Email Stuck in Outbox on iPhone or iPad? How to Fix Unsent Mail in iOS

Aug 14, 2016 - 72 Comments

Fix Stuck Email in Outbox of iPhone or iPad

Have you ever gone to send an email in iOS only to have the message get stuck in the Mail app outbox of iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch? You’ll know when this happens because at the bottom of the Mail app in iOS, the status bar shows “1 Unsent Message” in iOS, or perhaps even more unsent messages if multiple emails are stuck in the outbox.

If you find yourself with email stuck in the outbox of iPhone or iPad, you can use a few simple tricks to quickly fix the problem and send the email on the way..

Fix the Stuck Outbox Message in Mail for iOS with a Reboot

The good news is that most stuck outbox emails can be unstuck by simply rebooting the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

The easiest way to force reboot an iPhone or iPad is to hold down the Power Button and Home Button concurrently until you see the Apple ο£Ώ logo on screen.

Once the iOS device has powered back up again, be sure there is an active wi-fi or data connection, then re-open the Mail app. The Mail message should send on it’s own.

Re-Send a Stuck Outbox Email in iOS

If the email message is still stuck after you have rebooted the iPhone, try resending it. This is easily done through the iOS Mail outbox on the iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Mail app and go to “Mailboxes” then choose “Outbox”
  2. Choose the Outbox to resend the stuck message

  3. Tap on the stuck message in the outbox (usually signified by the stuck email message having a little red (!) icon next to it, or a perpetually spinning status indicator)
  4. Send email stuck in outbox of iOS

  5. Tap on the “Send” button to attempt to re-send the stuck email message

This usually works to push along a stuck email that is sitting unsent in the outbox of iOS.

Delete a Stuck Unsent Email Message in iOS

The other option is to simply delete the stuck outbox email message. This is what you’ll want to do if none of the above tricks work (and they should). Keep in mind if the email is important, you’ll want to copy and paste the email body content into a new message otherwise you will lose the stuck unsent email:

  1. Open Mail app and go to “Mailboxes” then choose “Outbox”
  2. Tap on the “Edit” button in the upper right corner and choose Trash to delete the email message that is stuck in the outbox
  3. Delete a stuck email in outbox on iPhone or iPad

  4. Tap on “Done”

You can also use a swipe-left gesture on the stuck Outbox email message to delete it manually and directly.

Why Does Email Get Stuck Unsent in iOS?

Why this happens depends, but typically it is because an email message is trying to be sent when an internet connection is either inactive, or inadequate. Sometimes that is the cellular connection itself perhaps in a low service area, or sometimes it is the remote mail server that is not responding.

Know of another trick to fix a stuck email in the iPhone outbox? Do you know of a better way to force along an unsent message from iOS Mail app? Let us know in the comments below!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

72 Comments

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  1. Duane King says:

    Thanks for the suggestion but sometimes it’s not always as easy as edit delete. Sometimes you don’t get the edit option. When that happens, put your phone in airplane mode which turns off internet network search. At that time then you will be able to tap on edit then delete the unsent email.
    Hope this helps!!

  2. Chris Laarman says:

    Yes, I do recognize the problem. No, I can usually just wait, sometimes resend.

    Mail is not my primary e-mail app of use, but it gets invoked when I want to refer others to an article (on a webpage).
    I could imagine that this spawning would be the cause of this not-sending (despite the jet sound played).

    I have grown somewhat alert to the situation (and I’m in the habit of always BCC-ing myself), so I may start Mail and notice the unsent messages.

    Usually I can continue using other apps (on an iPad Air 2, the size of RAM may matter) and wait for the messages to eventually get sent in the background. I imagine that this is speeded up by making the account involved active. I may resort to manually trying to send them (when I feel pressed).

  3. Jean says:

    Have you ever “went”???? 😟

    • LynetteOZ says:

      Yes! I ‘went’ to correct the typo and then realised you knew it should have read…. ‘wanted to’…. Duhhh Jean!!

    • Melbourne Captain says:

      “I know words, I have the best words.”

      I have emails, I know the best emails. We are all going to get emails folks, so many emails. Ok? Folks, you’re going to be so tired of getting emails, you’re going to say, please, no more emails. You’re going to be so tired of getting emails, please, no more emails, just once, let them not send an email. It’s going to be the best.

