Mail app on iPhone

The iPhone and iPad's built-in Mail app is a great way to get all your email for all your accounts in one place. But just like any other app, it isn't completely error-proof either. One of the most common errors that you may run into is the dreaded "Connection to the server failed" message. Other common error messages include "server not responding" messages and "password incorrect" errors. If you're plagued with any of these messages, here are some steps that can help you troubleshoot and resolve the problem in no time!

Step 1: Run the latest version of iOS

The first iOS 11.0 version had a bug in it which impacted email accounts hosted by Microsoft on Outlook.com or Office 365, or an Exchange Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016. Attempts to send mail were met with this cheery response: "Cannot Send Mail. The message was rejected by the server." Fortunately, simply updating to iOS 11.0.1 solves the problem.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Software Update and follow the directions on the screen.

    Tap Settings, General, Software Update

Step 2: Force quit Mail and/or restart your device

Either or both of these steps are always worth a try, even if you can never be sure exactly what form of voodoo was employed to solve the problem.

To force quit Mail:

  1. On iPhone X open the app switcher by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and pausing until the app switcher appears. On all other iPhones and on iPad, double-click the home button.
  2. On iPhone X, touch and hold the Mail app, then tap the red delete button. On all other iPhones and the iPad: swipe up on the Mail app so that it leaves the screen.

    Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then press and hold until the Delete button appears

To restart your iPhone or iPad:

  1. On iPhone X, press and hold the on/off button and either volume button until the Slide to Power Off slider appears. On all other iPhones and on iPad, hold down the on/off button until the Slide to Power Off slider appears.
  2. Swipe to power off.
  3. Restart by holding down the on/off button until the Apple logo appears.

    Press and hold the On/Off button and Volume button until the slide-to-power-off logo appears

Step 3: Be sure you have an active internet connection

Rare is the person who turns off the cellular connection on an iPhone, but it does happen. Perhaps you turned on Airplane Mode and forgot to turn it off, or you're creeping toward your monthly data limit and turned off cellular data to make sure you did not blow through the cap.

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Make sure Airplane Mode is off.

  3. Tap Cellular.
  4. Make sure Cellular Data is on.

    Tap Cellular, then tap Cellular Data

After you're sure all cellular systems are go, you might be the victim of weak signal strength. In the status bar, you may see fewer bar or dots than usual, indicating a less-than-full-strength connection. Or, instead of LTE, you might see 4G or (worse) 3G in your iPhone's status bar.

In some cases, an extremely slow cellular connection can cause a mail server to time out, resulting in a dreaded error message. If you can, try turning off cellular data and sending your messages via wi-fi to see if the cellular connection is the issue. Just don't forget to turn cellular data back on once you're back in a location where the signal strength isn't so temperamental.

Step 4: Delete and re-add the problem account

If you're having problems with one of the common email accounts that iOS can configure itself (e.g., iCloud, Google, Yahoo), your best solution may be to delete the account and re-add it. The email provider may have made some changes behind the scenes that aren't reflected for your account. Deleting the account and re-adding it will make the account settings current.

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Accounts and Passwords.

    Ta Settings, then tap Accounts and Passwords

  3. Tap the email account that is having trouble connecting.
  4. Tap Delete Account twice.

    Tap the mail account, then tap Delete account

  5. Tap Add account

  6. Tap the account type you want to add.
  7. Follow the directions on the screen and provide the username and password for your email account.

    Tap Add Account, then tap the account type, then enter the account credentials

Step 5: Manually configure your account

Every once in a while, your iOS device may lose track of an email account password, perhaps after restoring data and settings from a backup. In most cases, you should be prompted to reenter the password for the mail account. With the exception of some optional password fields for mail servers that send mail, recent updates to iOS have removed the ability to enter email passwords and other settings for common email accounts (that is, those in the list of standard accounts, such as iCloud, Google, Yahoo, etc.)

But if you set up an email account using some "Other" service with a custom domain, take a look at the account settings and make sure no password fields are blank. If they are, plug in your password. You'll also need to do this any time you change the password for the account.

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Accounts and Passwords.
  3. Tap the account that has a connection problem.

    Tap Settings, then tap Accounts and passwords, then tapp an email address

  4. Tap the email address for the account.
  5. Enter any missing password.

    Tapp account, then enter the password

Depending on who your email provider is, you'll need to check their website and FAQ for information on configuring POP and IMAP accounts on your iPhone or iPad manually. You can typically perform a Google search containing your email provider's name (such as Comcast) and then the words mail setup iPhone iPad in order to get the results you need. Make note of the names of incoming and outgoing mail servers as well as port numbers, authentication protocols, and whether or not the mail server uses Secure Socket Layers (SSL) in case you need to enter this information.

Step 6: Contact your email provider

If you still can't get your email working properly on your iPhone or iPad, it's time to contact your email provider or system administrator. If the account you're using is provided by a hosting company, contact it directly. If you have an account that was given to you for work, you most likely have a system administrator or IT help desk you can contact.

Your tips for troubleshooting iPhone and iPad mail errors?

If you've encountered any weird errors with the Mail app on your iPhone or iPad, what were they and how did you manage to solve them? Be sure to let me know in the comments!