Sending a private/confidential email in Mail

ladytonya

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Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
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I have been messing around with my iPhone for over a year trying to figure out how to do this and now I have a MacBook and can't see how to do it in Mail on here. In Outlook, when you send an email you can mark it as private. Also, when you respond to an email that is marked private or confidential, the email is marked the same. Is this possible in Mail or on my iPhone? I have to send messages to my hubby at work this way or his nosy coworkers look at his emails. So annoying! Anyway, right now when I see an email from him I have to open my browser and respond in web mail. It would be SO MUCH EASIER if I could just hit reply! Is this possible?
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
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Well, all this is is an email "header". Client software won't necessarily observe it. Not sure how this prevents others from seeing your email to your husband, unless, say, he works in some kind of customer support function where all mail is dumped into a common mailbox so that anybody in the group can answer. So, perhaps his company has it set up so that emails marked "confidential" don't go in the common mailbox?

Just keep in mind that this isn't guaranteed to work.

Anyway, many email clients for PCs have the option to add arbitrary headers to an email. (Or might support this one directly.) Unfortunately, at least the standard iPhone email app doesn't have that feature. Perhaps a third-party app does, though?
 
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ladytonya

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Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
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Hmm, interesting information. He works for a State Farm agent. I'm not sure how their email works but I do know they're on a LAN if that matters?

I have always been able to mark the email as confidential or private in Outlook and in the exchange web clients that my schools have used. I have never been able to do it in AOL, Yahoo, or Gmail. I always assumed it was the service provider, not the program, until I got on my iPhone and Mac with the exchange account and couldn't do it from their, either. I have seen other mail clients in the Mac App Store but not in the iOS store. I actually like the interface of the build-in apps except for this one thing. If I have to have another app, it's the same number of extra clicks to just bring up Safari and log in so I'll just keep doing that. I do have to wonder, though, why it can't be done in the build-in Mail programs.
 
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Darth.Titan

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Oct 31, 2007
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Austin, TX
Okay, I just did some experimenting in Outlook because I've never seen anyone use the "Message Sensitivity Level" before, and I wanted to know exactly what it does.

All it does is place in fairly tiny print at the top of the message the phrase, "Please treat this as Private." Bear in mind that you only see this notice after opening the message.

I guess I just don't see the point. You could just as easily type "PRIVATE" in the message's subject and get the same (if not better) effect.

You'll probably have difficulty finding an email client other than Outlook that reads or acts on these "sensitivity levels".
 
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ladytonya

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Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
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I'll have to try it tomorrow and see if it works. When I look at the message in the web client, there is a line that says "This message has been marked as Private" that is highlighted in yellow. It shows up between the "from" line and the "to" line.

FW: Hewwo
Tim [myhusband'sname@statefarm.com]
This message has been marked as Private.
Sent: Friday, July 01, 2011 12:03 PM
To: Tonya

Maybe I'll go find a Windows forum and see if anyone there knows what marks the email as private. I don't know if putting that line in the message or even putting something like [Private] in the subject line will work.
 
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Tumbleweed666

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Mar 20, 2009
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I think you've missed the point tonya, this facility you are seemingly desperate for no more makes an email 'private' than if you wrote on a letter printed on paper 'this is private' - it wont actually stop anyone reading it.

If you actually want it to be private, the simple thing to do would be for him to use web mail like Google or Hotmail for his personal email, rather than his employers email, and and log off once he has sent an email to you.
 
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ladytonya

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Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
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But he cannot access any of those services on his work computer, they're all blocked.

I'm not desperate for anything, it just doesn't make any sense that a feature that I have always used in Outlook isn't available in anything else. Maybe there is no need for the feature and that's why it's not available. It's nothing that I cannot do by bringing up a browser window and logging in to my school exchange account that way, it would just be a whole lot easier if I could just hit reply from my phone.

The sad thing is that it's not even something that his employer doesn't allow, she doesn't care. Heck, she and a lot of the other people in his office forward stuff around to each other all the time. We're talking maybe one or two emails a day, not constant conversation, but his coworkers are nosy and sometimes what we are saying is none of their business. Anyway, it's not that big of a deal just something that I've always been able to do so I'm not sure why I can't still do it.
 
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eawmp1

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Feb 19, 2008
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But he cannot access any of those services on his work computer, they're all blocked.

I'm not desperate for anything, it just doesn't make any sense that a feature that I have always used in Outlook isn't available in anything else. Maybe there is no need for the feature and that's why it's not available. It's nothing that I cannot do by bringing up a browser window and logging in to my school exchange account that way, it would just be a whole lot easier if I could just hit reply from my phone.

