How to Open iPhone Email Attachments in Other Apps

Copy an attachment into a different app to edit or store it there

Paperclip on iPhone 5S
Apple Inc.

When it comes to email attachments on the iPhone, the Mail app opens them, and that's about it. To edit or copy an email attachment from your phone, it must first be opened in a different app. When an email attachment opens in another app, you can do anything to the attachment that the third-party app supports. This may involve editing a photo, saving a file to a cloud storage account, or signing your name on a document.

Instructions in this article apply to iOS 12 devices, but the directions should be applicable for older versions of iOS, too.

How to Choose Which App Opens the Attachment

Copying an attachment to an app other than Mail is as easy as sharing the attachment with the app you want to use.

  1. In the email, tap the attachment. If prompted, select Tap to download.

  2. Select the Share button.

    Mail previews the attachment if it knows how to read that file type. If not, tap the attachment to open the Share menu.

  3. Choose which app to copy the file to. For example, select Copy to Word to open a DOCX file in the Microsoft Word app, or select Save to Files to save the attachment to iCloud Drive.

    Three iOS screens showing an attachment, the Share button, and Copy to Word option

    If you don't see the app you want, select More to see the complete list of app choices. If an app isn't in this list, it's either unable to open the file type or not installed on the iPhone.

  4. For an archive that holds multiple files (for example, a ZIP file): Open the ZIP attachment, select Preview Content to display the list of files, choose a file, then share the file with an external app.

  5. Wait while the app opens the email attachment.

Can't Pick the App You Want?

Not all apps can open all file types. For example, a 7Z file that holds vacation photos can't open on the phone and the average photo editor doesn't know how to handle this file type.

If the apps installed on the phone don't open the email attachment, research the format and how to open it. You may need to open it on your computer and run it through a file converter so that it's in a compatible format with an app on the iPhone.

There are many file opener apps in the App Store, so a do a quick search there. For example, for photos stored in a 7Z archive, give the iZip iOS app a try. iZip accepts the 7Z format and is listed with other apps that can utilize the format, such as Google Drive and MEGA.

Apps that can open a zip attachment on iOS