How to Stop iOS Mail From Using Cellular Data

Prevent your iOS device from checking for new mail in the background

Taking a photo with an iPhone in a field of flowers

Susanne Nilsson / Flickr

What to Know

  • Go to Settings > Cellular. Next to Mail, toggle switch to the Off position (gray).
  • To stop Mail from updating when app isn't in use, go to Settings > Mail > Accounts > Fetch New Data > [account] > Manual.

The iOS Mail app frequently checks for new email via Wi-Fi and cellular connections. Because frequent mailbox polling uses your monthly cellular data allotment, iOS includes an option to use only Wi-Fi when checking for new messages. Using iOS 11 or later, learn how to stop iOS Mail from using cellular data, as well as how to prevent Mail from checking for updates in the background.

How to Stop iOS Mail From Using Cellular Data

To turn off cellular data usage for iOS Mail, open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad and select Cellular. Then, scroll down and tap the toggle switch next to Mail until it is in the Off position.

Cellular settings on iPhone

With cellular data turned off for the Mail app, you can still read mail already on the phone and compose messages to be delivered as soon as you are connected to a Wi-Fi network.

To temporarily suspend iOS Mail—and all other apps—from using cellular data, put the iPhone in Airplane Mode.

Prevent iOS Mail From Checking Mail in the Background

To prevent Mail from checking for new email in the background, turn off push email for all accounts. You can disable automatic checks on a schedule in the iPhone email account settings. Disabling push on an email account also disables pushing calendar events and contact changes associated with the email account.

Follow these steps to configure iOS Mail to avoid checking for new messages in the background or to receive messages automatically through push email from the server as they arrive:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Go to Mail > Accounts > Fetch New Data. (On older versions of iOS, go to Passwords & Accounts > Fetch New Data.)

    iOS Mail fetch new data
  3. Choose the account you'd like to modify.

  4. Select Manual. This setting makes it so Mail only fetches or refreshes when the app is in use.

  5. Choose Fetch if you'd like Mail to continue checking for new mail in the background.

    iOS Mail fetch new data

Modify the iOS Mail Polling Frequency

Another way to conserve data is to configure the iOS Mail app not to check mail automatically. Then, use the app only when you need it and when it is connected with a cellular plan or Wi-Fi.

Other Settings That Affect Email Data Usage

When set to Push, iOS continuously checks the server for new information and then delivers that information to the iOS device in near real-time. Because Push causes the Mail app to update as often as possible, it isn't a good choice if you are concerned about data usage.

When set to Fetch, iOS has options to check the email server in five ways:

  • Automatically: The iPhone fetches new email messages in the background when on Wi-Fi.
  • Manually: Email refreshes only when you open the Mail app.
  • Hourly
  • Every 30 minutes
  • Every 15 minutes

Each of these settings restricts the Mail app's access to the email server in one way or another. Select the option that works best for you.

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