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Pictures won't download from Gmail on Android? Here's how you can try to fix it

The trouble is almost certainly temporary.
By
November 29, 2023

One of the major uses of Gmail is sharing pictures with family and friends, so it’s obviously frustrating when saving photos fails — perhaps even more so with Android, Google’s own operating system, where Gmail is baked in and you’d think it would be firing on all cylinders. If you’re unable to download Gmail pictures on your Android phone, here are some troubleshooting steps you can try.

How to fix pictures not downloading from Gmail on Android

Gmail on smartphone stock photo 7
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

There isn’t a broad, overarching solution here, but chances are one of the steps below will solve your problems. If no one answer stands out, try running through them in order — we’ve saved the more time-consuming options for last.

  • Check your internet connection. Sometimes your Wi-Fi  or (more likely) cellular signal may drop off in the middle of browsing emails. When that happens, downloads are going to time out, and there’s not much you can do except try again when signal improves. If it’s possible, try moving closer to your Wi-Fi router or walking to an area with better cellular reception.
  • Update the Gmail app. If there’s a newer version of Gmail available, this may potentially fix any software bugs, and you’ll be restarting the app in the process. Here’s how to update Android apps using the Google Play Store.
  • Close Gmail and restart it. Assuming there’s no app update available, it’s still worth force-quitting Gmail and relaunching it. This can potentially clear up any cache- or process-related issues.
  • Manually clear out Gmail’s app cache. Unlike the iPhone, Android offers a way to manually scrub an app’s cache, which is important given that bad caching can prevent functions from triggering properly. On most Android devices you can do this by navigating to Settings > Storage > Other apps > Gmail and tapping on Clear cache.
  • Make sure Google Play Services is up-to-date, and/or clear out its cache. As Google puts it, this Android component connects apps to various Google services. You should be able to update it like any other Android app using the Google Play Store (see the related link above). If there’s no update available, try wiping its cache by going to Settings > Apps > See all apps > Google Play Services > Storage > Clear Cache > Manage Space. Finally, tap on Clear all Data.
  • Restart your device. If nothing’s helped so far, it can’t hurt to reboot your phone or tablet. Typically this won’t accomplish anything more than restarting Gmail will, but it could go a step further if there are any cache- or process-related problems with Android itself.
  • Free up local storage. You’ll probably be notified if space is critical, but either way, try deleting unnecessary files. That might include screenshots and/or duplicates in Google Photos, cached music and video from streaming services (such as Spotify, YouTube, or Netflix), or miscellaneous larger items in the Files app. You might want to comb through Google Drive while you’re at it, in case any files are being synced locally.
  • Sign out of your Google account in Gmail, then back in. If there any account-related glitches, signing out of Gmail and then re-adding your account could be the fix you need. We’re saving this for late in the list because when you sign back in, the app is going to have to re-sync — and that could take a while if you’ve got thousands of emails, never mind any loaded with high-resolution photos.
  • Update Android. If you haven’t updated Android lately, this could quash any deep-seated bugs interfering with Gmail, say if they’re impacting sync functions. Before you begin make sure your device is backed up, and that it’s both well-charged and going to be within Wi-Fi range for the next 30 minutes or so. Realistically, you should only update Android when you know you won’t need your device for a while.