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Can't send or receive pictures on an iPhone? Here's how you can try to fix it

Look to network issues first and foremost.
By

Published onNovember 17, 2023

Even if we don’t always recognize it, one of the primary things we do with our smartphones is share photos with others — be it flirting with someone, sharing vacation pictures, or just trying to show our partner cereal choices at the grocery store. Sometimes those pictures can fail to send or receive — here’s how to fix that if you’re using an iPhone, at least in Messages, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp.

Messages app/iMessage

Apple iMessages on iPhone stock photo 3

For some quick clarification, iMessage is Apple’s proprietary chat network, accessed through the Messages app. But Messages also handles SMS, MMS, and (soon) RCS content from Android devices, the latter of two of which can be used for photos.

Try these troubleshooting steps:

  • Check your internet connection. A weak cellular or Wi-Fi connection may actually be the most common cause of undelivered pictures. If that seems to be case, all you can usually do is relocate somewhere with better signal, connect to Wi-Fi if you’re on cellular, or try unburdening the Wi-Fi network you’re on. Things like torrent downloads or 4K video streaming can consume much or all of your available Wi-Fi bandwidth.
  • Check that MMS messaging is enabled. If your problem involves sending or receiving photos from Android users, it could be that MMS was accidentally disabled. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Messages and see if MMS Messaging is toggled on.
  • Check that iMessage is enabled. Both MMS and iMessage should be on by default, but it’s worth covering your bases. Go to Settings > Messages and check that the iMessage toggle is on. While you’re at it, tap on Send and Receive and make sure your phone number and e-mail address(es) are selected as options. The people you’re exchanging images with will also need to have iMessage enabled for anything to be delivered that way.
  • Verify that iMessage servers are operating normally. While it’s rare, Apple servers sometimes go down because of glitches, network issues, or scheduled maintenance. You can verify that on the company’s System Status page.
  • Restart your iPhone. This probably won’t accomplish anything, but restarting your iPhone may potentially solve caching issues or stuck processes.
  • Reset network settings. This should be a last resort, since your iPhone will forget all of its saved cellular and network connections, forcing you to reconnect manually. If nothing else seems to be working, follow our guide to get started.

Facebook Messenger

 

Facebook Messenger on phone stock phoro 1

You’ll spot some common themes here, but there are also issues unique to third-party iPhone apps.

  • Check your internet connection. As with Messages problems, a weak cellular or Wi-Fi connection could be the culprit. Try relocating somewhere with better signal, connecting to Wi-Fi if you’re on cellular, or halting bandwidth-heavy activities on your Wi-Fi network, such as 4K video streaming.
  • Keep pictures under filesize limits. The maximum filesize allowed by Messenger is 25MB, which should be more than enough in most cases — even a 24-bit JPEG in Messenger’s maximum 4096 x 4096 resolution is less than 4MB. But if you start trying to send RAW or otherwise uncompressed images, you can easily hit that ceiling.
  • Make sure that cellular data is enabled for Messenger. If you’re on 4G or 5G, it could be that you’ve set Messenger to avoid using mobile data. Go to Settings > Messenger and toggle on Cellular Data.
  • Update the Messenger app. However unlikely, it’s possible that bugs are interfering, or that your version of Messenger is outdated and missing some feature compatibility. Here’s how to manually update iPhone apps.
  • Check Messenger’s server status. Meta’s servers are as vulnerable to glitches or network issues as anyone’s. See how they’re doing using Downdetector.
  • Restart your iPhone. This probably won’t accomplish anything, but restarting your iPhone may potentially solve caching issues or stuck processes.
  • Reset network settings. This should be a last resort, since your iPhone will forget all of its saved cellular and network connections, forcing you to reconnect manually. If nothing else seems to be working, follow our guide to get started.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp logo on smartphone next to everyday accessories Stock photo 2

Options here will closely echo those for Facebook Messenger.

  • Check your internet connection. A weak cellular or Wi-Fi connection is almost certainly responsible. Try walking to somewhere with better signal, connecting to Wi-Fi if you’re on cellular, or stopping bandwidth-heavy activities on your Wi-Fi network, such as 4K video streaming.
  • Keep photos under filesize limits. When you’re inserting a picture directly into chat the cap is 16MB, so avoid sending RAW or otherwise huge image files this way. Anything over 16MB should be sent as a “document,” since the limit for that method is 2GB.
  • Check that cellular data is enabled for WhatsApp. If you’re on a cellular connection, it could be that you’ve set WhatsApp to avoid consuming mobile data. Go to Settings > WhatsApp and toggle on Cellular Data.
  • Update WhatsApp. We doubt it, but it’s possible that bugs are involved, or that your version of WhatsApp is outdated. Here’s how to manually update iPhone apps.
  • Check WhatsApp’s server status. Meta’s servers could be encountering bugs, network issues, or temporary maintenance. See how they’re doing using Downdetector.
  • Restart your iPhone. Don’t count on it, but restarting your iPhone could solve caching issues or stuck processes.
  • Reset network settings. Once again this should be a last resort, since your iPhone will forget all of its saved cellular and network connections, forcing you to reconnect manually. If nothing else seems to be working though, follow our guide to get started.