Tap To Download Not Working On iPhone’s iMessage App: What to Do When Your iPhone Won’t Download Pictures

When messaging friends and family, it’s nice to be able to send and receive multimedia messages (MMS) like images and videos. Usually, you can also download any photos you received, saving them to your iPhone’s local storage and your iCloud’s cloud storage. 

But sometimes, you encounter issues when trying to download iMessage multimedia. You find the Tap to Download not working, even though it’s what you see on your screen in lieu of the image. It seems that nothing is happening, no matter how many times you tap the button.

tap to download not working on iPhone - featured image

Continue reading to learn more about how Tap to Download is supposed to function, what might be causing this issue, and how you can fix it. 

What is Tap to Download?

Tap to Download is a functionality of the iOs messaging app known as iMessage. It lets users download any multimedia content shared in the iMessage app with a screen tap. 

When it works correctly, all you need to do is tap on the Tap to Download marker that replaces the image in question. This will download the image onto your iPhone or iPad, adding it to your iCloud and Photos app. 

You’ll notice the image name and the size of the image are also listed in place of the image when the Tap to Download option appears.

tap to download not working - featured image

In most cases, this functionality appears because you cannot download the image when you first received it. Maybe you didn’t have adequate service or were out of high-speed data (using only 3G/LTE). Or perhaps you lacked sufficient storage on your iPhone to download the photo. 

If you’re not connected to Wi-Fi or running low on data, you cannot download a multimedia file immediately. Instead, the Tap to Download option appears so your phone wouldn’t continue trying to download an image when there is no data for that. When you got data or return to an area with Wi-Fi, you can then proceed to download the image. 

Some of these conditions could also make you unable to load photos on your iPhone. But that is a different topic altogether that we discussed at length in another article.

What Issue Do Users Experience with Tap to Download?

Unfortunately, the Tap to Download functionality does not always work as intended. Users have reported the following issues:

  • Tap to Download does not respond. When users tap on the button, nothing happens, and the image is not downloaded to the Photos app/iCloud. 
  • Tap to Download appears on older images in an iMessage conversation, but it does not work. This prevents users from saving potentially important images that were sent to them in the past. In this situation, the newer images in message threads do not appear to be affected.

What Causes the Tap to Download Issues?

This issue is a major problem because it keeps iPhone users from actively sharing images, but what is actually causing Tap to Download to fail? We’ve found a few potential causes that might be contributing to this issue, though there is no 100% identifiable reason reported by users:

  1. Lack of Storage – To download a multimedia image using Tap to Download, you must have sufficient storage on your phone or iCloud. If not, then Tap to Download will appear not to work. 
  2. iCloud is Full– Any content you download to your iOS device is backed up to your iCloud account. iCloud is an essential cloud storage unit for all of your images, passwords, files, and other data, but it is not infinite. If your iCloud is full, you may be unable to use Tap to Download.
  3. iCloud Service is Down – While Apple has a pretty good track record with its services, it’s possible that iCloud is down for a moment. If this is the case, the Tap to Download function may not work. You can check Apple’s website for information about the status of their services.  
  4. Software Bug – The failure of Tap to Download to work as intended may just be a software bug that is impacting iCloud or iMessage. 
  5. No Internet Connection – You need to be connected to the internet for the image to download using Tap to Download. Your iPhone might say you are connected, but if there is no actual data transfer, then images won’t download, no matter how many times you tap. Check that your Wi-Fi or network connection is actually transferring data with something like a Speed test, or just reset all network settings. 

How to Fix Issues with Tap to Download Not Working?

If your iPhone doesn’t download an image or video file promptly, and the Tap to Download button is not working as well, there are 6 troubleshooting methods you can try:

1. Restart Your iPhone

Before you do anything else to fix the issues with Tap to Download, you should try to restart your iPhone first. If for some reason, you are not sure how to do it, you can find out specific steps for each iPhone model on this Apple support page

restarting the iPhone to solve the tap to download not working issue
Screenshot of the instruction page from Apple Support.

