Business Columns & Blogs

Sending attachments with ‘Mail Drop’

Q: I was trying to mail a video clip on my iPhone to a friend, but the Mail app said the file was too big and I should try sending it with “Mail Drop.” What is this?

A: Mail Drop is a feature that works with the Mail app on many iOS devices, Macs and through a web browser pointed to The email account you are using must also support the IMAP standard. Mail Drop temporarily uses iCloud server space — instead of the mail provider’s servers — to store file attachments up to 5 gigabytes in size.

When you have a message with an attachment that is too large to send normally and you select Mail Drop as an alternative, the Mail app uploads the file to iCloud, and then provides the recipient with a link to download it there. This way, the shared file does not actually go through the regular mail servers as an attachment.

The Mail Drop attachments expire after 30 days and do not count against the storage limits for your iCloud account; basic iCloud accounts include a free 5 gigabytes and you can buy more if needed. You can store up to a terabyte of Mail Drop attachments.

Apple is not the only company that offers this type of workaround. Google has a similar tool that lets Gmail users stash large files to be shared on the Google Drive connected to their accounts. Microsoft’s OneDrive service likewise helps users share videos and other big attachments with email correspondence.

If you do not have a mail service with a built-in option for handling hefty attachments, try a file-sharing service like Dropbox or Box. With this approach, you upload the file to your account and then send a private link to the content by email. Dropbox can also work directly with Yahoo Mail and Gmail, as can other some services.

Checking Voicemail From Abroad

Q: Is it possible to check voicemail on a smartphone when traveling on vacation in Europe?

A: You should be able to listen to your voicemail messages overseas from your smartphone or another phone. In most cases, however, you need to know one important piece of information — your voicemail pass code. You may have set one up and forgotten about it when you first got your phone. If you do not remember the password required to check messages manually, contact your wireless carrier to get the information or have the pass code reset.

If you are planning to use your phone on your trip, visit your carrier’s website before you go for any travel tips and information about the company’s international voice and data plans in various countries. While these plans may add an additional fee to your monthly bill, they are often less expensive than roaming onto the networks of foreign carriers. If you spring for an international cellular data plan, you may also be able to use your phone’s visual voicemail.

In addition to selling their own international calling and data plans, the major American wireless carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless — also have instructions for dialing into voicemail while traveling abroad. Many AT&T phones connect you to your voice mailbox anywhere when you press and hold the 1 key on the keypad.

If that does not work, you can dial 1 before your own phone number, press the asterisk (*) key during your voicemail greeting and enter your voicemail pass code to hear your messages. Sprint’s phones work in a similar fashion and T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless have a phone number to dial to get access to your messages. You can also dial into your carrier’s voicemail system from another phone — as long as you remember your voicemail pass code and message-retrieval instructions.