Mail To Self: An iOS 8 share-sheet extension that lets you do just that

A couple months back, I tweeted that the iOS 8 share-sheet extension I really wanted was one that would let me send myself an email—in other words, to share the current thing via email, but to have the resulting email message pre-addressed to me.

I need to do this a good number of times each day. Sometimes it’s because I see an article while using my iPhone that I want to read on my Mac (and I plan on reading it sometime that day, so I don’t want to send it to Instapaper, where I might forget about it until a weekend reading session). Or maybe I come across a product online that I might buy, but I want to do more research on my iMac’s bigger screen. Or I see something work-related that I need to follow up on, so I send myself an email as a reminder.

(Once upon a time, I achieved my goal by enabling iOS Mail’s option to automatically BCC myself on outgoing messages. I’d tap the Mail button in any app’s share sheet, but instead of adding an email address, I’d just tap Send—since I was BCC’d, the email would just go to me. A big drawback to that approach was that I’d also get copies of every “real” message I sent to other people. But the bigger issue was that I use iCloud for my personal email, and Apple’s email servers started blocking messages without a recipient in the To field, so I wouldn’t get my “notes to self.”)

Just tap this button to quickly share the content with yourself.

Just tap this button to quickly share the content with yourself.

Via My Apple Menu (a great RSS feed for finding interesting Apple- and tech-related articles, by the way), I came across Mail To Self, an iOS 8 share-sheet extension that does pretty much what I had asked for.

To configure Mail To Self, you just install the Mail To Self app—all third-party iOS extensions are provided by an app, even if that means the app doesn’t ostensibly do anything but act as a delivery mechanism for the extension—and enter your email address when prompted. A few seconds later, you receive an email with a verification code; provide that code to the app to verify your address. (This initial process is there to prevent you from spamming someone else using the extension.) Then go into any iOS share sheet and enable the extension.

Editing the share sheet

Editing the share sheet

(If you’ve never customized a share sheet before, you tap the Share button in an app—Safari is a convenient one—and swipe the bottom row of the share sheet to the left. The last icon is More; tap it to see a list of available share-sheet actions. You can enable and disable actions, and you can drag them up or down to change the order in which they appear in the share sheet. In iOS 8.1.1, your settings here actually stick!)

Now, whenever you tap a Share button, one of the options will be Mail To Self. Tap it, and the content is automatically emailed to the address you provided.

…except that Mail To Self isn’t always an option. This may be a quirk with iOS 8’s share sheets, which are still quite buggy, but I’ve found that Mail To Self doesn’t show up as an option in some apps or contexts. For example, it doesn’t appear as an option in the Photos share sheet. I also don’t like that the extension sends your messages through its own mail server, instead of just using Mail on your device. (Maybe this is a limitation of extensions—I don’t know.)

Update: One of the developers of Mail To Self told me that they’re working on supporting the Photos app in the next release. He also explained that Mail To Self uses a third-party mail server because it’s the only way for the extension to work with a single tap. In order to use the built-in Mail app to send, Mail To Self would need to present you with a pre-addressed email message, and you’d then need to tap Send manually. (This is how some other apps, such as Reeder, work when sending email to yourself.) Thanks to Nav Pawera for getting in touch.

Still, I’m liking the fact that instead of having to tap Mail in a share sheet, manually address a new message, and then send, I can (usually) just open the share sheet and tap Mail To Self.

[Updated 12/5/2014, 2:45pm PT]