“Cannot Get Mail” errors on your iPhone? Try this

By , Mar 25, 2016

cannot get mail error message mail app in ios

Every so often when you go to refresh your emails from the Mail app in iOS, you may get an error message like the one shown above that reads, “Cannot Get Mail. The mail server imap.gmail.com is not responding. Verify that you have entered the correct account info in Mail settings.

The problem can be annoying; sometimes it may be an issue with your email settings, and sometimes it may just be a hiccup with the email server or internet connection you have established.

In this tutorial, we’ll go over some troubleshooting steps to get your email inbox to refresh as you would expect it to.

Why do these errors occur?

Most of the time when an email inbox that normally works just fine experiences an issue where it displays the “Cannot Get Mail” error message, it’s going to be related to a hiccup in the internet connection or email server. In these cases, the fix is simply worked around with persistence.

In some scenarios, the problem can be related to your email settings, and some more in-depth troubleshooting may be required. In either case, we’ll go over a number of possible troubleshooting steps below so you can get your email account working again.

Possible fixes to the problem

We’ll start with the easiest and work our way down to the most complicated. We suggest starting small and working your way down the list so you don’t exert more energy than necessary to solve the problem with your email refreshing. Here are some things you can try:

Send an email from the problematic inbox

What seems to work best for me when an inbox will display that error message is to send an email from that account. Because the issue is that Mail can’t fetch new emails, but it certainly can send new ones created by you. In this case, compose a new email and if you have several inboxes, make sure to send the email from the one giving you trouble. I typically send an email to myself with “Test” as the subject line.

In 99% of cases, this actually fixes the issue, albeit temporarily, but I find it to be the least invasive workaround.

Try refreshing the inbox again

Sometimes the problem can be due to a hiccup in your internet connection or your connection to the server. This is a best-case scenario, and is easily worked around by simply pulling down in your inbox to refresh your content.

Pull to Refresh Mail app in iOS

Force-quit the Mail app

Sometimes the problem could be related to a glitch in the Mail app itself. In this instance, simply open the App Switcher, slide up on the Mail card, and go to the Home screen to re-launch the Mail app yet again so it can try to refresh your email inbox.

Force Quit Mail app from App Switcher in iOS

Check your internet connection

Do you have a strong enough cellular or Wi-Fi signal? If your signal is too weak, or you’re not connected at all, then this could be the source of your error message while trying to refresh your email inbox. Try getting closer to a wireless signal and see if the inbox refresh works afterwards.

Check Wi-Fi connection on iOS device

Remove and re-add the troublesome email account

In some cases, the incoming and outgoing server information for your email account may no longer be accepted by the email server. Try removing your email account and re-adding it so that the Mail app can auto-configure the proper settings to refresh your email inbox.

Here are the steps:

1) Launch the Settings app and open the Mail, Contacts, Calendars preferences cell.

remove email account in iOS mail app

2) Open the email account you’re having issues with, and in the following pane, tap on the red Delete Account button.

After you’ve removed the account, you’ll now want to try and re-add it to your Mail app again. To do that, follow these steps:

1) Launch the Settings app and, once again, open the Mail, Contacts, Calendars preferences cell.

add new email account in iOS mail app

2) This time, tap on the Add Account button.

3) Choose from the list of email providers so you can sign in to your email provider to receive emails yet again.

4) Log in with your username and password as you’re prompted:

add gmail account to mail app in iOS

Manually configure server, port, and authentication options

In some cases, the email server may be denying you access because either your ISP is blocking certain ports, or you are using the incorrect incoming and outgoing server settings.

In some cases, you will have to use a special outgoing server provided by your ISP, which is common with some email accounts when trying to send outgoing emails on Verizon FiOS and some other ISPs. In others, you can just configure different ports to be used so that SSL isn’t being called for on a server that doesn’t support it, or vice-versa, as this can cause issues.

Here are the steps to adjust your email account’s outgoing and incoming server settings; we’ll begin with the outgoing settings:

1) Launch the Settings app and open the Mail, Contacts, Calendars preferences cell, then choose the email account you’re having problems with.

iOS email account settings configuration 1

2) Tap on the Account button with your email address inside of it.

3) Tap on the cell under the Outgoing Mail Server header so you can configure your outgoing email server for this account.

configure email server settings ios 2

4) Tap on your primary server that is being used to fetch emails for this account.

5) Under the Outgoing Mail Server header, adjust the host name (server address), username (email address), password, SSL settings, authentication method, and server port number as necessary to comply with the server’s true settings.

In some cases, and I’ve been involved in scenarios like this myself, the server port is set to something that the server doesn’t actually support. For example, I once worked for a company where the email server didn’t support SSL, but I had SSL enabled, and so my device couldn’t send email because it wasn’t able to find a secure connection.

Sometimes, having the incorrectly-typed password can cause issues as well, so simply re-typing it may help solve this problem.

Now that your outgoing settings have been configured how you want them, move on to the incoming email settings:

1) Launch the Settings app and open the Mail, Contacts, Calendars preferences cell, then open the email account you’re having problems with.

configure email incoming server settings 1

2) Tap on the Advanced button to bring up more settings.

configuring ios email incoming settings 2

3) Under the section with the Incoming Settings header, adjust the SSL settings, IMAP Path Prefix, and server port number as necessary to comply with the server you’re receiving emails from.

Once you’re content with the new incoming and outgoing settings, you can force-quit the Mail app, then re-launch it again and try to refresh your email inbox to see if the new settings work any better than the older settings.

Wrapping up

Typically, unless the email server itself is experiencing some kind of down-time, following the step checklist above will help you to get your email inbox refreshed again on the spot.

Also read:

If you found this tutorial helpful, let us know in the comments below!

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  • Anmol Malhotra

    Best workaround: Use 3rd party email clients!

    • kαnαv

      Yep! I’ve tried everything listed here many many times over the last few years but the error was too persistant, switched to CloudMagic and haven’t gotten any errors regardless of the wifi im on

  • Feivl

    Title sounds like: If you want to get mail errors, try this!

  • There is another far simple way to fix it. In Settings=>Mail, Contacts and Calendar=>Your Gmail Account=> turn on or off one of the services (contacts, calendar or notes)

    The logic of this fix is to reinitialize Gmail services connection by adding or removing service.

  • JayDee917

    I get these errors all the time with my gmail accounts, probably get them about once a week and it lasts anywhere from 5 mins to half a day.

    I’ll try the delete and re-add method and see how it goes. Thank you for this post btw.

  • Tim

    To frequently get these errors too, looks like force quitting the app helped. Thanks

  • Joshfei

    This happens to me occasionally and in every instance, a quick respring resolves it for me.