My iPhone signature is automatically "Sent from my iPhone". My iPad does the same, and on my Android tablet, I get "Sent using Cloud Magic Email". Finally, on Desktop, it says "Sent Sent from Nylas N1"

While I like all these apps / devices, and I'm happy to support them via a single line advertisement, I am not sure how professional it appears.

I sometimes remove the signature but I'm never sure if I need to or not, and I normally leave it after a couple of email exchanges.

Is there a sliding scale - is this fine for internal emails, but not advised externally, or should I just disable the signature for my work account?

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    People are more accepting of spelling mistakes when they know you typed your reply on a phone rather than sitting at your workstation. As far as I'm concerned that's the only reason to leave it in. – AndreiROM Apr 20 '16 at 21:27
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    Personally, when I see those lines my first thought is that the sender isn't tech savvy enough to remove it and replace with their own signature. – NotMe Apr 20 '16 at 21:41
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    You don't need to leave these messages there to "support" the products. You supported them already by buying the devices. Now customize it to show your own signature. – Brandin Apr 20 '16 at 22:31
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    @Brandin The apps are all free, so I've paid nothing. I like Nylas (it's open source) and Cloud Magic (it's amazing). The devices I have paid for, yes. – Tim Apr 20 '16 at 22:32
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    @Brandin Sure, that's not my question. I'm happy for the signature to be there (I customised it already) - my question is "is this unprofessional" (and opinions seem mixed). – Tim Apr 20 '16 at 22:37
up vote 22 down vote accepted

I don't see this as unprofessional at all. We live on our mobile devices and people should expect that they could get messages sourced from there. More importantly, it helps set context for the message. If I shoot back a short quick reply from my phone, the recipients can see that I may not be in a good place to give a detailed reply.

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    You can increase the chances of that by editing the message to say "sent from my [whatever] - please excuse typos or short replies" or "send from my [whatever] - if you need more details when I am at my desk please reply asking for them" and so on. I generally replace iPhone, BlackBerry, SuperAmazingWhizzoPhone with just "phone" or "tablet" as appropriate to remove any sense of advertising for the vendor or showing off how cool you are to own a [whatever] – Kate Gregory Apr 20 '16 at 21:48
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    @KateGregory So would you suggest the "Nylas N1" which my desktop sends is unadvisable? – Tim Apr 20 '16 at 21:57
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    I would, yes. I don't think what provider or server or vendor you use is really relevant. The fact that you're using an onscreen keyboard or answering from the changeroom at the gym may be. – Kate Gregory Apr 20 '16 at 22:04
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    I disagree. The point of sending mail from mobile devices is that the recipients should neither know nor care where you sent it from. – jamesqf Apr 21 '16 at 4:35
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    I think the point of sending mail from a mobile device is the question of greater accessibility. Whether or not someone knows or cares that it's mobile is context sensitive. – cdkMoose Apr 21 '16 at 12:42

While I personally don't care for it, that has become so ubiquitous in recent years that it's completely unavoidable.

At this stage of the game, I think it is so prevalent that the question of whether or not it's professional no longer matters.

It just is.

Edit: there is a potential case where you may not want to have it. If you have a client or someone else that is assuming that you're actually working in the office as opposed to working from home or somewhere else, that may leave the impression that you're out and about. If the person to whom you're sending an email already thinks that you aren't in the office much, that may perpetuate that perception.

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    @dan1111 Presumable Cristopher means that it's become so prevalent that you can't avoid people who keep this signature active. As an extension of that, there won't be anyone left who hasn't seen this before or who thinks less of someone for doing it, which means that it can't be considered unprofessional these days. – Lilienthal Apr 21 '16 at 8:32

The short answer is 'yes', it is professional. In fact, it's not just professional but desirable. And I base that answer not on opinion but on reviewing the research on the topic.

Let me explain.

I read this post a few weeks ago, and was intrigued not just by the number of answers but by the lack of consensus. Like others here, I'd assumed this question was now redundant, given how we've all long gotten over the whole 'look at me with a new iPhone' thing. But I'd begun wondering about it again after the default signature reappeared on my iPhone after a software update.

I'd hesitated to just change it. (OK, I procrastinated, as I was irritated that I had to do it again, having carefully set up my mobile signature a couple of years back.) Then I wondered if I was actually better off leaving it as it was. Which is why this thread caught my eye.

Rather than just add my two cents', I decided to see if there had been any research on the topic. It turns out that there has.

A few years ago, two social scientists at the University of Oklahoma tested emails with and without 'Sent from my iPhone' on over a hundred volunteers, to see how each affected perception of the sender. In particular, they wanted to test whether the line reduced the damaging effect of grammar errors and typos.

What they found was that, while such mistakes did indeed have a negative effect on perception, 'Sent from my iPhone' significantly reduced that effect.