The sad thing is that it's not even something that his employer doesn't allow, she doesn't care. Heck, she and a lot of the other people in his office forward stuff around to each other all the time. We're talking maybe one or two emails a day, not constant conversation, but his coworkers are nosy and sometimes what we are saying is none of their business. Anyway, it's not that big of a deal just something that I've always been able to do so I'm not sure why I can't still do it.
1) The feature in Outlok is window dressing. You could do the same thing by typing "Private" in your email subject line
2) How about a nice text to his cell phone? Or have him check his mail on his phone.
 
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miles01110

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Jul 24, 2006
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The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
You cannot have private correspondence via e-mail without using an encryption suite like PGP to encrypt the e-mail on your end and subsequently have the recipient decrypt it on the other end.

If this is not possible due to security controls on the State Farm side as you eluded to before, you can stop wasting your time now. Marking an e-mail as "private" in the subject line does not make an e-mail private, just like writing "Real Gold" on a piece of paper does not make it real gold.
 
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Tumbleweed666

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Mar 20, 2009
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Near London, UK.
... but his coworkers are nosy and sometimes what we are saying is none of their business.
And in what way, if they are nosy, does writing "Private" on the email actually prevent the nosy coworkers from reading his email? Indeed, they actually have to read it in order to see its private !

Lets try this.

==================
This is private, don't read it.
==================

Did that work?
 
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jtara

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Mar 23, 2009
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And in what way, if they are nosy, does writing "Private" on the email actually prevent the nosy coworkers from reading his email? Indeed, they actually have to read it in order to see its private !
I sure hope she hasn't been writing him about their trip to the Adult Toy Superstore. Otherwise, they sure have been yucking it up at the water cooler! ;)

In any case, this isn't *quite* true. There IS a "standard" (but only proposed) Sensitivity header:

2.1.64 Sensitivity: header

Header name:
Sensitivity
Description:
Message content sensitivity
Applicable protocol:
mail (http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc2822.txt)
Status:
standards-track
Author/change controller:
IETF (mailto:iesg@ietf.org)
Internet Engineering Task Force, .
Specification document(s):
http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc2822.txt
Related information:
How sensitive it is to disclose this message to other people than the specified recipients. Values: Personal, private, company confidential. The absence of this header field in messages gatewayed from X.400 indicates that the message is not sensitive. Proposed for use with RFC 2156 (MIXER) and RFC 2421 (VPIM).
However, you have to understand that what a given server or client does with this is completely optional.

A server may be set-up to divert sensitive mail away from a common mailbox. A client might print a yellow message on the subject line.

But it isn't *quite* the same as just writing "This is confidential" in the message body.

It's POSSIBLE that his employer has set things up to somehow make these emails more confidential.

It's also possible that they just get printed and tacked-up next to the water cooler.

Just sayin'.
 
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old-wiz

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Mar 26, 2008
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West Suburban Boston Ma
You cannot have private correspondence via e-mail without using an encryption suite like PGP to encrypt the e-mail on your end and subsequently have the recipient decrypt it on the other end.

If this is not possible due to security controls on the State Farm side as you eluded to before, you can stop wasting your time now. Marking an e-mail as "private" in the subject line does not make an e-mail private, just like writing "Real Gold" on a piece of paper does not make it real gold.
Unless you encrypt your e-mail anyone who can intercept the message can read it. Just because Outlook puts something in the header that says "private" or something like that, there;s nothing to prevent a good Unix program from simply ignoring the "private" flag.

And while I'm at it, don't trust the "From" field in any e-mail; it is very very easily spoofed. I remember back using mail on a Unix server, and a woman I worked with said you can trust the "from" field, so I sent her an e-mail where the "from" field said "God". This is also sort of basic now.
 
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ladytonya

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
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151
I can send him a text or an email that will go to his phone, but it takes longer to get it as he can only check his phone at break and lunch. It's easier to communicate by email.

I don't know how all this stuff works, I never knew that all Outlook was doing was putting that label in the email. I don't think he realizes that, either, so yes, we have both been wasting our time for years. No, we are not corresponding about our latest trip to the adult book store or anything lewd like that. It's usually just stupid stuff, like what we're having for dinner, where we each need to be and at what time, blah blah blah, normal stuff that is just really nobody in his office's business. Unfortunately, I could really care less about who hears what I say so I am wide open communicating with anybody. He is a very private person and doesn't want people knowing his business. Maybe he just THINKS that the messages are private but they're really not. If that is the case, then I think I just won't tell him. It's stupid that we can't communicate during the day with all the various means we have to do so, but we can't, or more accurately he won't.

