Resolving the “Unable to Download Item. Please Try Again Later” Error Message on iPhone

May 20, 2015 - 48 Comments

Unable to Download Item. Please Try again later - error message iPhone

A somewhat strange error message can occur at random on iOS, typically for iPhone users, that states “Unable to Download Item. Please try again later” with a “Done” and “Retry” button options. The thing that makes this error message strange is that it appears at random and not after the user has attempted to download or update anything to the iOS device.

So what should you do if you get this error message on your iPhone or iPad at random, sometimes even repeatedly?

Assuming you didn’t actually try to download anything (and if you did try to download something and got this message, simply check your network connection and try again – that should be the end of it), just tap on “Done” and it should go away, if you tap on “Retry” it can often cause the error message to keep returning over and over again. If you do immediately see the “Unable to Download” error message again, try the following:

  1. Flip open Control Center and tap to enable AirPlane mode
  2. Tap on the “Done” button to dismiss the error
  3. Wait about 15 seconds then disable Airplane mode

That should be the end of the message, and you will likely never see it again.

There are a variety of attempted explanations for the Unable to Download Item message in iOS, most of which have to do with iTunes Match, iBooks, or the iOS Automatic Updates feature which downloads apps, music, and media, but turning off that feature may still lead to the message appearing. Some users were also able to narrow the error message down to the weird U2 album thing, but again that’s not consistent. The only thing consistent about this error message is that it’s not particularly consistent, which perhaps indicates that it’s more of a bug than much else.

If you’ve encountered this message for a legitimate reason, or out of the blue, and you discovered why it happened or a way to dismiss it that’s different from the Airplane mode trick above, do let us know in the comments!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Troubleshooting

48 Comments

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  1. Brian B says:

    I had the issue for months on end and tried all of the reported things to fix it. None worked. I finally discovered that it was caused by the Overcast app that was trying to download some old podcasts that were no longer available online. When I deleted the incomplete downloads from Overcast the problem was (finally) gone.

    The general issue seems to be related to background downloads of apps, podcasts, music, etc. that fail, and are retried over and over. It seems that many different causes can lead to the same cryptic popup.

    It would be helpful if the dialog displayed which download failed in which app, so that the user could take the correct action to cancel the download.

    • Roger Roger says:

      I had the same problem, came up all the time. I deleted Overcast and it went away after that.

    • Sarah says:

      I was kept getting this same error message intermittently when connected to wifi over the past few months. After reading your comment I tried deleting all the podcasts in my podcast app (don’t know if it’s called overcast – it’s just the one that was already on my phone – the purple one) and I think it worked! I was in the middle of trying to do a iCloud backup but the error message was preventing the backup from completing and now it’s working. Thanks!

  2. Martin Cohen says:

    I get this a lot on my Verizon Galaxy Note 3. Don’t know what causes it or how to stop it.

    I may try some of the suggestions.

  3. mudsak says:

    Your website is awesome. I can’t tell you how many little nagging issues you’ve helped me solve over the years. Anytime I ever see “osxdaily” returned in my google search to any question I might have… I always click on your links first… because you always have the right answer. A+ for consistently having such a solid site. I always click some of your ads just to offer some support. Have a great day.

  4. Orion says:

    Thanks for the tips. I updated Vodaphone via the app (previously set to manual updates, which I hadn’t ever done), and (fingers crossed) it seems like a fix.

  5. Cucu says:

    I’m getting “unable to download app” when trying to download tinder. I can download any other free app. Why?

  6. Ajimy says:

    I reset my setting only it worked :)
    Setting>general>reset>reset all setting

  7. Vince says:

    I bought the NBA2k16 at Apple store but an error always appeared “Unable to download at this time” .. please help!

  8. Brooklyn says:

    I’m getting the same error message… My 4s is quite new and it’s annoying!!!! How do I get apps please

  9. Diane says:

    I started having problems after the new year started and cannot download CNN or a voice recorder update and had deleted those after a dozen tries. But the Weather and iMessage updates I was able to download and I downloaded a solitaire game.

    I called Apple and they have no idea what is the problem or what do about it after talking to them for over an hour.

    I downloaded 9.2 software update and reset lots of things on my phone and still cannot download CNN or the voice recorder and update. So odd.

    Like others have mentioned, when the error shows, it takes over and locks the screen and I can’t get to the swipe or into settings to turn on airplane mode.

  10. Brbick says:

    Having same issue. It started for me after I switched internet providers. Set my new network up and viola there it is. I installed a new modem and new router after changing service providers. I’ve got about 6 iOS devices in my house plus other things on the network. What I found is that I’d reset the router, setup a new network and the error might not be on my phone but now my kids phone. I try again and his phone works but then another does not. So it’s totally due to the network from what I can tell and it jumps from device to device. I’m using an ASUS router. Baffled by this. Any ideas please share.

  11. Brbick says:

    Update. On the device with the issue I went into wifi settings and clicked renew lease. It may have fixed the issue. So far so good.

  12. jim delouise says:

    your tip worked on my galaxy android phone, thanks thanks

  13. Roxanne says:

    I keep getting this message randomly and multiple times in a row even when I select “done”. It is more persistent since I updated to OS9. It makes me want to delete the update because the message is so frequent. There is nothing wrong with my available storage or my internet connection when I get this message.

