contacts and how to enable the Emergency Bypass feature for a contact—two methods that prevent important phone calls or messages from being missed.


So, What Are VIPs?

Think of VIPs as Favorite Contacts but just for email addresses.

Why Use Them?

Insurance. Assigning VIPs prevents important but misrouted emails from being missed. Most of us have several email addresses and several accounts and so do the important people in our lives—so it’s not uncommon for any of us to have received a personal email from someone’s work account or to have received an email at a work address when we know they meant to send it to our personal one. When you designate someone as a VIP, every email address that you have stored in that person’s Contact card is associated with the VIP label. This allows the Mail app to catch every email from them regardless of which of your email addresses they send to (or mis-send to).

Unique Notification. VIP Alerts can be used to notify you in a unique way when a VIP email arrives—again preventing important emails from being missed or mixed in with notifications from less important emails.

Organization. First, VIPs have their own “mailbox” within the Mail app—making them instantly accessible regardless of which account they reside in. Second, your VIP list syncs to iCloud for use across multiple MacOS and iOS devices and within—reducing still further the chances of a missing an important email.

Is There Anything I Should Do Before Adding People to My VIP List?


  1. Think of the people you want to designate as VIPs and make sure you’ve added all their emails addresses in Contacts.
  2. Add all of your email accounts to your devices:
    • iOS devices: Go to Settings/Mail
    • MacOS devices: Go to Preferences/Internet Accounts
  3. Be sure that iCloud Mail and iCloud Contacts are enabled on each of your devices:
    • iOS devices: Go to Settings/iCloud
    • MacOS devices: Go to Preferences/iCloud

Adding VIPs

Adding on iOS Devices (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch)

  1. Open the Mail app.
  2. From the Mailboxes screen, find the VIP row and then touch the blue info circle at the right.
  3. To add a new VIP, touch Add VIP…, then choose a contact.

All of their email addresses will then be associated with their name in the Mail app across all your devices.

Adding on MacOS Devices (Macs)

  1. Open the Mail app.
  2. Find a message from someone you want to VIP, then either 1) move the mouse pointer to the left of the person’s name in the message header (top of the email), then click the star that appears, or 2) place the mouse pointer over their name in the header and click the down arrow to the right of their name and choose Add to VIPs.

All of their email addresses will then be associated with their name in the Mail app across all your devices.

Adding via in Any Browser

  1. Sign in to your account.
  2. Click or touch Mail.
  3. Locate a contact that you want to VIP and click or touch their name to the right of “From” in the message header.
  4. In the pop-up box, click or touch the VIP check box.

Note: Once a VIP is designated, any changes to that person’s email addresses in Contacts will automatically updated within VIPs and sync across all your devices.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll show you how to set up VIP Alerts across all of your devices.

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