The reason is that we're all programmed to look for cues that help us judge the people we're communicating with. In a nutshell, we want to know whether we can trust and believe them – a concept covered by an idea called Uncertainty Reduction Theory (first put forward in 1975). Mistakes in an email increase uncertainty about the sender, but other cues called 'high-warrant' cues can reduce it. 'Sent from my iPhone' is the second type of cue.

So those people here who've suggested it buys you leeway are spot-on: it repairs some of the damage that typos (or hurried, terse replies) do to your credibility.

The original Oklahoma study research paper is here. I've also written up the research findings in more detail on my blog here.

I may have geeked out a little, but it strikes me as a fascinating area – not least because I've never come across these ideas in any business books (despite working in communication for about 25 years). If the people we email (etc.) are all driven by the desire to reduce uncertainty, then tweaking what we write to help them with that (by including these cues) can only improve our work relationships.

Adding something like 'Sent from my mobile – apologies for any typos or strange predictive text' seems like one easy, simple way to do just that.

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    Sounds like you should just add that to every short email you send, then ;) – Erik Jun 14 '17 at 19:17
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    @Erik Personally, I rarely email from a device other than my phone now - I have a significant journey time each day. But perhaps I will add it as my default signature. – Tim Jun 14 '17 at 19:19
  • Last comment sent from Joe Strazzere's phone. That's probably why his thought was interrupted mid-sentence. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 15 '17 at 5:56
  • @JoeStrazzere If you've never sent an email with a typo in it, you're better than I am. The brain sees what it expects to see, not what's there. The only foolproof ways to catch every error are to print out the email and check each word individually or give it to someone else to proof. (I base that on training 40,000 people in business writing; I agree this stuff matters.) Neither method is practical in this case. Stating that you wrote an email on a mobile is a proven way to mitigate mistakes that slip through and so build trust. And building relationships based on trust is professional. – Rob Ashton Jun 15 '17 at 7:48
  • @JoeStrazzere I'm not trying to argue that mistakes are ok. They're not. (They irritate me too – but that might be my age.) Rather, I'm just reporting on the research. The authors of the Oklahoma study found no statistical differences between different age demographics. – Rob Ashton Jun 15 '17 at 10:14

Everything we do is in a context. Some of us have to deal with phone calls both in the office as well as on the road. Any client would be real stupid to not consider the FACT that certain things just can't be achieved in a conversation when either a service provider OR the client happens to be on a mobile phone in some place where the background noise can't be controlled.

As such, the same works for messages. The footer works, because it says that the sender is not immediately available for certain types of exchanges via e-mail. It actually helps to set realistic expectations, which is MORE professional, in my opinion. It doesn't lower the level of service; in fact, it improves it.

The only thing I'd change is for the message to read "sent from my mobile", vs advertising someone's brand name.

I am not sure how professional it appears.

To me it appears like you are using a private device. Companies don't do that. They may allow the use of a private device but they surely don't allow private devices to alter your messages sent in their name.

Sending me information that is not part of a professional message is unprofessional. If you aren't an Apple representative and we aren't talking about iPhones, information like "sent from my iPhone" is an advertisement for a third party. I don't want that from a business partner.

If you are mentioning it to apologize for poor message quality, that appears unprofessional as well. Don't send me automated excuses in advance, instead improve your message quality. That would be professional.

Obviously I don't expect a professional mail from a private device if it is a private device. Someone who calls in sick from his private phone in the morning can have any signature he likes.

To summarize: sending me unsolicited advertisements in the mail does not appear professional to me.

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    "To me it appears like you are using a private device. Companies don't do that." Not true. Lots of companies allow you to use private devices for work, even major companies. "[Bring Your Own Device] is making significant inroads in the business world, with about 75% of employees in high growth markets such as Brazil and Russia and 44% in developed markets already using their own technology at work." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bring_your_own_device – user45590 Apr 21 '16 at 8:14
  • I agree that these signatures are unprofessional though. – user45590 Apr 21 '16 at 8:15
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    "It appears like you are using a private device". This is true and it does have an impact on "professionalism" but it may be like a double-edged sword. For example, if you have to deal with clients, it's maybe convenient for them to have the impression that you're responding in your off hours and can be reached all hours of the day. But once they have that expectation, you essentially can never put your work away. – Brandin Apr 21 '16 at 8:53
  • Maybe it's just where I live (NYC metro) and work (finance/tech) but a high percentage of people I know use their private device to interact with their work mail and other services. The distinction of private device really doesn't seem to come into play. – cdkMoose Apr 21 '16 at 12:51
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    Can anybody please explain the downvotes? If you think this is opinion and you don't like it, feel free to close-vote the question as opinion-based. If you think the answer is factually wrong, please inform me. – nvoigt Apr 22 '16 at 9:59

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