How to Save Attachments on the iPhone

by Tim M on March 7, 2010

Seeing as I am heading overseas soon, I needed a way of saving attachments (pdfs, specifically, for plane itineraries and passport scans) from emails on my iPhone (both from the Mail app and from a browser) to my iPhone. I didn’t want to have them just attached to emails (even IF I had downloaded them), just in case.

There are a couple of problems with me wanting to do this.

  1. There’s no way to natively save attachments except images in the iPhone (without some serious mucking around with iPhone hacks).
  2. There’s no file browser on the iPhone.

So, as frequently needed with Apple products, we need a hack.

As an aside: why on Earth don’t Apple just open up their platform and let people get crazy creative; they’d sell LOADS more iPhones and iPods. This whole business of having to download Cydia to get proper access to your terminal is ridiculous.

In any case, in order to be able to save email attachments, you have two options.

  1. Download Cydia, which allows you to hack your iPhone. Cydia is pretty easy to install, but involves a fair bit of stuffing around, particularly if you’re not techy. Additionally, some of the plugins for Safari/Email cost around $2.00, and the ones I downloaded and paid for didn’t work. You can read how this can be done over here.
  2. Download an iPhone app that allows you to do this. This is the favoured route, and is what I describe below.

So, here’s how to save attachments from your iPhone email to your actual phone.

Note that this only works when accessing your email in a web browser. If anyone knows how to do this from within the iPhone Mail app, please let me know.

  1. Download Downloads Lite from the App store on your iPhone. I couldn’t find it online sorry, so no link. It’s definitely in the App store on your iPhone though.
  2. Open a browser and navigate to your mail.
  3. Find an email with an attachment.
  4. Attachment in mail (in browser)

    Attachment in mail (in browser)

  5. Click on the attachment and open it. You’ll see the URL of the attachment above the attachment itself. Highlight the URL and copy it.
  6. Opened attachment - see the URL?

    Opened attachment - see the URL?

    Click on the URL

    Click on the URL

    Select the URL and Copy

    Select the URL and Copy

  7. Open up Downloads Lite. Click the Downloads icon in the toolbar.
  8. Open Downloads Lite

    Open Downloads Lite

  9. Click the + icon in the top right corner. It will open a dialogue where you can enter the URL you copied from the browser where your mail attachment URL was.
  10. URL bar

    URL bar

  11. Click the “Address” input; the paste button will appear; click it. Your attachment URL is now pasted in.
  12. Paste URL

    Paste URL



  13. Hit “Done”. Your attachment will start downloading.
  14. Downloading






  15. When it’s done, you can open it from the Downloads or Files menu.
  16. Open Sesame!

    Open Sesame!

  17. Voila! Enjoy!
  18. Magic!


The pros to this process.
Attachments can be saved.

It’s a royal pain in the arse (fk you Apple, fix this!).
You can’t do this from within the native Mail App.
You can’t forward an attachment from within the Downloads Lite app (there may be others that let you do so).

If anyone knows of any apps that let you do the same thing, apart from Downloader Lite, let me know in the comments.

The files are saved in the App. If anyone knows how I can access these outside the App (e.g. an App store iPhone file system browser) let me know.


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Finally! - iPhone Forum
April 14, 2011 at 12:08 am

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