While email is still an incredibly popular form of communication, it’s not always a part of everyone’s daily life. And if the time comes when you need to send a document, picture, or some other file using Gmail, you’ll need to know how to attach it.

RELATED: How to Attach a File or Image to Email in the iOS 9 Mail App

It may seem like a trivial thing to explain, especially to someone who spends a lot of time working with email. But for the population who doesn’t do this, it can honestly seem a bit daunting. The good news is that sending attachments is actually pretty simple. Let’s get to it.

Note: We’re talking about how to attach files in Gmail for iOS in this post. For Android, head here. And if you’re looking for how to attach files in the default email app, go here.

Oftentimes, anything you’ll need to attach will first have to be downloaded. The primary exception here is if you need to actually take a picture of something. In that case, attaching the file directly in Gmail is the easiest way.

How to Attach an Image or Document in Gmail

This is likely the most common scenario in which you’ll need to attach a file, and thankfully, it’s also the most straightforward.

If you need to attach an image, go ahead and fire up Gmail and start a new email by tapping the “pen” button in the bottom right corner.

In the new email message, tap the little paperclip icon in the upper right. Choose the image you’d like to add—everything should show up in the Camera Roll, regardless of whether it’s a screenshot, camera image, or downloaded picture.


Note: If you need to first download the file, you can do so by long-pressing the image on the web and choosing “Save Image.”

The same pretty much applies for documents, though it can be a bit more convoluted. Since Gmail is a Google product, it directly integrates with Google Drive, which is the simplest way of attaching documents to your emails.

So, you’ll first need to make sure the file you want to attach is saved in Drive. In most scenarios, the document you need to attach is likely coming from another email, so the best thing you can do is open the attachment in Gmail, then tap the “Drive+” icon in the top right to save the file to Drive. You can then edit it in the appropriate Google Drive app: Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

From there, fire up Gmail again, hit the pen icon, then tap the paperclip. Choose “My Drive” and find your file. Easy peasy.

If the file you need to attach isn’t coming from another email, you can easily upload it by using the Google Drive app’s upload function. Just tap the “+” icon in the bottom corner, and then choose the “Upload” option. You can then attach said file to your email pretty easily.

How to Download and Attach Files that Aren’t Images or Documents

Due to the limited nature of iOS, downloading and attaching files—especially anything that isn’t a document or image—can be a challenge. It takes a bit of work if you plan on attaching an executable, zip, or some other sort of file.

The easiest workaround here is to save the file directly to Gmail.

When you download the file, Safari defaults to an “Open in…” box. Tap the “More” button here, and then choose the “Gmail” option.


Note: If Gmail isn’t an option here, scroll to the end of the first line and choose the “More” option. Slide the toggle next to Gmail to add it to your share sheet.

When you save a file to Gmail via the share sheet, Gmail automatically creates a new message with the file already attached and ready to send.

Profile Photo for Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is ex-Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek and served as an Editorial Advisor for How-To Geek and LifeSavvy. He covered technology for a decade and wrote over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
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