How to Open Attachments in External Apps from iPhone Mail

Paperclip on iPhone 5S
Apple Inc.
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iOS Mail lets you open attached documents and images in dedicated apps for viewing or editing.

Here Is an App for That Attachment

It is great to read a one-page PDF right in Apple's iOS Mail, and it's good that it will open an entire book, too; would it not be better, though, to open, keep, annotate and sync that book in iBooks, for example? Would it not be great to open Office documents for editing in your favorite spreadsheet and word processor?

In addition to a quick look at many a type of attached file, iPhone Mail offers to send any file to any app that can read it. You can open PDF files in iBooks or Kindle or Scanbot for OCR, for example, and Word documents in, well, Word, Quickoffice or Documents To Go.

Open Attachments in External Apps from iOS Mail

To send any file attached to an email you received in an app-equipped to open it from iOS Mail:

  1. Open the email that contains the attachment.
  2. Make sure the file has been downloaded to iOS Mail.
    • Tap Tap to Download if you see it in an attachment's outline.
  3. Tap and hold the attached file's outline until a menu comes up.
  4. Select the desired app and action from the menu.
    • If the desired app does not appear in the list:
      1. Make sure you scroll the list; the desired app may be just out of sight.
      2. Tap More.
      3. Make sure the desired app is enabled.
      4. Tap Done.

Open an Image Attachment in an External App from iOS Mail

To save and open in any photo app an attached image that appears online in an iOS Mail email:

  1. Open the message that includes the photo or image.
  2. Tap and hold the photo you want to open in another app.
  3. Select Save Image from the menu that has shown.
  4. Open the Photos app.
  5. Find the image you just saved from the message.
  6. Open that picture.
  7. Tap the share button.
  8. Select the desired app or action from the menu that has shown.

    Save an Attachment to iCloud Drive

    To save a file from an email straight to iCloud Drive:

    1. Open the message that includes the attached file.
    2. Make sure the file has been downloaded to Mail.
    3. Tap and hold the file you want to save to iCloud Drive.
    4. Select Save Attachment from the menu that has appeared.
    5. Open the folder to which you want to save the file.
      • You can stay at the top iCloud Drive folder, of course.
    6. Tap Export to this location.

    Open Attachments in External Apps from iPhone Mail 4

    To open an attached file in an app that can handle it from iPhone Mail:

    1. Open the message containing the attachment.
    2. If the file has not yet downloaded (its name is gray and the outline dashed):
      1. Tap the down arrow button in the attachment outline.
    3. Tap and hold the attached file's name until a menu comes up.
    4. Choose Open in (followed by the desired app).

    (Updated June 2016, tested with iPhone Mail 4 and iOS Mail 9)