How to Share Files, Photos & Links via Gmail on iOS

gmail default for ipad

One of the more popular posts on my blog of late was a post I wrote about how to make Gmail the default mail app on the iPad. It worked great, but it was a workaround and you couldn’t help but feel that there must be a better way. Well, today there is, because Google updated the Gmail app to make it do (almost) everything that you need it to do in order to use Gmail as your default mail app on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Here’s what you need to know.

First, you need to make sure that both your iPad and the Gmail app is up to date. This only works if your iPad in on iOS 8 (or later) and version 4.0 of the Gmail app (or later versions). You can check your iPad software version by going to Settings > General > About and looking for the Version number. For Gmail, navigate your way to the App Store, and tap Updates to see if an update is available. Once you have that under control, we can begin…

1. Open the app that you would like to have Gmail available as your default mail client to share links, files or other information. Examples of apps might include Safari, Chrome, Photos, Flipboard, etc.

2. Tap the Share icon and swipe to the right-hand side of the top row of sharing apps until you see the More option, as in the image below:

share more icon ipad

3. Tap More, and scroll down through the list of apps until you find Gmail.

4. Tap the toggle switch next to the Gmail app to turn it green and activate Gmail as a sharing option on your iOS device.

5. The three horizontal lines to the right of the toggle switch will let you drag the Gmail app further up the list so that it is more readily accessible when you need it to share. Once you have it where you want it, tap Done.

activate gmail sharing ipad

That’s all there is to it. The next time you find a website you want to share, a photo you need to email, or a file you want to attach to a Gmail message, simply go to the share menu in the app you are working in, and tap Gmail to open a new email.

So, no more workarounds, no more headaches, and no more wishing for things to be different, because Google has made the changes that lots of people wanted to see and updated their app so that you truly can use it as the default email app on your iOS device.

22 thoughts on “How to Share Files, Photos & Links via Gmail on iOS”

  1. When I have tried to share via Gmail either a link from the Google Search app’s browser or from Dropbox, there was no content in the email. No link, no images. Blank. The same process shared via Apple Mail app works as expected. Any idea why?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am seeing the same thing. Not sure why. I don’t know if that is Google’s problem or Apple’s, but you can get around it by copying the link, then selecting Gmail, and pasting the link into the body of the email.


  2. HI, Jonathan. Thanks very much for the instructions. But there’s one wrinkle I haven’t solved: How to set the default “From” account when sharing photos using Gmail. I have 2 Gmail accounts set up on the iPad, and when I share a photo, it always chooses the same one for the “From:” field, regardless of which account Gmail is currently logged into. I want to change that default to the other one, and haven’t found a way to do it. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


    1. To set your default email account, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and look for the option for Default Account. It is in the Mail section, under the signature option. Here you can choose which of the Gmail accounts you want to have as your default mail account. Hope that helps.


  3. Thanks Jonathan, this problem has been driving me nuts for several years: images stuck in the iCloud outbox. Your instructions are concise and life-saving.


  4. The share I sent from Zillow after following your great directions, does not show up in my sent items. Does this mean it didn’t work?

    Also, there is nothing under the signature section on my mail settings except “sent from my iPad” – no where that I can see to set default. my device is iPad 2


    1. If you are using the Gmail app, and it does not show up in your Sent folder, then I would venture to say that this particular email did not send for some reason or another. Should it send? Yes.

      As for your signature, Sent from my iPad is what will append to an email sent from the Mail app unless you change it. However, if you use the Gmail app, you need to go in to the settings of the Gmail app to change your signature.


  5. Great tip, love it.
    My question is there a way to reduce the file size of the picture sent when you share it via gmail (simliar to the way you can when you share using Apple Mail?



  6. I am glad I found this site. Hopefully you can help with an issue I am having. When I try to share photos in the way you describe above, I cannot access my contacts after the gmail compose email comes up. I am using an iPod Touch that is updated to iOS 9.1. I CAN access my device contacts through the Gmail App, but when I go to use the share feature from within the Camera Roll, the ‘+’ Sign for contacts is greyed out. Any idea what is going on here?. I know the Gmail App has access to my contacts and photos based on my settings, so I don’t know why it would not have access to my device settings, but this basically makes the share feature useless.


    1. I’m not sure on this one Peyton. Sounds like an issue with the Gmail app. Are you sure it is up to date? I know this is not much consolation, but it works on my iPad Air 2. Will it auto-complete contacts if you start to type the first few letters of the email address?

      The only other thing I could suggest would be to share photos from the Gmail app. Start your email in the Gmail app, not Photos, and then tap the attachments icon to add your photos that way. See if that works…


      1. This is also an issue for me on my iPhone 6s Plus. My + is greyed out and contacts do not autocomplete when I start to type. This occurs in all apps when I try to share. The other apps (iMessage, mail, etc.) have no issues with contacts when using share. If I go to the gmail app directly, I have no issues with contacts. All apps and the iOS is up to date.


      2. I have tried to replicate this issue, but unfortunately I cannot do so. The Plus sign on my app works fine when activated via the sharing menu. My only suggestion would be to delete the app and re-install it to see if that remedies the situation. This will not delete any of your mail, just the app itself. It could be a bug specific to the iPhone 6s, but if it is, it is not one I have heard before.


    1. I have tried to replicate this issue, but unfortunately I cannot do so. The Plus sign on my app works fine when activated via the sharing menu. My only suggestion would be to delete the app and re-install it to see if that remedies the situation. This will not delete any of your mail, just the app itself. It could be a bug specific to the iPhone 6s, but if it is, it is not one I have heard before.


  7. Not an iPad user geek, a friend gave it to me. I tried following the instructions at the first. It seems all instructions that I find do not look like what im seeing! My iOS is up to date and so is my gmail app. I don’t see a share icon in my photos! I’m on an ipad2. I used to be able to press the photo in email and a window appeared for copy option or save image. What happened to it?


    1. To access the Share icon in the Photos app, tap Select in the top right-hand corner, then tap on the photo(s) you want to share, and you will see the Share icon in the top left-hand corner.

      You can do the same in the Gmail app by composing a new email, then tapping the paperclip and selecting Attach a Photo.

      Hopefully this works for you.


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