Message Attachments on Your Android Tablet

By Dan Gookin

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

Receiving an attachment

Attachments are presented differently between the Gmail and Email apps, yet your goal is the same: to view the attachment or save it. Sometimes you can do both!

This image shows both the Gmail app and Email app methods of presenting an email attachment. To deal with the attachment, tap it. In most cases, the attachment opens an appropriate app on your tablet. For example, a PDF attachment might be opened by the QuickOffice app.

Attachment methods and madness.

Attachment methods and madness.

The Gmail attachment features the Action Overflow icon. Tap that icon to control specifically what to do with the app. Actions you might see include

  • Preview: Open the attachment for viewing.

  • Save to Drive: Send a copy of the attachment to your Google Drive (cloud) storage.

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

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

As with email attachments received on a computer, the only problem you may have is that the tablet lacks the app required to deal with the attachment. When an app can’t be found, you have to either 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.

  • Sometimes, pictures included in an email message aren’t displayed. Tap the message’s Show Pictures button to see the images.

  • Common image file formats include PNG and JPEG. Documents are shared by using the HTML (web page), DOCX (Microsoft Word), and PDF (Adobe Acrobat) file formats.

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

  • Attachments are saved in the Downloads or Download folder on either the tablet’s internal storage or its removable storage (the MicroSD card).

Sharing an attachment

When sending an email attachment on an Android tablet, don’t think about the method. Instead, think about the attachment: Which app on the tablet created that attachment? When you know that, you’re ready to follow these steps:

  1. Open the app that created the item you want to attach.

    Popular apps for sharing include Photos, Gallery, the web browser app, Maps, Play Store, Drive or any other cloud storage app, and so on.

  2. View the item you want to share.

    For example, an image, a document, an app in the Play Store, a web page, or a location on a map.

  3. Tap the Share icon.

  4. Choose the Gmail or Email app.

  5. Complete the message.

    The item you’re sharing is automatically attached to the message or included as a link.

Sharing an item is the Android tablet method of attaching something to an email message. You’re probably more familiar with the computer method, which is to compose the message first and then attach. You can still do that: Tap the Attachment (paperclip) icon when creating a new message. Choose an app or category, and then select the item to share.

You’ve got to admit, however, that finding the item first, and then sharing it, works better on a mobile device.

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

  • 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.