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
 Peathegee Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Your iPhone is your communications lifeline to the world, which is what makes it so frustrating when your iPhone email isn't working. It's even more frustrating if you need to get email for your job.

The bottom line is that, whether it's by text, social media, or email, when you've got an iPhone you expect that it will help you keep you in touch with almost anyone from almost anywhere.

How to Fix iPhone Email That's Not Working

There are many issues that can cause your iPhone email to not work properly. Luckily, there are ten major steps you can take to resolve the majority of iPhone email problems. Read on to learn about each one.

Illustration of a woman staring at her mobile phone, includes troubleshooting tips.
 Miguel Co ©Lifewire

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 like a 4G LTE network through your phone company or a Wi-Fi network in order to access email.

You can check your network connection by looking in the top left corner of most iPhones (it's top right corner on iPhone X and later) for your cellular network or Wi-fi bars. If you don't have any bars, this could be the problem.

If you want to connect to a cellular network, tap Settings > Cellular > move the Cellular Data slider to off/white and then back to on/green.

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

It's also smart to make sure Airplane Mode isn't enabled on your iPhone. That can temporarily block connections to cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Learn more about Airplane Mode.

Check Your Email Username and Password

If your email isn't sending or downloading, it could be that there's a problem with the username and/or password you're using to check that email account. In that situation, it's most likely that you'll get a pop-up window asking you to enter your username or password again.

If you don't get that pop-up, you may want to remove the email account from your phone and set it up again. Check out the section on how to do that later in this article.

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 that, follow these steps:

  1. Double click your iPhone Home button (or, on the iPhone X and newer, 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 to return to the home screen.

  5. Tap the Mail app again to relaunch it.

Check Email Settings

Email accounts on the iPhone can be set to check email on a defined schedule (every 30 minutes, for instance) or to have mail pushed to your device as soon as it arrives. How you have these settings configured can impact how your email arrives. Review these settings by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Passwords & Accounts.

  3. Tap Fetch New Data.

  4. You can choose this setting for all email accounts set up on your phone on this screen. To set it for individual accounts, tap an account.

  5. The Push slider will cause email to be sent to your iPhone as soon as it arrives on the email server. This only applies to compatible email accounts.

    Passwords & Accounts, Fetch New Data, Push toggle to ON in iOS Settings
  6. To control the schedule for checking email, go to the Fetch section and choose the frequency you want to use to check for new mail.

Restart iPhone

If your Internet connection is good, your settings fine, 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 iPhone's 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 that your email provider has changed some settings and only the latest iOS version can help you deal with the change. To learn how to update your iPhone, read:

Delete and Set Up Email Account Again

If none of these steps have helped and you're still having iPhone email problems, 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. 

In some cases, there are additional options for deleting an email account from your iPhone. Read How to Delete an Email Account on an iPhone if the steps above didn't work.

Contact Your Email Provider for Support

If your email still isn't working, 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 for Yahoo Mail, 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, 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.