How to Work with E-Mail Attachments on Your Android Phone - dummies

How to Work with E-Mail Attachments on Your Android Phone

By Dan Gookin

The key to understanding e-mail attachments on your Android phone is to look for the paperclip icon. When you find that icon, you can either deal with an attachment for incoming e-mail or add an attachment to outgoing e-mail.


Dealing with an attachment

The only difference between attachments in the Gmail and Email apps is the way they look. The stock Android method of displaying a message attachment is shown in the following figure. That’s how Gmail displays attachments, and it might also be the way the Email app displays them, though your phone may highlight the attachment differently.


To deal with the attachment, touch it. In most cases, the attachment opens using a given app on your phone. The app used depends on the type of attachment. For example, a PDF attachment might be opened by the QuickOffice app.

Touching the Action Overflow icon displays commands related to the attachment. Here’s a smattering of what you may see:

  • Preview: Open the attachment for viewing.

  • Save: Save the attachment to the phone’s storage.

  • Download Again: Fetch the attachment from the mail server.

As with e-mail attachments received on a computer, the only problem you may have is that the phone lacks the app required to deal with the attachment. When an app can’t be found, you’ll either have to suffer through not viewing the attachment, or simply reply to the message and direct the person to resend the attachment in a common file format.

  • Common file formats include PNG and JPEG for pictures, and HTML or RTF for documents. PDF and DOCX for Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word documents are also common.

  • You may see a prompt displayed when several apps can deal with the attachment. Choose one and touch the Just This Once button to view the attachment.

  • Attachments are saved on either the phone’s internal storage or removable storage (the microSD card). You can view that folder by using the Downloads app. If that app isn’t available, look for a My Files app, or you can obtain a file management app from the Google Play Store.

Sending an attachment

The best way to e-mail an attachment is to use the Share icon. That’s the Android way to send files via e-mail.


Here’s the general procedure:

  1. Visit the app that created the attachment.

    For example, to send a photo, open the Gallery or Pictures app.

  2. View the specific item you want to attach.

    In the Gallery app, view an image full-screen. In the Maps app, view the information card about a location.

  3. Touch the Share icon.

    A list of apps appears.

  4. Choose Email or Gmail.

    You may be prompted with an Always/Just This Once prompt. Choose Just This Once until you’re comfortable with specific apps on your phone.

  5. Compose the message.

    The item is attached to the message.

The computer way of attaching a file to a message is to first use the Gmail or Email apps and write the message. Touch the Action Overflow icon and choose the command Attach File. Use the screen that appears to choose an app, or browse through the files stored on the phone to pick one as an attachment.

When you send the message, the attachment rides along with it. In mere Internet moments, the message and attachment are made available to the recipient(s).

  • Some Email apps may feature the paperclip icon, which you touch to attach a file to the message.


  • It’s possible to attach multiple items to a single e-mail message. Just keep touching the attachment icon for the message to add additional goodies.

  • The variety of items you can attach depends on which apps are installed on the phone.

  • Attachments you receive are easily located by using the Downloads app. Open that app to look for items you can share with others by reattaching them to outgoing e-mail.

  • The Gmail and Email apps sometimes accept different types of attachments. So if you cannot attach something by using the Gmail app, try using the Email app instead.