Many iPhone users report trying to download emails in Mail, but instead seeing an error message: "This message has not been downloaded from the server." This is a common problem, and typically means the Mail message has been interrupted while it's being downloaded from the mail server.

There can be a few reasons for this problem, such as your connection being erratic or an issue occurring with your Mail settings. In this article we look at some possible causes and solutions.

How to fix an iPhone or iPad that 'won't download emails': Mail on iPad

Check Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi

The most common cause for non-responsive email is because you haven't got a connection. This could be because Wi-Fi or your cellular connection is playing up, or because you accidentally left Airplane Mode activated.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Check Airplane Mode, at the top of the list, is turned off. If it was on, that explains the issue.
  3. Now let's reset the connection. Turn Airplane Mode on, then off again.

This will reset your mobile data connection, and hopefully you'll get a better signal. If not, you'll have to move to a location with a better signal or connect to Wi-Fi (you need internet to get email).

While you're in Settings, check your Wi-Fi and make sure you're connected to a network you know (or not connected at all and using mobile data). If you're connected to a random network, such as the ubiquitous "public network" (caused by a bug in nearby Windows laptops), that never works. If so, click on the network and tap Forget This Network so you go back to using Wi-Fi.

Quit Mail

How to fix an iPhone or iPad that won't download emails: Quit Mail app

If that doesn't work then it's time to try quitting Mail and restarting it. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Mail.
  2. Double-tap the Home button, if you have one. You can also swipe up from the bottom of the screen on an iPad or X-series iPhone until you see a carousel of recently opened apps.
  3. Slide the Mail window up and off the top of the screen.
  4. Press the Home button.
  5. Tap the Mail icon to reopen it.

Reset and update

Still seeing "This message has not been downloaded"? Then it's time to start resetting and updating.

First try to reset your iPad or iPhone.

  1. Hold down the Home button until you see the "slide to power off" message.
  2. Slide the power icon to the right to power down your iOS device.
  3. Wait till it has fully switched off, then press the Sleep/Wake button to power it back on.

Now it's a good idea to make sure you're using the latest version of iOS. Tap Settings > General > Software Update and check to see if a new version of iOS is available. If so, plug in your iOS device and go through the update process.

Delete your Mail account and reinstall

How to fix an iPhone or iPad that won't download emails: Delete Mail account

If you're still having problems then it could be due to your Mail settings. Rather than dig through each and every setting, it's usually easier to just delete your Mail account and set it up again.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Passwords & Accounts.
  3. Tap on the account you're having trouble with.
  4. Tap Delete Account, then Delete when the alert window pops up.
  5. Tap Add Account.
  6. Choose the account from the list and enter your details.

This should set up the Mail account with its new settings.

If you work your way through each of the solutions in this article you should be able to fix the problem. But if you have any other advice for readers encountering this issue, please leave a message in the comments.

Here's how to set up email on your Mac, iPad and iPhone.