2. Close and Reopen the iMessage App

You can also try closing the iMessage app to ensure it’s not just an issue with that session of iMessages. To close iMessages, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click your home button (older iPhones/iPads) or swipe up and hold until the App Viewer list comes up. 
  2. Scroll through the list of apps until you find the iMessage app. Then swipe up to close the app. Now you can open iMessage again and you will be in a fresh session of the app.
close and reopen the iMessage app - solving the tap to download not working issue

3. Check MMS Messaging Options

MMS messaging is on by default, but if you’ve turned it off at some point (on purpose or accidentally), you’ll need to enable MMS to download images from your iMessage app. Follow the steps outlined below to check that MMS is enabled:

  1. Navigate to the Settings app, then scroll down and tap Messages
find messages in settings - solving tap download not working iPhone issue
  1. Scroll down until you see the SMS/MMS header, which contains the MMS Messaging setting. You’ll be able to see if MMS is toggled on. If it’s not, do that now. 
toggling on MMS - solving tap to download not working issue

4. Logout of iCloud/Apple ID, then Log Back In

To use the iMessage app, you must be logged into your Apple ID. If there are any problems with your Apple ID, like an incorrect password, corrupt file, syncing issue, or bugs, this might be causing the Tap to Download problem. 

You can eliminate this possibility by signing out of your Apple ID for your iMessage app. This will delete any files or other saved information on your Apple ID. Follow these steps to log out of Apple ID and then log back in:

  1. Navigate to the Settings application on your iPhone and then scroll down to tap Messages.
log out of Apple ID and iCloud and log back in
  1. From the Messages page, tap Send & Receive.
  2. Then tap on the Apple ID that you use for messaging. A popup message will prompt you to Remove Number/AppleID from iMessage and FaceTime? Click Remove to confirm. 
remove number from iMessage and FaceTime option - troubleshooting tap to download not working issue

Now that you’ve logged out of your Apple ID, it might be a good idea to restart your iPhone to ensure all the changes are applied. Then you’ll need to log in again. 

  1. Head back to the Settings app and tap Messages again. 
  2. Tap on your Apple ID and then follow the prompts to sign in. You’ll need to provide your password. 

5. Check Storage Space

You should also verify that you have sufficient storage to download images from your iMessage app. If you are low on storage space, you can delete apps, large videos, and any files that you don’t need to free up some space: 

  1. Navigate to the Settings app, then scroll down and tap on General.
  2. From the General page, find and tap iPhone Storage
check the storage space to see if it was causing tap to download not working
  1. Give your iPhone time to check the state of your storage (it may take 30-60 sec). Then you can identify how much space you have left on your iPhone and what is taking up most of your space. 
lack of storage space can cause the tap to download not working problem

6. Reset Network Settings

It’s possible that the Tap to Download issue is not strictly related to the iMessages app and is, instead an internet or network problem. 

You can eliminate any problems with stored Wi-Fi passwords or your network settings by using the Reset Network Settings option. Just be aware that this will remove all of your saved Wi-Fi passwords and stored settings, so you’ll need to re-enter the passwords when you try to use local Wi-Fi. 

Follow these steps to Reset Network Settings:

  1. Navigate to the Settings app, then select the General option. 
  2. At the bottom of the list, tap Transfer or Reset, then Reset. Finally, Reset Network Settings. This will remove all of your saved Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices and restart your iPhone.
resetting iPhone to solve the tap to download not working issue in iPhone

In case your iPhone does not connect to Wi-Fi again, we can also help you out in this situation. We have a dedicated article that specifically addresses this problem, which you can access through the link we provided.

Tap to Download Not Working, Solved!

If Tap to Download is not working properly on your iPhone, you most likely have an issue with your Wi-Fi or network, have no space left on your iPhone or iCloud, or have turned MMS messages off in your settings. It’s also possible that there is an issue on Apple’s end, like a software bug, that you will not be able to fix yourself. 

By following the solutions outlined in this article, you’ll cover all of the primary reasons that could be causing the Tap to Download not working. If none of these solutions fix the problem, you are probably looking at something on Apple’s end. Perhaps an Apple Support Tech can provide further help. 

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