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Emailing to a Distribution List from Your iPad

March 14th, 2013 40 comments

[IMPORTANT: This workaround is for Exchange accounts. If you use Gmail, scroll to the bottom of this post to find the entry on creating Gmail distribution lists.]

If you use email distribution lists, you may have noticed that your iPad doesn’t. Here’s how to fix that.

You’ll need to fool your iPad by creating an individual contact for your distribution list in the Contacts app on your iPad. Enter all of the emails for your list in the email field for this individual contact. Please know that this workaround isn’t pretty. Every time you send an email to this contact from your iPad, you’ll receive an error. Just tell the iPad to send anyway and you’ll have successfully tricked your iPad into sending an email out to a group.

Here is how to create a contact for your distribution list, step by step.

First, find an email that you’ve sent to the distribution list. Copy all of the email addresses in the “To:” field and paste these into a Word document. You’ll get something that looks like this:

Then, strip out all text other than the email addresses and separate the email addresses with semicolons. You’ll get something that looks like this:

Copy this block of email addresses into the BODY of an email (not the “To:” field) and send it to yourself. Open this email on your iPad and copy the block of addresses.

Next, open the Contacts app on your iPad and create an individual contact for this distribution list. Paste that entire block of email addresses in the email field for that individual contact. Name your contact something easy to type and you’re set.

You can send an email to this list by typing the name of this contact in the “To:” field of any email you send from the Mail app on your iPad. Remember, when you send the email, it will give you an error, saying that it looks like there’s something wrong with the email address. Go ahead and send anyway.

It takes a bit of work to set up a list as a contact, but if you use lists, the extra time involved is worth it.

Please let me know in the comments whether you’ve found an easier way to do this. I know that there are also apps that will allow you to send a single email to a group of people, but I’ve heard that emails sent this way do not go through the Exchange server. Again, if I’m wrong, let me know.

-Rebecca Johnson

UPDATE: I noticed that a number of comments indicate that emails to groups are being rejected by the server. I have been testing this on a mail server running Exchange 2007. I just tried it using my gmail account to send an email to the group I’d created and I was rejected. So, many apologies to those folks on gmail who are using the advice in this post. However, one of our brilliant student employees came up with this workaround for gmail accounts. For those folks who have gmail: consult Creating an Email Distribution List for Your Gmail Account. Please let us know if this works for you. Thanks!