  4. Jim Conrad says:

    I sent an email a couple of days ago and then the next day found this message in my outbox. I thought I had forgotten to send it. I later was looking at my sent box and sure enough there were two copies. I called the recipient and he said “why did you send it twice”, go figure.

  5. Laurel Druce says:

    I am always able to delete by deleting the mail account and then reinstalling. The other suggestions don’t work for me.

  6. UglyStuff says:

    Going into Airplane Mode for just a couple seconds usually solves all connectivity issues in iOS, be it with Mail.app or any other app that relies on your device connecting to a network.

    For example, when the Twitter.app is stuck (it happens a lot in iOS 10 beta…) while you’re sending a tweet, just go into Airplane Mode for, say three or four seconds, then turn Airplane Mode off, and voilΓ …

  7. Wharf Xanadu says:

    I always delete the stuck email and make a new one.

  8. vsteiger says:

    I have multiple email accounts and encounter this problem often when replying to messages. The problem is that the reply message wants to use the smtp server of the location to which it was sent, which is perhaps not available because I’m off site. As mentioned above I found the best solution is to quickly switch to airplane mode, edit the From: field to something that’s available (usually iCloud), and swoooshhh….

  9. imacconvert says:

    This has happened a lot. I have reverted to select the message script, delete the mail and try again pasting it in. If I do not do that, it winds me right up and the iPad is moments away from an increase in gravity downwards to the floor.

  10. Neville Moray says:

    I use two email accounts. One is via wanadoofr.fr using Orange as a server, and sometimes via iCloud.com. Sometimes when I use “Reply” to an incoming wanadoofr message the message gets stuck in the outbox. The “From” line says it is from wanadoofr.fr, but the server sending it is the iCloud.com account. If I click on the “From” line, and then again, Inget a drop down menu with all my mail account addresses. If I click on the iCloud address , and then “Send”, a second header entry appears in the left hand side column. It is then sent successfully. It only takes about 5 seconds to do all this.

  11. Mark C says:

    Hi

    The only way I’ve found that fixes this 100% is to use a VPN connection. Quite frequently the iPhone fails to detect a valid network connection to use.
    Appreciate this may not be the best of solutions for everyone but there are free or very cheap Bon solutions out there and it seems to work for me

  12. CLK says:

    I have tried all of the above, deleted the account entirely and started a new account, checked the settings half a dozen times and it still won’t send off my iPad Pro. I have just given up using mail and started messaging or communicating via my iPad. I could try a chat session with Apple forum but really most of the time that is a waste of time.

    I am more and more disenchanted with Apple, their “help” doesn’t and the changes they make to the system seems more for the employment of bored programmers than to fix anything, in fact they usually “fix” something that wasn’t broken. I won’t bore you with my iCloud complaints.

  13. Michael Hechtman says:

    In OS 10.11, stuck email can be cured by simply quitting email and relaunching.

  14. Lee says:

    I was excited to see this entry in my email, but this is not quite the problem I’m having.
    My stuck email constantly shows a waiting or spinning action, kind of like the pinwheel, and it does it all the time. I’ve tried airplane mode, to reboot, delete, resend, but the latter actions are not available because of the wait action.

    • Mike says:

      Did you get a resolution to this. I’ve tried reboot, airplane mode – nothing stops the spinning. IT won’t send. Just continually stuck here. HAd to delete the account. Took some time, as it was a icloud account – which meant resetting all of the icloud info. pain in the ass. But finally complete.

  15. Hamza Sheikh says:

    I am familiar with the issue. 1 out of 2 times I face this issue with my mail server and iPhone mail application. I thought it was iOS 10 beta, but I got the same issue with iOS 9.3.4 running device.

  16. Deb says:

    Frustrated, but I do not have an “out box” somehow I deleted it. I have the message that there are 3 unsent messages, but no way to get to themπŸ˜’πŸ€”πŸ˜³

  17. D says:

    You can also try resetting network settings to recconnect the server or sign out of the email account and sign back – usually works!

  18. JennA says:

    I too had an unsent email stuck in spinning land for about 3 weeks. Others would delete just fine, but one was truly stuck. After reading these suggestions, Duane and Lee, in particular, I was able to delete the unsent email by putting the phone in airplane mode and THEN rebooting. The edit option was available and poof, it was deleted.

