How To

How to attach files, photos to email on iPhone or iPad

attach photos iphone

Take a great photo on your iPhone and it’s natural to want to share it with friends and family. We’ve covered sharing photos from the Photos app, but you can also share photos directly from within your Mail application. As more and more are using their iOS devices for productivity and work, attaching files like Word documents or PDFs becomes a necessity. Here’s how you can attach files and photos on iPhone or iPad, directly from the Mail app.

attach photos iphone

How to attach photos and videos using the Mail app

1. Open Mail and select the ‘new message’ icon (paper and pencil icon) at the bottom right.
2. Type the email address of the recipient or hit the ‘+’ icon to select them from your Contacts
3. Tap in the Subject and type your subject, “Really great photo!”
4. Finally, tap and hold in the message area until you see a magnifying glass. A pop-up menu will come up with options to select, select all or paste. To the right of these is an arrow. Tap on the arrow and select ‘Insert Photo or Video’

Insert photo or video

5. Photos will come up, with options to select from Moments, Camera Roll, My Photo Stream or an existing album
6. Navigate to a photo and select the blue button titled “Choose”

Selecting photo

You should be back in the Mail app. If you haven’t yet, type a short a message and tap on ‘Send’ at the top right.

How to attach PDFs and other files on iPhone or iPad

With photos or videos, you can insert files directly from the mail application. Sharing files via email still requires you do so from the app where the file was created. If you are working on a word document, PDF or other file that’s not a photo or video, there is no way to send it directly through the Mail app. The procedure is to share it via the third party app, which will in turn make use of the Mail app to do the dirty work of sending off the email.

There are different nuances to how an application might handle sending attachments, but I’ll use Byword as example. In the application, there is the familiar sharing icon (arrow coming out a rectangle). Selecting that offers the option export to Email. When I select email, I can send the document as rich text, plain text, PDF and so on. If I select PDF, Byword will bring up an outbound email message, with the file attached. If you are looking to send Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, the best method is to use your preferred Office suite on the iPhone to share via email.

Attach file PDF

Whether you are sharing photos or documents, the method we’ve outlined on an iPhone or iPad will differ slightly from what you might be accustomed to on a Mac or PC. While iOS offers the capability to share a photo or video directly from within the Mail app, it will not allow you to send multiple photos, something accomplished only through the sharing option within Photos. Similarly, to attach files to an email on iPhone or iPad, you have to use a third party application. The iPhone is capable of sending an assortment of files including Word, Powerpoint, Excel and more. It doesn’t appear as if Apple has any intention of adding a filesystem to iOS, but that’s certainly something we’re hoping comes in iOS 9. With the advent of iCloud Drive, you can now attach files stored in the cloud. For now, these are the best methods for attaching files and photos on iOS.



  1. bazcook

    April 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

    And yet, you still can’t attach, you know, useful things to Mail (like a document, spreadsheet, et al) unless you go to a 3rd Party product – and then, and counter-intuitively, by starting the email that program.

    Apple’s neurosis noted, this could be resolved if the installation of a product of iWorks or the use of iCloud gave users direct access to these files within Mail. Until then, the iOS’s email app remains for the basic of chores – and already handled by other, much simpler apps like iMessage – and certainly not ‘business friendly’.

    • Todju

      April 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      That’s why android tablet is better choice for real multitasking.

  2. Robin

    July 12, 2013 at 8:57 am

    When I follow these steps, the photos aren’t actually attached — they’re inserted directly into the body of the e-mail. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a way to truly attach, so the photos are separate items?

    • Christopher Meinck

      July 12, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Yes, the only method now will insert the image into the email. Depending upon the email client of the recipient, it’s possible that it will show as an attachment.

  3. Robin

    July 12, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Sorry — my previous comment was in reference to a different posting, addressing photos. I’ll go post it in the proper place…please disregard.

  4. jim

    June 17, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I regularly can copy a pdf file and then paste to the email in Mail to send it. With docs and pages I convert to PDF and then send.

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