Unable to Download Files: Problems and Solutions

Most of us have had an issue at one point or another, downloading a particular file, intermittently. But when it seems (or when you actually can’t) download anything, that’s a whole other level of frustration. But we will go over each item to rule out anything that could be causing the issue. Then we will discuss solutions for broader, system-wide problems with downloads.

We aren’t doing anything so impressive as providing technology that would allow you to download a pizza, but perhaps we can give you access to that picture you need. Or those documents you so desperately need to open. And what fun is your Android if you can’t download apps? But don’t worry, we’ll find a fix to this.

Problem 1: Download of Picture(s) Fails

Are you having trouble downloading a picture that someone sent you via text? Usually, this process should be pretty automatic; involving a mere tap on your part, but if not, then read on.


Turn Mobile Data ON, & Wi-Fi OFF

It’s common to encounter problems with MMS messages and their attachments on a Wi-Fi connection. Switch to Mobile Data by going to Settings and turn off Wi-Fi, and turn on Mobile data through the Data Usage or More options.


Rule Out Reception Issues

Try moving to a different location; one where you are able to see 3-4 bars on your signal indicator.


Turn OFF MMS Auto Retrieve

Open your texting app. In the upper-left corner, tap on the three horizontal lines representing the Menu. Go to Settings > Advanced Settings > and uncheck Auto Retrieve.


Restart Phone

Shut your Android down, then power it back on.


Ensure Picture File Type is Supported

Most Android apps do support the most common photo file types, but not every app nor even every Android comes equipped to handle every file type in existence. See the Android Developers’ site for acceptable image formats. It’s possible that you might be able to find a program or app to help you open a different type of file, but it can take some research. Here’s one example of such an app, though.

Download: Download All Files

Reset APNs to Default

Go to Settings > Wireless and Networks > More > Cellular Networks > Access Point Names, and tap on the three vertical dots in the top right corner. Choose Reset to Default. This path can vary somewhat by the device.

Clean Out Old Messages

They aren’t doing your storage space any good, and if you have no reason to keep them, try deleting some of your old MMS messages. Some texting apps even offer an option called Delete Old Messages.

Download an App

Some apps will assist with downloading and saving pics. You could also find that alternate SMS apps, such as Handcent Next SMS or Hangouts will help you work through issues as well.

Download: Handcent Next SMS

Download: Hangouts

Clear Cache

These instructions are for Marshmallow users, but it’s pretty easy to do regardless of what OS you have. Go to Settings > Apps and select the app giving you trouble (your texting app, perhaps) > Storage > Clear Cache. This single piece of advice might be the most useful when you are unable to download attachments, apps, and pics and the usual tricks don’t work.


Uninstall and Reinstall App

Try first uninstalling, then reinstalling the app giving you issues.


Problem 2: Cannot Download Attachments Via Various Apps

Some have lamented not being able to download media via apps like WhatsApp. Some can’t access documents via email. Whatever the case may be, downloading important attachments should be part of the functionality of having an Android device.


Install Updates

Stay on top of this for both the app in question and your operating system. Updates can fix bugs. To update manually or an individual basis, go to the Play Store and select the Menu icon (three stacked horizontal lines in the left corner).

Go to My apps and games > touch app or press Update All > Accept. If you wish to set up automatic updates, go to Menu, but select Settings > Auto-update apps and choose to update any time or with Wi-Fi only.


Check Your Antivirus/Security Settings

You could also disable your antivirus or security setting temporarily, as long as you are positive the attachment comes from a trusted source. Don’t forget to turn security back on, though.


For Error Message: Before you can download the attachment, you must download the email

Scroll to the bottom of your email and check to see if there’s an option to download the entire email first. If not, scrolling to the bottom may still serve a purpose by automatically loading the rest of your email. Now try to download the attachment again.

Unmount and Remount SD Card

Sometimes apps experience problems writing to the external SD card of your Android. You can check the SD card’s status, and make sure it isn’t set to Read Only, or you can unmount and remount it by going to Settings > Storage > Unmount/Mount SD Card. A useful app that can help you out only if your Android is rooted is FolderMount.

Download: FolderMount

Factory Reset

If you have already tried some of the methods mentioned above in the section about troubleshooting picture downloads, such as: clearing the cache and uninstalling and reinstalling the problem app, you can pull out all the stops and perform a factory reset.

This will wipe your device as though it just came from the factory, so be sure to back anything up that you wish to save. There are different ways to do it, but on most phones, you can go to Settings > Backup & Reset > Factory Data Reset. Read and heed the warning, and then tap Reset Phone. If you utilize screen lock, you’ll be required to authenticate.

Once you’ve entered your PIN pattern, password, or fingerprint, select Erase Everything. When your Android is finished, reboot.


Problem 3: Unable to Download Apps

Apps make the Android world go round. Not to be dramatic, but this sort of problem can’t go on. Unfortunately, there seems to be a bug within Nougat that causes Google Play downloads to stop when roaming.


Try Wi-Fi

If the app size is very large, Google Play may wait for a Wi-Fi connection.


Correct Date and Time

Your Android’s date and time may be out of sync with Google’s servers. Go to Settings > Date & Time > Automatic. Check Automatic date & time and Automatic time zone, or if they are already checked, uncheck them for a reset. You can then set a new date and time, and it doesn’t even matter if it’s the wrong one. Go back to the Home screen. Go back to Date & Time, correct these settings, and re-check Automatic Date & Time and Automatic Time Zone.


Check Storage Space

Go to Settings > Storage and check the Android’s total and available storage space. If you are running low, try uninstalling any apps, videos, pictures, or other media. This is definitely a possibility you are unable to download any attachments, apps, and picks, and why the usual tricks aren’t working.


Clear Cache if You Haven’t, and Ensure All is Well with Your Google Account

In the previous sections we brought up clearing the cache, and that applies to this problem as well. Otherwise, make sure that you have a Google account that is in good standing. If necessary, remove and add it back again.


Problem 4: Unable to Download Anything—Still

We’ve covered some of the specifics; but if none of these have worked, and you absolutely cannot download anything, there still might be hope. If you haven’t yet tried any suggestions above, please do so.


Disable Restricted Background Data

For those using Marshmallow, go to Settings > Data Usage and tap on the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner. Select Restrict Background Data and turn it off.


Seek Assistance from a Download App

OK, so you are having trouble downloading most everything, so it’s possible you won’t have access to these, but if that’s not entirely the case…

Download: GetThemAll Any File Downloader

Download: Download Accelerator Plus

Play with Different Browsers and LTEs

Some have found success by downloading a different browser, such as 4G Speed Browser, and/or setting their phone to 2G. You are going to be downloading files very slowly at 2G, but if you are in an area with poor reception for 4G something might be better than nothing.

Error Message: Could Not Be Downloaded Due to an Error (927)

This error occurs when you try to download an app from Google Play while the program is updating. You most likely just need to wait a few moments while it finishes the update. The usual clear cache advice may also help. You can also try closing and reopen the app, and restart the update.

For Rooted Devices: Fix Permissions

You will need a file manager such as Astro File Manager to help you browse to the Download folder. Long-press the folder until a new screen pops up. Select Permission. Choose the user account and grant permission to read, write, and execute.

Download: ASTRO File Manager

Ensure Download Manager is Enabled

Go to Settings > Apps > Download Manager > Enable.



Are you still unable to download attachments, apps, and pics? Have you encountered any other download problems on Android? Tell us about them. Also, if you have solutions, others could benefit from, post them.

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