Anyway, talking to me like I'm some kind of idiot is uncalled for. I was asking a simple question that had not been asked before, sue me! I was always taught that the only stupid question is the one that doesn't get asked; if you have the question, chances are someone else does as well. I did not know that it was highlighted text in the message and nothing else. I am a paralegal, not a computer genius or an IT professional of any sort. Now I know. Geesh, I promise to never ask another question again lest I get my head bitten off!
 
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interrobang

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May 25, 2011
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Anyway, talking to me like I'm some kind of idiot is uncalled for. I was asking a simple question that had not been asked before, sue me! I was always taught that the only stupid question is the one that doesn't get asked; if you have the question, chances are someone else does as well. I did not know that it was highlighted text in the message and nothing else. I am a paralegal, not a computer genius or an IT professional of any sort. Now I know. Geesh, I promise to never ask another question again lest I get my head bitten off!
You came here for help and asked a question.

People here, who do not know you, and are not getting paid by you in any way, tried to help you understand what was going on.

Their answers were correct and factual.

You got offended because they tried to educate and inform you.

That's your problem, lady.

Don't stop asking questions, but don't get offended if people try to answer them.
 
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eawmp1

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Feb 19, 2008
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FL
I can send him a text or an email that will go to his phone, but it takes longer to get it as he can only check his phone at break and lunch.
As he's on the clock isn't that the only time he SHOULD be communicating with you? There was a time when...
 
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theitguys

macrumors newbie
Sep 6, 2011
1
0
Microsoft's Standards

Whilst I can't condone personal emails during work hours, I felt I had to come to a lady's defence when I saw this thread.

A client today highlighted a 'problem' whereby emails flagged as private in her inbox were not viewable by other users with rights to view her mailbox.

So if you are using Outlook / Exchange, then I believe that flagging an email as private *does* make a significant difference and will prevent the email from appearing to other delegated users (when ms default settings are in place).

My reference:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/o...endar-HA010075081.aspx?pid=CH100788801033#BM4

... On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Delegates tab.

In the list, click the name of the delegate to whom you want to give permission to see your private appointments....
 
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miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,269
31
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
A client today highlighted a 'problem' whereby emails flagged as private in her inbox were not viewable by other users with rights to view her mailbox.

So if you are using Outlook / Exchange, then I believe that flagging an email as private *does* make a significant difference and will prevent the email from appearing to other delegated users (when ms default settings are in place).
This only applies to if you have delegates to a common inbox, which in itself kind of defeats the purpose. Having no delegates, which would prevent anyone who didn't know your password from reading your e-mail, would solve the privacy problem from an access control standpoint.

However, the fact remains that cleartext e-mails are not protected in any way at the source, the destination, and in transit.
 
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HeikoScharnberg

macrumors newbie
Sep 14, 2011
2
0
No help

I have the same problem. We are using Outlook/Exchange in office and some people have iPhones as mobile devices.

The "privacy flag" is not handled by the iPhone mailclient, moreover it gets lost when forwarding.

Do you know of any mailclient that can handle this properly?

========

(flame on)
And no, please, I do not want to discuss whether the pricacy flag is good or bad, whether it is solving the original problem or not. That is, IMHO, just distracting rhetorics. The use of Outlook/Exchange is given. Peroid.
(flame off)

Thanks!
Heiko
 
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Darth.Titan

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Oct 31, 2007
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Austin, TX
You didn't read the thread. The consensus here is that the privacy flag is pretty much pointless in most situations. Therefore, why would a third party dev write an app that utilizes it?
 
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ladytonya

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Oct 14, 2008
839
151
Heiko, I think those of us who use Outlook/Exchange when interacting with an iPhone or even the built-in mail client on a Mac, we're out of luck when it comes to marking messages private. Whether or not it really does anything to the actual message is really neither here nor there, the fact is that there are apparently those of us who use this feature and we can't when sending email through from what I have gathered any Apple mail client. I solve the problem by just going to my Exchange email through Safari on my phone, then I get the same options as when I go through a browser when replying to a message. If I reply to a private message then it goes as private, but if I send a new message there is no way to flag it as private unless I am sending it from Internet Explorer, which of course isn't an option on my Mac and I wouldn't want it to be. Anyway, no flaming necessary. I just don't think Apple supports this feature and isn't going to support it so we just have to find ways around it IF it is a feature that we utilize.
 
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HeikoScharnberg

macrumors newbie
Sep 14, 2011
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0
re: Being out of luck: It seems so.



Witnessing first hand the difference between "talking to your customers" and "listening to your customers". :)

tnx
Heiko
 
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