iOS 6 "From" field

I have a bunch of email identities I have to use. My "email address" in Mail on both desktop and iPhone is set to a list, which causes the From field to be a menu.

On the desktop, it defaults to the one of those addresses that was in the To field of the message you're replying to, which is great; and on iOS, it used to just default to the last one used.

In iOS 6 it is doing... Something else.

My list of addresses is: jwz@jwz.org, jz@jwz.org, jwz@dnalounge.com, booking@dnalounge.com, orders@dnalounge.com, manager@dnalounge.com, webmaster@dnalounge.com, jwz@dnapizza.com, booking@dnapizza.com, orders@dnapizza.com, manager@dnapizza.com, webmaster@dnapizza.com, jz480@jwz.org

And it is always defaulting to "orders@dnalounge.com" now.

You will notice that that address is neither the first, last, nor alphabetically first or last in the list.

If it is to default to one address all the time (which sucks), then i at least want to pick which one, without having to delete all the others as options.

Any ideas what the fuck it is doing? Or how to apply the Stick of Correction?


Update, Sep 2013: A year later, iOS 6.1.4, and I still haven't found a solution to this, but I collected some more data.

I tried all 24 permutations of these four addresses: "jwz@jwz.org, jwz@dnalounge.com, booking@dnalounge.com, orders@dnalounge.com". The address it chose was always "jwz@dnalounge.com". This tells me that the order of the addresses in the field doesn't matter. I assume it is hashing them somehow and picking the first one in hash order.

If I take that set of 4 addresses, and add a random address to the end of the form "a@jwz.org" through "z@jwz.org", sometimes the address it picks switches from "jwz@dnalounge.com" to "orders@dnalounge.com", or sometimes the new address at the end. I never got it to pick "jwz@jwz.org", but YMMV because your email addresses will hash differently than mine do.

Therefore, it does not seem to be the case that address A is always chosen in preference to address B. It's not merely hashing them and then sorting by the hash, or else the ordering of "jwz@dnalounge.com" and "orders@dnalounge.com" would be stable. So something else is going on too. Maybe the "hash" is actually "address of the string", so malloc behavior is involved.

Some people suggested "put double-quotes around your default address". That does in fact make it pick that one (possibly the quote makes it hash to a lower number) but you can't send mail that way. Contrary to what others have reported, I get an "invalid address, send anyway?" error dialog. This may be IMAP-server-specific, I dunno.

Summary: this sucks.

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20 Responses:

  1. Patrick says:

    WAG: Settings->Mail, Contacts, Calendars->Default Account ?

    I know I spotted it trying to use my goddamn facebook address as an autofill earlier, though. I like having FB contacts and calendars integration, generally, more or less, but it's a little aggressively stupid about picking a random entry from the list.

  2. David M.A. says:

    There is a setting under mail in the settings app called Default Account, but that in theory only matters for emails generated outside of the mail app, and only let's you switch between "accounts", which are obviously different than aliases. Not sure what you've got here, a mix or what, but some quick testing shows that if I'm using my unified inbox and press new message, that is what sets the from: field.

    • David M.A. says:

      I should note that I have no idea if this setting is new or not. Also, if you're in an inbox for a particular email address, all new messages from there are from: that email.

    • jwz says:

      There's only one account (server), but with multiple addresses.

  3. LafinJack says:

    If all else fails, does removing and re-adding the individual account settings change anything?

  4. Adam Fields says:

    Is it just me, or is the comma now missing from the keyboard when trying to edit the list of from addresses for an account in settings?

    • jwz says:

      It has always been missing there. You have to either paste, or sync your mail settings from the desktop.

      • Adam Fields says:

        Hrm. I guess I must have synced mine in from somewhere a long time ago. I'm still disappointed that they dropped mail account sync in the iCloud transition.

    • Christopher says:

      It's on the second symbol keyboard, with stuff like square brackets and the euro symbol, reached from the first symbol keyboard.

      Fwiw, the double quote trick didn't work for me.

  5. Adam Fields says:

    Is it possible that you have a facebook account set up with that email address? Mine seems to default to my facebook login now (though it too is right in the middle of the list).

  6. Leolo says:

    WILD STAB IN THE DARK : could it be that it's storing the addresses in a hash (aka dictionary) and choosing the first, as sorted by a hashed keys? This doesn't help you solve the problem, though.

    Out of sheer curiousity: if you remove orders@... what does it default to? If you readd orders@..., does it keep the new default or switch back to orders@...?

  7. Peter Royal says:

    I noticed it too. blah. at least it preserves whatever address when replying.

  8. Different Jamie says:

    Uh, yeah, this is... unfortunate. It seems like we proles are supposed to have a single identity. I guess nobody in Cupertino responds to more than one email address.

  9. Dusk says:

    I don't know, but I've seen a similar problem in the Mac OS X mail client — the "send new messages from: account of selected mailbox" preference no longer works reliably when replying to a message in a smart mailbox. (Say, an "all unread messages" mailbox.)

  10. Bill Weiss says:

    Wait, what? If I set my address (when creating a new account) to a comma separated list of addresses, I can choose one at send time? Is this documented somewhere that my weak Google-fu is missing, or is this a complete hack?

    Sorry, no help, but you may have made me happier with my device!

  11. Brian says:

    FYI, there is an ongoing discussion about this bug on Apple's forums:

    https://discussions.apple.com/message/19675348

  12. MrTemple says:

    I found a 'solution' of sorts. It's working reliably for me, but I couldn't reproduce it 100% of the time.

    Put quotation marks around the email address you want as default: "email@example.com".

    It's working for me, and the quotes don't affect the sending of the mail (I checked the detailed headers and they get completely stripped out).

    Details here:

    http://www.isthisyourhomework.com/how-to-choose-a-default-from-address-in-ios-6/

    Good luck!