    • Ellen says:

      JennA is correct. Once the phone is put in Airplane mode, shut it down and turn it back on. Only then will you be able to delete.

  19. Rosita says:

    Have tried all the above but I’ve still got mail stuck in my outbox. Only way to send if not at home is iCloud account. Sad because I try to save iCloud for emails of tickets and holiday bookings etc.

  20. Francis says:

    None of your suggestions worked. I have this email and my gmail and it is the gmail that does this on my ipad air

  21. Brian says:

    Thanks You. You are the best. Tried 2days to delete a sending message and your method is the only one that works.

  22. Rachel says:

    Yoav’s trick worked! Have to remember it if this ever happens again.

  23. Gillian says:

    We have two ipads where the exchange mail constantly gets stuck in the outbox and does not send or receive until the ipad connects to wifi, or the user puts airplane mode on and off. I have tried deleting and re-setting the accounts.

  24. Aidan says:

    Hello, I thought your article was very helpful however when I rebooted my Ipad and tried to re-send the stuck email, It didn’t work, it just came back as another stuck email. Is there something wrong with my Ipad itself? or is there something I’m missing?

  25. Kathy says:

    Thank you Yoav from Nov. 4 , 2016! After trying other suggestions without success, your instructions worked!

  26. Jim says:

    Whenever I try to send an email, with any kind of attachment from my iPad, it gets stuck in the outbox, from either gmail or exchange accounts. No problems sending emails w/o attachments. HELP!

  27. Cat says:

    Thank you very much. It worked perfectly

  28. MATH777 says:

    I tried many of the suggestions above, without success.

    My problem started when I tried to send an email to someone else with attachments from my ipad 3.

    I figured the email got jammed/stuck in the outbox (for whatever reason).

    Solution : I opened a pdf file from my ibooks and used the send email option to send that file to myself. I checked on my pc that it was sent and received. It was. The jammed email I tried to send earlier then appeared on my ipad and there was an option to delete it. After that, everything was fine. Problem solved !

  29. JF says:

    Thank you Yoav!

  30. Sherill says:

    Your solution was the only one that worked! Thanks so much!!

  31. Arnie says:

    None of the above worked. What didn’t work was to go to mail find me all that had attachments then delete the attachment.

  32. Arnie says:

    None of the above work because my email had an attachment. What didn’t work was to go to mail find the mail that had attachments locate the one email that was in the outbox then delete that attachment

  33. Sallie says:

    Just now went to most recent stuck message, which was a reply. Returned to my mail and rewrote my response, sent it from my iCloud address and it did not get stuck. Victory! I guess I have to switch to iCloud address everytime to avoid such annoyance. If that does not work, it’s back to telephone and snailmail letters. Now I will go back to the rest of the stuck dozen messages, and if they are not too stale, send from iCloud.

  34. Sallie says:

    I have sent all messages that are still relevant with my iCloud address. They have not gone to outbox. Success!

  35. Claire says:

    Thanks Dwayne, I’ve had an email stuck for 3 months & the airplane mode method worked, you are a complete star!!

  36. Mark says:

    I can figure out how to get it out. But how do I stop it from happening. I’m about ready to throw my iPhone in the blender. Customers constantly complaining they didn’t get paperwork when I sent it. But wait oh there it is in my outbox. F&@$”!? Piece of S&?!

  37. Eric says:

    I have an iPad 2, and an iPad 4. Both devices routinely pull this crap. Apple charges a premium price for products that have to be rebooted every time I want to send an email? Really?? Funny, my Android phone NEVER does this.

  38. Bob says:

    Often happens when I am away from my own router. Always happens when away from UK, anywhere. Then the only way to send is to copy & paste into web mail. No other solution, Apple.

  39. Teena says:

    Thanks Duane King!!!! Airplane mode did the trick!

  40. Kaz says:

    This worked thank you!

  41. Joanne says:

    Thank you Duane King!! πŸ’πŸŽ‰πŸ‘πŸ‘‘πŸŽ‚πŸ₯‡πŸ†πŸ₯πŸŽ‰ The airplane mode suggestion was the only technique that worked!! Apple failed to offer me that option!! 😩

  42. Jg says:

    Thanks Peter. Airplane mode did the trick!

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