It taunts you when you’re at work, it mocks you on weekends, and it may even torment you on vacation.

Yes, I’m talking about the bright red badge on the iPhone (and iPad) home screen that tells you exactly how many emails—work, personal, or otherwise—you haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

Before the arrival of the iOS 5 software update, there was no way to turn the telltale unread mail badge off—well, nothing short of turning off your iPhone email accounts altogether, anyway.

How to turn off the iPhone's unread mail badge (iOS 5 tip)

Switch the “Badge App Icon” setting to “Off” if you don’t want to be reminded of all the emails you haven’t read yet.

Thanks to the glorious new iOS 5 Notification Center, though, you can now customize exactly how often you’d like your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to nag you about new email—ranging from pop-up alerts and banners (which you can swipe open from the iOS lock screen) to my favorite new setting: nothing at all.

Any by the way: this trick works for any iOS app listed in the Notifications settings, not just Mail.

So, without further ado … out, damned spot!

  • Tap Settings, Notifications to head to your notification settings.
  • Scroll down until your find Mail, and tap it.
  • Scroll down again and switch “Badge App Icon” to off.
  • If you really don’t want to be bothered every time a new email hits your inbox, make sure “Alert Style” is set to “None,” switch “View in Lock Screen” to “Off,” and turn the “Notification Center” setting to “Off.”

Begone, unread mail badge. You won’t be missed—or at least, not while I’m relaxing on the veranda.