  14. Dakota says:

    My I phone is still not working I want to download airshou and it still shows I can’t download it

  15. rohit bhateja says:

    i cant open control without taping done or retry…even i have done reset my iphone and i have also changed my iclould id…still facing the prblm.pls help

  16. Bakry says:

    use VPN connection then fore sure it will works

  17. elab says:

    i want to download some applications on my ios but it doesnt work .. the unable download app pop up on the screen. pls help

  18. Shaye says:

    3/16/16
    Having this problem, quite out of the blue, today. Have tried many options to no avail. I wonder if it’s an App Store issue?

  19. Anupriya says:

    I have iPhone 6s and I m facing a problem in app. Messages is still appearing “unable to download app”… Please help me out as soon as possible

  20. vanjowap says:

    guys I have been playing Clash Royale since February, then just 4days before today my friend uninstall my game, now I want to download it again but then its been 3days I’ve receiving “Unable to download this app” .. guys help me pls, I tried changing providers but still not working, I tried SkyBroadband, Globe, and PLDT,. help me please.

  21. Daniyal says:

    Same problem occurs in my 5s what can i do to solve this

  22. danni says:

    i want this to work

  23. Rick says:

    Same issue , unable to download try again !! iPhone 4 . Some videos play others don’t ! Now my songs are aching up . Choose one song and another random song plays !! Paid good money over the years , very disappointed !!

  24. Donovan says:

    Hi All,

    I had the same problem for a few days now. Read through this thread and still couldn’t resolve it. Then I decided to just update whatever apps I had (16 updates as per the App Store). After a few updates, I tried downloading a brand new app…. And it just worked.

    So for me, it was just a matter of updating SOME of my existing apps then I could download new apps. Hope this works for you guys too.

    Regards,
    Donovan

  25. Martin says:

    I already check and it’s the handset’s problem as the data is not working well. Try connecting to Wifi. It should solve your issue

  26. Taylor says:

    For me this message started popping up a few days ago. It’s very frustrating and I am unable to download any apps. And when I hold down the power and home button to reboot, my iPhone screen gets stuck on the apple logo and I have to connect to iTunes and go into recovery mode. Not sure how to fix it.

  27. Elia says:

    Yes I have the same prob with the “unable to download app” and kept rebooting, reset all networks, change to airplane mode all that but it didn’t work. Switching on my VPN and downloading the apps helped me a lot and voila it’s done yayyy

  28. Ammar says:

    It worked thanks a lot

  29. Steve says:

    This has just started for me. iPhone 5c using iTunes 12.2.2.25. Unable to get new iTunes on my old MacBook and I think this is all about Apple trying to get me to buy a new laptop. Message is constant: “unable to verify update. Not connected to internet.” Except that I am. iTunes says ios 9.3.3 is the latest version, but 9.3.4 has been out for a while now

  30. Sherman says:

    Received this message after iOS 9.3.3 jailbreak. Wondering if it’s the jailbreak itself or apps associated with Cydia. I’ve already gotten what I needed from the JB so if that’s the issue, are you able to guide me through “un” jailbreaking so that I can get a clean start? Thanks

  31. James says:

    Had this same ongoing issue trying to download the “Viber” app. Here’s what worked for me. I went to my general settings-wifi setting-reset network settings. Let the phone restart, then tried downloading the app again via cellular service BEFORE I reconnected to my wifi. It still took awhile but finally downloaded. It got hung up at about 3/4 of the way in…but never got the message again…probably took around 5-10 mins total to download, which is still weird, but whatever…atleast it worked this time.

  32. Wade Pahad says:

    Hay I’m trying to upload a video on my iPhone to an editing app and none of my videos can share or download, please help

  33. Ishraq Imran Nasif says:

    Hi. I am unable to download netflix. It says ‘ It can’t be downloaded at this time with a retry download and done option. ‘ I tried the flight mode thing but it still does not work. What should I do?

  34. Ishraq Imran Nasif says:

    Hey, I downloaded it using mobile date instead of wifi and it worked.

  35. Philip Liddell says:

    I deleted the Music icon, touch and hold then press the x. Then I redownloaded the Music app from the App Store. Never saw the “error” message again. Problem solved. Try it, or something similar .

  36. Julie says:

    I deleted the music icon and re downloaded the app and it worked. Thank you for the tip!!

  37. Suz says:

    I just had the same problem with my iPhone 6 plus. In short, I shut my phone off, waited a minute then all was back to normal when I turned it back on.
    The only thing I was doing at the time was trying to text a pano photo from photos to someone without an iPhone. I wasn’t sure it was going to work (but I have sent them regular photos from the same app). I got the red explanation point saying not delivered and tried again. Then I tried changing, in settings, to send photos with lower quality, in hopes that would work; got same error. After that, I started getting the “UNABLE TO DOWNLOAD” error with retry or send… I tried to resend 1st and kept getting the error at same time my phone slowed down and my screen started freezing (no matter what app i was in at the time). I tried hitting the Done button thereafter. I changed my setting back to reg quality and deleted the pano texts I was trying to send. When continued to get the error I found this website, but I kept getting the error and screen freezes making it impossible for me to read the article. That’s when I rebooted my phone.
    Thank You —

  38. Darryll says:

    What is the sh-t problem to this phone ive tried everthing it just ending with desame situation need help pls

  39. Mark says:

    You can’t do anything until you dismiss the message so this “solution” will never work.

  40. Richard says:

    I was having the same issues; Can’t share photo, try later….

    My guess: Sharing from the camera roll doesn’t seem to work on older pics that may have been backed up to iCloud. But, it worked when, I shared the same photo from the iPhone photo app(not thru the camera). Maybe this is to save phone storage space?

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