What to Do When Your iPhone Email Is Not Working

There's no excuse for not keeping in touch with your iPhone

Hispanic businessman using cell phone in restaurant
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One of the major benefits of the iPhone is that it can keep you in touch with almost anyone from almost anywhere. Whether it's by text, social media, or email, your iPhone is your communications lifeline to the world. And that's what makes it so frustrating when your email isn't working (it's doubly frustrating if you need to get an email for your job).

There are many issues that can cause your iPhone not to be able to download email, probably dozens. Luckily, there are eight major steps you can take to resolve the majority of iPhone email problems.

Check iPhone Network Connection

Your iPhone can't get an email if it's not connected to the internet. You need to be connected to a cellular network through your phone company or a Wi-Fi network in order to access email.

If you need help connecting to Wi-Fi, read How to Connect iPod touch or iPhone to Wi-Fi (or, if you're not seeing Wi-Fi and should, read Wi-Fi Grayed Out on iPhone? Here's How To Fix It).

You should also make sure Airplane Mode isn't enabled on your iPhone since that can temporarily block connections to cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Learn more about Airplane Mode here.

Quit and Restart the Mail App

One quick way to fix any app that's not working as expected is to quit and relaunch it. This can solve some problems that cause Mail not to work. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Double click your iPhone Home button (or, on the iPhone X, swipe up from the bottom of the screen).

    Hand holding iPhone, highlight of Home button
    Original image: Ugur Akdemir / Unsplash
  2. When the multitasking view appears, find Mail.

  3. Swipe Mail up and off the screen. This quits the Mail app.

    Two screens from iOS showing multitasking mode and swiping up of the Mail app
  4. Single click the Home button or tap the screen.

  5. Tap the Mail app again to relaunch it.

Restart iPhone

If your Internet connection is good and you've restarted the Mail app, your next step is one of the most common in all iPhone-troubleshooting tutorials: restarting your phone. Believe it or not, restarting an iPhone can solve tons of problems. Sometimes your phone just needs a fresh start. 

Update the Operating System

Another key troubleshooting step is to make sure you have the latest version of the iOS, the operating system that runs the iPhone. Updated versions of the iOS deliver bug fixes and improvements to features. It's possible that the problems with your email are the result of a bug that's fixed with the latest iOS update or your email provider has changed some settings and only the latest iOS version can help you deal with the change. To update your iPhone, read:

Delete and Set Up Email Account Again

If none of these steps solved the problem, there may not be anything wrong with your phone. Instead, the problem may lie with the settings being used to try to connect to your email account. If you entered the wrong server address, username, or password when setting up the account on your phone, you won't be able to get an email.

If that's the case, begin by deleting the troublesome email account. 

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Navigate to Passwords & Accounts (on older versions of the iOS, look for Accounts & Passwords or Mail, Contacts, Calendar).

  3. Tap the account with the problem.

  4. Tap Delete Account.


    Three iOS screens in Passwords and Accounts showing how to delete an errant email account
  5. Then choose Delete from My iPhone in the pop-up menu at the bottom of the screen.

With the email account deleted, double check all the settings that you should use to access this account and go through the process of adding an email account to your iPhone again. 

Note: There are additional options for deleting an email account from your iPhone. Read How to Delete an Email Account on an iPhone if these steps didn't work.

Contact Your Email Provider

At this point, it's time to get some direct tech support for your email problems. A good first step is to check with your email provider (Google for Gmail, Yahoo, etc.). Each email provider has different ways to provide support, but a good bet is to log into your email account on the web and then look for links like Help or Support. 

Get Help Directly from Apple

If your email provider can't help, you may have a problem that's bigger or more complex than you can solve. In that case, it's probably best to take your iPhone – and all of the information about the email account – to your nearest Apple Store for tech support (you can also call Apple for support). Apple Stores are busy places, though, so make sure to make an appointment before heading out to avoid waiting forever for someone to free up.

If It's a Work Account, Check With Your IT Department

If you're trying to check a work email account, and if the first five steps didn't work, it may be that the problem doesn't lie with your iPhone at all. The problem might reside on the email server that you're trying to download email from.

A temporary problem with that server or a configuration change that you're not aware of could block your iPhone's access. If the account that's not working is provided by your job, check with your company's IT department and see if they can help resolve the problem.