Is there a way to contact an iPhone app user?

A very frequent scenario: a user makes constant mistakes and I want to explain to them how to do it correctly (combine photos, etc). So frequent indeed, that the page “Frequently Used Responses” was created:

But as it turns out - or am I wrong? - there’s no way to address an iPhone user. No “@” mentions, no messages, no email, nothing! Only if they accidentally decide to read the comments of the exact observation where you wrote something, do you have that slight chance of getting your feedback through. It’s like iPhone users are living in their own world. And I’ve wasted some hours of my life trying to explain things to the void.

How could this be? Or am I wrong? Can I write to iPhone app users?

There is an Activity tab on the iOS app that lists all comments/IDs on their observations.

If the person has an email address attached to their account and uses the default notification settings, they also get an email summary of activity on their observations as well as any @ mentions or direct messages people send them, etc:


I’m an iPhone user and I get those all the time, as @bouteloua explains, on the “activity” tab. I suppose not all users know to look there, but keep explaining!


I couldn’t find any mentions in my Activity tab while I have some recent ones on the web. And only after a long scroll did I find a few comments - only those on my observations; again very different from the web notifications.

So then my theory is that the app Activity works differently than the web Notifications. Seems that Activity only shows activity on my own observations, not on others that I have identified and followed? Is that right? Then that’s what mislead me…

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Right. Once the iOS app updates to the new framework (still in progress), I’m guessing notifications will be a lot more robust there.


Alright, thanks for solving the mystery.

If it’s really problematic, iNat staff can send an email to the user in question (since they can see the user’s email address)

We had a similar situation once, where a user was making many 100s of clearly well-intentioned but wrong IDs and never responded to any messages/tags where we gave further info on the correct identification, implored them to please stop, etc. Turns out they were an iPhone-only user and this couldn’t see tags, read messages, etc. Eventually someone reached out to staff ( and they were able to contact the user via email, who was very apologetic and restrained with their IDs from that point forward. :)


Exactly why I use a combination of the iPhone app and the website. We can get notifications, but only on our own observations.

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Just a little more details about what @bouteloua said.

By default, a user should be sent email notifications if someone messages them, and that email contains the entire message. So theoretically messaging them should be enough. But there are caveats like:

  • the user’s email provider flags iNat emails a spam
  • the user has turned off notifications for messages
  • the user disregards emails from iNat

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