iPhone bugs: Blank messages in Mail

If you go to check your email in the iPhone's Mail app only to see a blank -- either literally a blank space between messages or a place-holder that says (No Sender) (No Subject) -- you may have this bug. If you do we'll tell you how to work around it, after the break.

I experienced the blank email issue frequently under iOS 4.1, as does Andrew, but I haven't seen it (yet) under iOS 4.2. Ally has seen it over multiple iOS versions. (Ironically Ally captured this screenshot when she got a blank during an email exchange about blanks!) Whenever or wherever you have this problem, the only solution we've found so far is to restart (force quit) the Mail app:

  • Click the Home Button to exit Mail
  • Double click the Home Button to open the Fast App Switcher
  • Hold your finger down on Mail to put it into jiggly mode
  • Tap the X at the top right of Mail to kill the app

Mail will auto-restart so you won't miss any messages, but when you go back in your blank(s) should be gone.

Let us know if you're experiencing this bug and, if so, whether or not this workaround works for you!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Yeah, I get this bug all the time. It's nice to know it's not just me. It would be nice if Apple fixes it in iOS 4.3.
  • If you have multiple e-mail accounts, I've found you'll also get rid of the blanks simply by going to the inbox of another account then going back to the inbox that had the blank. No need to close the mail app. And it only seems to happen with Exchange accounts. That's the only place I've seen it.
  • I've had it happen in my gmail account. Closing the app out seems to clear it up. I don't think I've seen it since 4.2 came out.
  • I've never had this happen.
  • Something like this happens a lot to me in my txt messages ... And sometime it says I have a text when I really don't
  • I've had this bug a few times. I can't recall the iOS versions I've seen it in. Thankfully, I haven't seen it in a while. I hope I didn't just jinx myself.
  • I have never had this problem but my wife has. I have always fixed it by deleting her email account and setting it up again. I will try to end the task next time. It might be helpful to determine if it is specific to email type or account. She is using gmail via exchange.
  • Never seen it. Ip4, 4.0.1
  • I never got that before. Also I just found out I'm eligible for an iPhone update. So imma sell my iPhone 4 in June and get the 5 haha
  • The weird bug I have is where when I play music the album art doesn't show up. Mail is fine for me
  • I had that issue until I realised I had the same Gmail account twice on the iPhone... worth checking you have each account listed only once in Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  • Blanks. They give me iNightmares.
  • I have the bug... but it only happens for a few seconds then they pop up. Doesn't bother me. What does is the still touchy proximity sensor though :/
  • @Ron never worked for me to just go into a different mailbox. it does it on my mobileme account and that isn't exchange
  • Jailbreak bug. Another big they haven't fixed in 3 updates is the "Re:" bug. When I send blank subject and I get a response that says Re: and I send a few messages back and forth with the person. And I get to Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: in the subect line and I delete them all. Then try to retype in the body, the letters freeze. Maybe it's only my phone.
  • I get this bug all the time on iOS 4.2 I mostly see it with my gmail and yahoo mail. not my exchange mail
  • I've never experienced this exact problem, but I have repeatedly experienced it exactly as George said. Same symptoms happen like once a week and often it will say I have an unread message when I don't. The former only seems to be resolved using the same process the article suggests for Mail - ie, killing Messages. The latter gets fixed either by using the same method, or just living with it until I get another text and go in to view it. In this case, when I come out of Messages, it accurately updates the unread messages count.
    I often experience this when I accidentally click view now on an incoming text that popped up while I was doing something else in the right spot of the screen. I really wish Apple would follow Palm's idea about unobtrusive notifications (and multitasking switching) or a least put in a half second delay before it accepts the view now click in case I was already doing something on that section of the screen. Ok, now I'll get off my soapbox.
  • Interesting...I've never had this problem. A different question, how do you get the notifications up in the taskbar!? Is that a jailbreK hack?
  • I've got this bug a couple of times now. I found that the easiest way to get rid of it, it's by selecting the "drafts" folders and then tap on the reload button, it somehow cleans it away. Anyways, that's how it worked for me. I hope it helps.
