iOS 9 Feature Preview: You can finally save or add any type of attachment in the Mail app

iOS 9 logo

iOS 9 finally allows you to save attachments from an email to iCloud Drive or add attachments to an email from iCloud Drive in the Mail app.

Currently, if you want to save an attachment in the Mail app, you have to open the attachment using a third-party app using the Open in option, and then export it to iCloud Drive. While composing an email, you cannot attach any file, you can only add photos from your Camera roll.

If you wanted to add any other type of file as an attachment to an email, then you had to do it using the app that was used to create or edit it, which was quite cumbersome.

iOS 9 will finally address these archaic limitations. It allows you to save any attachment to iCloud Drive. Here’s how it works:

How to save any attachments in the Mail app

  • Open the email with the attachment.
  • Tap to download the file, if it has not been downloaded automatically.
  • Tap and hold on the attachment. It will open the Share sheet.
  • Swipe to the right on the bottom row of icons to access Save Attachment icon (next to the Quick Look icon). Tap on the icon.
iOS 9 - Save attachments
  • It will open iCloud Drive document picker. You can select the folder you want to save the email attachment and then tap on Move to this Location at the bottom to save the file to iCloud Drive.
iOS 9 - Save Attachment - Move to this location
  • You also have the option to change the Locations (an option available at the top left corner). This allows you to save the files directly to third-party storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive etc. You can also save the file directly to your OS X server. At the moment, third-party integration doesn’t seem to be working as Dropbox and Google Drive say “Doesn’t support moving files yet”, which suggests that third-party app developers will have to add support using a new iOS 9 API to add support. The ability to save attachments directly to Dropbox, Google Drive etc. within the iCloud Document picker, instead of using the “Open in” option will be more intuitive.

Similarly, iOS 9 also allows you to attach any type of file from iCloud Drive in the Mail app. Here’s how it works:

How to add attachments to an email in the Mail app

  • Tap on the Compose icon at the bottom right corner to write a new email.
  • Tap and hold in the body area.
  • It will bring up the Action menu. Tap on the right arrow until you see the Add Attachment option.
iOS 9 - Add Attachment - Mail App
  • Tap on Add Attachment. It will open the iCloud Drive document picker.
  • Tap on the document to attach it to the email.

That’s it. The file will be attached to the email. Tap on the Send button once you’re ready to send your email with the attachment.

If you want to attach multiple files to an email, then you need to repeat the above process. You don’t have the option to attach multiple files at once currently when you’re adding attachments to the email.

iCloud Drive app

As we had reported earlier, iOS 9 comes with an all-new and much anticipated iCloud Drive app. Curiously, it is hidden by default. You can enable it via the Settings app (Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive > Show on Home screen).

iOS 9 - iCloud Drive app

You can access the attachments saved from the Mail app using the iCloud Drive app, so you can mail the files as attachments directly from the iCloud Drive app as well. You can use this method if you want to send multiple attachments, which is more convenient than adding the files one by one in the Mail app. It would have been nice to have the swipe feature to select multiple files like you can do in iOS 9 Photos app.

In 2015, it seems weird to get excited about saving and adding attachments, but this new capability in iOS 9 will be a welcome improvement for most users.

The feature will be available in iOS 9 when it is released later this fall.

Note: This is the first of our iOS 9 Feature Preview series where we will take an in-depth look at the new features in iOS 9. We want to uncover the smallest details, so let us know if we’ve missed something.