iPhone Email Attachments Are Not Opening

If you can't open email attachments on an iPhone, you may have a problem with the attachment or the download. Occasionally, a glitch or settings problem on the iPhone prevents you from accessing attachments, in which case you may find a fix by troubleshooting the handset and the email account.

Check the Attachment's Compatibility

The iPhone doesn't support all file types as email attachments, and the Mail app can't open unsupported attachments even though it downloads them. Check the attachment is a supported file type. For example, the iPhone can automatically open the following types of attachments:

  • Web pages in .htm and .html formats.
  • Word, PowerPoint and Excel files.
  • Apple Pages, Numbers and Keynote files.
  • Images with .jpg, .gif and .tiff extensions.
  • Adobe Acrobat PDFs.
  • Text files with .txt and .rtf extensions.
  • Contact files in the .vcf format.
  • ZIP files.
  • iCalendar .ics files.

If the attachment isn't on this list, you can't view it in the Mail app. However, you may be able to find a third-party app that will open it on the iPhone. If the attachment is supported but still doesn't open, try troubleshooting fixes.

Troubleshoot the Download

You can't open an email attachment on the iPhone until it has downloaded. If the attachment has the word Downloading on it or the download circle is not complete, wait until it is finished before you open it. Be patient if you're downloading a large file. If the download seems to be taking too much time, pull down on the iPhone's screen to refresh the Mail app.

If this doesn't work, shut down the Mail app. Press the Home button to exit the app. Double-tap the Home button, go to the Mail app in the list of recently closed apps and swipe it up. This may fix a glitch in the app and it may start working when you restart Mail.

Troubleshoot the iPhone

A restart or reset may clear minor problems with the iPhone.

Restart the iPhone

Press the Sleep/Wake button and hold it down for a few seconds. Swipe Slide to Power Off. When the iPhone closes down, hold the Sleep/Wake button to restart.

Reset the iPhone

Press both the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons until the Apple logo shows on the screen. Release the buttons. The iPhone restarts automatically after it resets.

Troubleshoot the Email Account

If the attachment problem only occurs on one email account, delete that account from the iPhone and reinstall it. To reinstall, you need the account password, so make sure you know this before uninstalling.


Tap Settings and open Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

Open Mail, Contacts, Calendars in the Settings app.
credit: Image courtesy Apple
Select Delete Account on the email account's menu screen.
credit: Image courtesy Apple


Tap the email account and then Delete Account on the next screen.

Select Delete From My iPhone.
credit: Image courtesy Apple


Tap Delete From My iPhone to confirm the deletion.

Select Add Account in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars menu.
credit: Image courtesy Apple


Open Mail, Contacts, Calendars in the Settings menu and tap Add Account.

Tap your email provider or Other.
credit: Image courtesy Apple


The iPhone lists default providers; if your provider is listed, tap the name to start the setup. If your provider isn't there, tap Other and follow the prompts to enter your email address. The iPhone then searches for the account and adds it.