How to attach a PDF or another non-image file to a mail on the iPhone (iOS 9 tutorial)

Apple's iPhone is a great phone and iOS 9 is an important update that brings quite a lot of new features that boost functionality. When it comes to power users, though, it can often be frustrating. For instance, it's simply not possible to save a PDF to the file system yet - you need to save it to an app like iBooks, which makes it impossible to access from an app like Mail.

These sorts of issues are what we often referred to as the closed, limited nature of Apple's iOS ecosystem, as opposed to the much more open and rich in such features Android platform.

The one feature we want to focus today is attaching a PDF file, or really any file different from an image or a video to an email via the stock Mail app. iOS 9 does make this possible. However, it takes quite a lot of fiddling - you need to have the file saved to iCloud Drive, since you cannot simply access the file system on iOS. If you have done this and all your important files and documents are in the iCloud Drive, attaching a file to an email is a breeze. Just follow the steps below to make it work.

Related phones

iPhone 6s
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Apple A9 APL0898, Dual-core, 1840 MHz
  • Storage 128GB
  • Battery 1715 mAh(14h 3G talk time)



1. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3186; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Wow! Apple catches up to PalmOS from 2005. About f**king time.

2. gynorm

Posts: 38; Member since: Jul 31, 2013

+ 1 I hate how people think they're so great for implementing features from like 5 years ago.

7. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3186; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Try 10+ years ago. The iPhone is solely responsible for the dumbing down of "smart" phones. There should be separate categories for "consumer" phones and productivity-based "smart" phones.

12. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

What is funny is, all phones, computers and even OS X attaches files to email the same way it has been done since forever. iOS is the only so=call worlds most advanced operating system that can't. iOS sucks!

3. uktel3315

Posts: 49; Member since: Mar 15, 2013

so, Can you also send that attachment with the mail?

4. miketer

Posts: 545; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

No OS gives the option to attach a pdf to an email directly from the phone (just as we do in a PCI), except for BB10, Everyone gotta appreciate that.

6. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3186; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Android email does, always has. Windows Mobile did as well as Symbian, webOS, PalmOS and legacy BlackBerry. Windows 10 for Mobile has it but it's not in general release yet.

10. FluffyBled unregistered

Looks like you've become an iFan without even trying out any other OS!

13. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

FALSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe your phone. Any phone with an open file system allows you to attach any email up to a certain size and extensions dont matter. I can attch a PDF to an email as I would any JPG, MP# or anything else. This is what happens when you use convoluted backwards ass methods for simple stuff. Apple iOS sucks. Apple doesnt care and nor do their stupid fans.

16. FrenchGuy

Posts: 134; Member since: Dec 12, 2014

Mr or Mrs miketer, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in PhoneArena is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

18. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

Android has file manager so it's easy matter, i can attach ai files, psd files, almost anything & when you'll need to transferig data the device will works like usb storage just plug & play.

5. jove39

Posts: 2149; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Tutorial to attach a file in mail app...shouldn't this be just intuitive? And people say iOS is very simple and easy to use!

8. tntwit

Posts: 86; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

You may not be able to access iBooks from the mail app, but you can open a pdf in iBooks and mail it as an attachment. That might be an inconvenience if you're replying to an email, but otherwise I really don't see the issue.

9. FluffyBled unregistered

I thought iOS is intuitive enough! Why make a tutorial for such thing :o?

14. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Because its convoluted.

15. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

They know it isn't. They just like Steve Jobs, hates being wrong.

17. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

It always has been easy to send attachment via email with iOS. I think they just trying to appeal to the novice and new subscribers. You expert don't need this tutorial.

11. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

A perfect example of convoluted workarounds to do the most simplest things on iOS. Anyone who thinks iOS is so great. Attaching should be 3 steps, compose email, click attachment and browse to the file location preferably on your device and send. Not having mass storage capabilities on a $700 phone is insanely terrible.

19. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Wait...It can't even do this? what the heck is going on here? I am so happy I decided to go Android because I didn't like the design, if I had gone iOS I'd be more then a little bit upset with the lack of...well to me, basic functionality..

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless