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I can't find an answer to this one here or elsewhere, so here goes. I have a friend who would like to maintain some school-based email lists using an iPad. She doesn't use any computers for this purpose and would like to keep it that way. As one of the people who organises social activities and volunteers among the school community it is often necessary to send an email to a group of people. The groups are typically between three and 20 people - think "3rd grade mothers jogging group" or "classroom volunteers".

Ideally the groups would

  • be created on the iPad through Contacts, from existing Contacts
  • send email without exposing the complete distribution list in the To: line
  • easily add or remove recipients as required

Group features provided by software like majordomo (self-subscribe, list digests etc.) are a little beyond what we want here. I just can't see how to make Contacts create a list of people and easily send an email to them without including a huge To: line in each email. Nobody is that paranoid about their emails being exposed but it seems like best practise not to, there's always that person who thinks everyone wants to be on their "funny" picture mailing list, some addresses will be corporate and that kind of thing can cause problems for the recipient.

It's fine if there's a free or paid app you can suggest, ease of use is the number one requirement.

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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

May I suggest our unique "MailShot Pro" app, which is the ONLY app on the store that lets you create contact groups in your address book that you can use from any app to send email, just as you would use a single contact.

We have tens of thousands of users using it for exactly the sort of thing you describe

  • You can protect privacy by adding the contact group to the Bcc line.
  • You can edit the group permanently in the MailShot app, or temporarily just before you send an email (simply by saving and retrieving the email from Drafts)
  • And you can share groups between multiple devices using iCloud contact sharing.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mailshot-pro-group-email-done/id445996226?ls=1&mt=8. (A free trial version is also available.)

Peter

Soluble Apps

Full Disclosure:I am the developer of MailShot and will benefit from its sale, but so might you :)

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I looked at Mailshot when I was preparing my own answer and was a little confused as to how it interacted with the address book, and whether or not a Mailshot server was involved in any way. Can you elaborate? Also, with concerns about access to private data coming to light, does Mailshot have a clearly stated privacy policy? Thank you! –  jaberg Mar 24 '12 at 15:40
    
Thanks Peter, always happy to hear from a developer who is proud of their app. I'll take a look. –  Adam Eberbach Mar 25 '12 at 6:27
    
@Jasberg, thanks for your question. No server is involved, MailShot Pro creates special group contacts for you right in your device's address book. We have no access to your personal information. Please let me know on support <at> solubleapps.com if you have any more questions. I'm always happy to help. –  peter Johnson Apr 1 '12 at 21:14
    
hi Adam, cool, please let us know how you get on, and if you need any help, get in touch. –  peter Johnson Apr 1 '12 at 21:20
    
@Jaberg just to say that even though they work in very different ways, you can put a MailShot group contact into the Bcc line to protect privacy, the same way as you mention doing for another app. –  peter Johnson Apr 1 '12 at 21:23
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I know it's not strictly an iOS app, but my suggestion would be to use Google Groups for her mailing lists. I've set up a few for immediate and extended family and they work very well. Sending email to everyone in the group is as simple as sending it to the @googlegroups.com email address you pick when setting up the group, and because it's been sent to the @googlegroups.com email address the email addresses of the recipients are naturally kept private.

Administration is web-based (can easily be done on Mobile Safari) if she wants to add or remove people, but the advantage of using Google Groups is that she can configure it so that people can add or remove themselves to the group, so she doesn't have to bother with doing that.

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The easiest solution may be to purchase an app like Group Email! I don't have any experience with the app, but it well rated in the App Store.

One trick I use to keep group members email addresses private: I put my own email address in the To: field and put the group address(es) in BCC:

Unfortunately, iOS Mail doesn't provide a way to make use of them (yet?) but you can create and manage Contact groups on your iPad using Bento, the simple database solution from Filemaker.

(Why do I suspect that if Apple updates Mail.app to work with groups, they'll also provide a way to edit groups, making this explanation moot?)

Bento reads the Contacts core data automatically and creates an Address Book library. Any groups already defined (in Address Book on the Mac) will be added as collections and contacts that are part of a group will be added to that collection. (A record can be part of multiple collections).

You can add new members to the group by adding them to the collection. You can create new groups by adding a new collection. Bento is sharing the core data with Contacts so these collections are in turn displayed in the iOS Contacts.app as groups, but you may have to manually quit and reopen Contacts to see them.

screenshot of Bento Address Book library and Collections

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Easiest way: Use Dolphin browser and log in to www.icloud.com

There you can access your contacts and create a group there and move people into the group. The iCloud will sync this to iPad contacts.

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Why Dolphin browser? Does Safari do some kind of magic that Dolphin avoids? –  Adam Eberbach Mar 24 '12 at 5:35
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