It will also help me if you can write e-mail clients without this feature, so I don't need to try them myself

People keep sending me e-mails with pictures embedded in the text. While this is nice in principle, the problem is that those pictures have some mbyte in size each and together they eat up my cellular data volume.

Unfortunally, you can't tell iOS Mail not to load e-mails above a certain size (or to download those pictures automatically). You can switch off downloading images from remote servers (I did that), but that doesn't work for pictures embedded into the e-mail. Also, attachments of a certain size are not automatically downloaded, but somehow pictures are not considered to be attachments.

MacOS Mail has the possibility to set a limit for POP accounts, above which a confimation is needed before download. Why on earth not on iOS.

I also tried spark as an e-mail client, but I don't find that option either. And I don't find it in the description of any e-mail app.

Is there an alternative e-mail client to support this feature?

  • I use Spark for iOS and you can tell it not to load remote images. That works for all pictures embedded in emails that I receive. I don't know what issues you're facing but this works fine for me. If you can show an image of your Spark Settings -> Security -> Load Remote Images and also an image of it not blocking an image, perhaps we can help troubleshoot the issue.
    – fsb
    May 2, 2019 at 14:28
  • @fsb Probably you just receive html e-mails with embedded images from external servers, typically newsletters. No need to make screenshots, you can reproduce the problem yourself: Please try to send yourself an e-mail and insert (not attach) an image. You'll see that Spark always loads the whole e-mail including the picture.
    – Philippos
    May 3, 2019 at 8:19
  • I stand corrected. You are right. I've never seen this before, probably because I rarely get email like that. I don't have an answer for you but you did educate me, thanks.
    – fsb
    May 3, 2019 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


I think you can't stop the whole email downloading.

This is because an email is a stream of text the format is defined in this RFC. The programs that transmit and receive the email do not look at what the data is in the body of the email and so have to send all or nothing.

The files downloaded from other servers are represented in the email body as just text containing the name of the external file (a URL).

The mail client (the app on your iPhone) is the only software that looks at the body and it recognises certain plain text that the text after it is an encoded image.

Apple's mail clients including mail on the iPhone allows the sender to decide if large attachments are not put directly in the email body but held in iCloud as a external file so take up the small space as other external linkss.. Apple email attachment document.

There is a reason to use text only email :)

  • This is not true. Mail on MacOS can be set to confirm downloading e-mails above a given size, so it's possible. To my knowledge IMAP as well as POP can retrieve the list of all messages along with their size, title, time stamp and read state, then with a different command download a given actual message. The strange thing: You can set a limit in your Mac, although you almost always have unlimited high bandwidth internet, but not in your phone, where you typically have a given data volume and in my case also poor bandwidth in the hills.
    – Philippos
    May 15, 2019 at 4:13
  • @Philippos How do you set Mail on MacOS to confirm downloading e-mails above a given size? Second point you have described what I said it downloads the whole email or nothing - not just download the text of the email.
    – mmmmmm
    May 15, 2019 at 14:38
  • 1) On preferences, accounts, account information, it's the bottommost setting for POP accounts. 2) Perhaps you misunderstood me: I never wrote I need to download the text of the e-mail. I don't care. As written, it's just about the size. An e-mail of 5 MB plain text would be equally bad, but that's unlikely to happen, so I don't need a solution for that. (-;
    – Philippos
    May 15, 2019 at 16:27
  • Yes I misunderstood. If you use a mail service provider that allows processing on the server then you could write rules to move all large mails to another mailbox so could see from apple mail. ALso I think with IMAP the mail is only downloaded
    – mmmmmm
    May 15, 2019 at 18:48

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