I'm on iOS 9.2 on an iPad air 2.

I understand that since iOS 7 mail should open (for viewing) zip files directly.

What I actually get is just perpetual Loading... and spinning wheel. If I copy to WinZip I can open the file fine.

Is this expected behaviour?

....... Further (!) Edited to add the following in response to bmike's comment and add context ......

5 small to moderate PDF files of business documents, total zipped size 364KB. Zipped using WinZip 18.5 on desktop Win7. Zip file was attached to an email.

Outlook 2013 opens the zip file on double-clicking (showing the zip file index). Interestingly, Yahoo Mail shows the zip file as "No Preview" (download is Ok).

On iPad, both the 5 documents, and also a test single document, produce a perpetual spinning wheel when the zip file icon is tapped for native view. Using 'copy to' (touch and hold the icon) with PDF EXpert or to WinZip mobile, either file can be opened successfully.

I will look for a different zip program on the desktop to see if that makes a difference.


What has me quite puzzled is that Google has turned nothing on this topic, trying various searches. Which suggests this is a somewhat unique situation. (Or no one is using Mail App for serious emails ...)

But to me this is a very straightforward situation. And given the facts in the question, the finger does seem to point at Mail.app.

  • What is in the specific zip file?
    – bmike
    Apr 23, 2016 at 15:29
  • Nice edit. Feel free to use the <contact us> link to merge the accounts if that helps you. Do you think it's a timing issue where Mail doesn't download the whole attachment until after you click it - or more a bug in the code?
    – bmike
    Apr 23, 2016 at 18:35
  • Similar behaviour: two smallish pdfs that can be viewed OK if emailed uncompressed from Outlook 2010 on Windows 7 PC to iPhone with OS 9.3.5; compressed into a zip on PC by right-click > Send To > Compressed (zipped) Folder then emailed, Mail attempts to open the attachment but never progresses past 'Loading…' spinner. Does look like Mail's handling of straightforward zip files is flaky.
    – nekomatic
    Sep 9, 2016 at 10:49

3 Answers 3


After my test (ipad air 2 with 9.3.2) i see that MAIL opens only zip files produced with a MAC OS X. With MAIL we can't open zip files produced on other operating system /app (for example windows or 7zip on windows, etc) So their info ("Supporto allegati email/Tipi di documenti visualizzabili" on https://support.apple.com/kb/SP708?viewlocale=it_IT&locale=it_IT) are not true (or are partially true)

  • You might be on to something - just because something has .zip at the end doesn't necessarily capture all the various encryption and compression algorithms that could be encoded in the file format. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zip_(file_format)
    – bmike
    Sep 9, 2016 at 10:16
  • @bmike Someone could compare the header of a OS X zipped file with a zip file with the same documents made on WinZip at the byte level. Theoretically they should be the same, but I suspect you're right and they are not actually identical.
    – Kisa Ayano
    Sep 9, 2016 at 12:45

I'm not able to reproduce the error as follows on iOS 9.3.1 and an iPad Air 2:

  • print this page from Safari and save as PDF
  • print another page as above

Compress both on OS X using finder and mail them to myself.

I even added a screen image (PNG file) to test a mixed zip archive - and all attachments render properly on iOS after a one time "tap to download" the attachment in Mail.

It could be a temporary issue like space on the device, download error or slow mail server. If you can rule that out, then it might be an encoding error that needs to be reported to Apple and patched. Hopefully it's something you can sort out faster than a bug might take.

  • Another iPad user was also not able to view the zip file (actually thats how I first became aware of the issue). As I said, I got the same results with a very small 1 item test file. I note that you compressed on OS X, I used WinZip on Win 7 desk top.
    – RFlack
    Apr 23, 2016 at 20:40
  • @RFlack I wonder if you can run a tool like zip info -v to determine the compression used and minimum version required to extract your zip files that iOS isn't happy to work with. It could be a simple as picking a different compression level.
    – bmike
    Sep 9, 2016 at 10:22

I have been facing the same problem on iPad air 2 running IOS 10 and updated to 10.3. In both versions of IOS zip would not open in Mail. When I click on the zip file it would open a blank zip with the message zip archive and the size. I figured out that the file has archived file has then got to to be sent to Documents or WPSOffice app to open it. While it is one step more to be done, it opens fine in the other apps. So looks like zip files created by non IOS systems cannot be directly opened in Mail and have to be exported to another app to open them.

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