Why you should turn off your mobile email signature and embrace the brief message

The default mobile signature on iOS mail is “sent from my iPhone” or “sent from my iPad.”

It came into being as a way to excuse the brevity and occasional typos of messages sent from mobile devices. A respondent wasn’t being rude or sloppy: she was writing from her phone. It was also, notes Jessica Bennett at the NYT, “a genius little bit of branding” for Apple.

These days many people mix it up with something original: “Sent en route.” “Sent on the fly.” “Sent from the room where it happens.”

Some people turn it off altogether. Bennett did as much — “it turns out, you actually have nothing witty to say,” she writes — and so did I. (To turn off the iOS Mail signature, just go to Settings/Mail/Signature and delete all the text.)

For me it comes down to embracing the brief message. Why should we apologise for being succinct in mobile emails? As for typos, is it really that hard to avoid them in a short message? And is it really that bad if one slips in?

Why instead don’t we adopt a more direct and less formal style for all emails — including those sent from desktops?

Indeed, Harvard linguist Steven Pinker has endorsed a set of rules that he deems necessary to avoid getting inundated by email. Among them: respect your recipients’ time; it’s not rude if a response is short or slow.

For another hint at the future of email, look at the ultra-short AI-generated responses suggested in Google’s Inbox email client. All it takes to respond to most messages, this program suggests, is a few words.

Also consider Gab CEO Andrew Torba’s tips for writing emails like a CEO: TLDR: Be concise.

With that in mind, why not kill the mobile signature and write all emails like you’re on your phone?


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