  • Yep. I've seen this a few times. The date is always 12/31/69, for some reason. I don't think I've seen it on my iPad since updating to 4.2, but it's still shows up occasionally on my iPhone running 4.1. (I'm waiting for the untethered jailbreak to update.) Good to know about the fix, though.
  • I get this bug all the time. You can't delete the blank messages. Restarting the mail app seems to work for me.
  • I recently converted all my gmail imap accounts to gmail exchange. Doing so made the problem disappear completely after seeing it almost daily.
  • I have had this happen to me except it wasn't a blank message, it simply was an unopenable message that showed up as:
    "(No sender)
    (No subject)
    (No content)"
    It was only once that it happened though.
    ive had this bug because of my LockInfo(jailbreak).. go into settings/lockinfo/plugins/mail... scroll to the bottom.the last 4 options should be turned on(tap for preview.. preview in mail app... etc..) restart springboard
  • I've always used mine with Google Apps, over a year ago they updated things to use Exchange ActiveSync. I've not run into the issue described here on either my 3GS or 4...
  • Well, to be honest this does not happen to frequently with me but i have faced this issue one and i don't know how it fixed automatically! may be cuz i restarted ma phone :)
    This happens with me when i was having iPhone 3GS 18 GB but then i sell it and now i have Iphone 4 :)
  • I can confirm this bug on an iTouch running 4.2. The fix does work.
  • I had something like that in Texting but not email but it stoped.
    And I just remembered sometimes my emails look blanke after I read them and go back but then the iPhone re loads them this si not an iOS 4.2.1 bug it is an bug thats is quite old intact.
  • I have experienced this numerous times on my 3G. I use Gmail through exchange and have seen it. I would assume a force quit of mail by holding the sleep/wake button and then the home button when the power sider appears would fix it as well.
  • I have seen this happen 3 times and I am running iOS 4.2.1. So, I know for a fact that it is still present in the iOS 4.2 firmware. It happened in iOS 4.1, but not nearly as frequently as this. Everytime I have to perform a hard reset because an app crashes, the Mail app makes all my messages disappear, all blank and unread with a 12/31/00 date on them. However, usually time fixes this and I dont have to do anything manually
  • Same trouble continues with the newest iOS 4.3.2. It is really amazing that Apple can not resolve this annoying problem.
  • I forget to mention, that the same trouble is also in the iPad 1 after the new iOS 4.3.2.
  • I followed your instuctions but I am still receiving emails with no content on my Iphone. Of course some of my emails do have content. It's very puzzeling and aggravating. I can then go to my computer where all my email have content, including the ones that have no content on the iphone. I have aol email addresses which I receive in Outlook 10 with no problems. My apple is a 3Gs which has been upgraded to 4.3.5 version (8L1)
  • Doesn't work for me on my iPhone or iPad
    Using gmail exchange.
    My emails show up as 1/1/01
    Can't access anything.
  • Awesome, thanks. Just had this bug appear in my yahoo mail on my iPhone. I'm using iOS5. Googled it, and here you are with just the answer I needed. x
  • I experience the same issue on my iPad with iOS 5.0.1: inbox shows tens of (No sender) (No subject) messages "This message has no content", with weird sending dates (11/11/11 or 01/01/70...).
    Sometimes the emails come with an attached file, sometimes not.
    Even weirder: those messages seem to appear, disappear and then come-back...
    No way I can open nor suppress those emails. It's driving me crazy!
    Anyone experiencing the same? Do you know of a fix?
    Could it be an app generating those void emails?
  • same here except ALL my messages have blank headers. can't open any of them. the same goes for my gmail and exchange a/c. nothing was changed before it was working for over a year. restarting or soft reset didn't help. what's going on!?
  • ok I got it fixed, at least for now. kill the mail app and then do a soft reset.
  • Thank you! I have a brand new iPhone 4 with iOS 5. I got more of these every day with no time to consult someone or take it back to the store. After getting clogged with 189 messages I had to do something. Your fix worked perfectly. The only difference -- there was no "X" at the top right of the Mail icon. So I tapped the "-" on the top left and held my breath. When I opened mail again they were all gone! Here's hoping they don't return.
  • Dear Sir,
    your menthod works like butter .. thank you very much
  • I unfortunately get this problem all the time, on iOS 5.1.1. Searching for a fix is actually how I found this post. Thanks for the tip, it worked! Too bad this is still a problem almost two years after this post was written!
  • Thank you for the advice, Rene. I tried it and the problem was fixed in seconds!
  • I usually fix this by resetting my Network Settings. Settings ->General->Reset->Rest Network Settings. Sometime I have to do it twice before I can see my emails again.