Easy Fixes for Tap to Download Not Working (2023)

What to Know

  • If tap to download is not working, confirm you have a strong 5G or Wi-Fi connection, and try turning Airplane Mode on & off again.
  • You can also try signing out of iMessage and back in: Open Settings > Messages > Send & Receive > Apple ID > Sign Out > Use your Apple ID for iMessage > Sign In.
  • If all else fails, you can try resetting your network settings.

On the iPhone, when you receive images or other types of attachments, they are supposed to load immediately. Occasionally, you might instead see a message that says "Tap to Download" where an attachment should be, or, on newer versions of iOS, you might simply see a simple download button. When you tap that button, you can download the attachment. However, what should you do when tap to download is not working?

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How to Fix Tap to Download Not Working on iPhone

When network conditions are poor and someone sends you an image or another type of attachment through iMessage, you might see a message that says "Tap to Download" or a gray message bubble with a download button, like this:

screenshot showing tap to download button

If your iMessage photos are not loading and tap to download is not working, there could be a problem with your iPhone’s network connection. For more iPhone troubleshooting advice, be sure to sign up for our Tip of the Day newsletter. Now, let’s get started with solving why your iMessage pictures are not downloading.

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Check for Updates

The first thing to check is to confirm that your iPhone is up-to-date. If there is an update available, it could fix any issues you are experiencing. Once you’ve checked whether or not there are any updates available, you can start narrowing down what the actual problem is.

How to Check Your Network Connection

Now that you’ve checked for software updates, the next step is to check your network connection. If you don’t have a strong cellular or Wi-Fi connection, it might explain why tap to download is not working.

  1. Swipe down from the upper right to open the Control Center.

    Swipe down from the upper right to open the Control Center.
  2. On the left, you’ll see your network status. If you see a 5G or LTE symbol, you should have no problem downloading images.

    On the left, you’ll see your network status. If you see a 5G symbol you should have no problem downloading images.
  3. If you are connected to Wi-Fi, this should also allow you to download images and attachments. Look for the conical, banded Wi-Fi symbol to confirm your wireless connection.

    If you are connected to Wi-Fi, this should also allow you to download images and attachments.

If your network connection is fine but tap to download is still not working, Airplane Mode might help solve the problem.

How to Turn Airplane Mode On & Off

Turning Airplane Mode on and off softly resets your wireless connections, by turning off your Wi-Fi and cellular. All you have to do is tap the airplane icon in the Control Center, wait a few seconds while your phone turns off its wireless connection, then tap the icon again to turn it off again. You’ll know whether or not Airplane Mode is on if the icon is orange:

You’ll know whether or not Airplane Mode is on if the icon is orange

Once you’ve turned Airplane Mode on and off again, check to see if you’re able to download your iMessage images.

How to Sign Out of iMessage

Another method that has worked for some users is to sign out of iMessage and back in:

  1. Open the Settings app, and tap Messages.

    Open the Settings app, and tap Messages.
  2. Tap Send & Receive.

    Tap Send & Receive.
  3. Tap your email address.

    Tap your email address.
  4. Tap Sign Out.

    Tap Sign Out.
  5. Tap Use your Apple ID for iMessage.

    Tap Use your Apple ID for iMessage.
  6. Tap Sign In.

    Tap Sign In.

After you sign back into iMessage with your Apple ID, see if tap to download works. If you are still having issues with tap to download not working, the problem might be your iPhone’s storage.

How to Check iPhone Storage

If your iPhone is having trouble downloading images or attachments, you might not have enough storage available on your iPhone. Here’s how to check your storage:

  1. Open the Settings app, and tap General.

    Open the Settings app, and tap General.
  2. Tap iPhone Storage.

    Tap iPhone Storage.
  3. Here, you can see how much storage your iPhone has, and what data is currently occupying your device.

    Here, you can see how much storage your iPhone has, and what data is currently occupying your device.

If you’re having trouble making space on your phone or managing your iCloud drive, we have a few different articles to help you optimize your iPhone storage.

How to Reset Network Settings

If all else fails, there might be an issue with your network connection. You can always try resetting your network settings.

Warning: This should be your last resort, as this will reset ALL of your network settings, including your Wi-Fi settings. This means you will lose any saved Wi-Fi passwords, so you’ll need to log in again.

  1. Open the Settings app, and tap General.

    Open the Settings app, and tap General.
  2. Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone.

    Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  3. Tap Reset.

    Tap Reset.
  4. Tap Reset Network Settings.

    Tap Reset Network Settings.
  5. Enter your passcode to proceed.

    Enter your passcode to proceed.

Once your network settings are reset, check if your images and attachments are downloading now. If you are still having trouble with tap to download not working, you may need to contact Apple Support or visit a nearby Apple Store for further assistance. Next, find out how to customize your iMessage contact photo!

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Author Details

Rhett Intriago's picture

Author Details

Rhett Intriago

Rhett Intriago is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, offering his expertise in all things iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. He enjoys writing on topics related to maintaining privacy in a digital world, as well as iPhone security. He’s been a tech enthusiast all his life, with experiences ranging from jailbreaking his iPhone to building his own gaming PC.

Despite his disdain for the beach, Rhett is based in Florida. In his free time, he enjoys playing the latest games, spoiling his cats, or discovering new places with his wife, Kyla.