WhatsApp is a popular instant messaging service that lets you communicate and share media with other WhatsApp users. While it does well on both of these fronts most of the time, it does pose some problems from time to time.

whatsapp media not downloading
IMAGE: Alexander Shatov (Unsplash)

A common problem among these that may surface quite frequently is the inability to download media (images, videos, documents, audio files, etc.). Often represented with messages like “Download failed” or “Download was unable to complete” in the WhatsApp app, the problem prompts you to either retry downloading media or ask the sender to resend it.

But thankfully, there’s a solution to this problem. And in this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps for the same to help you fix the “WhatsApp media not downloading” issue on your Android or iOS device.

Potential Fixes for the WhatsApp Media Not Downloading Problem

Listed below are all the possible solutions you must follow when WhatsApp isn’t downloading photos, videos, or any other media on your phone.

1. Check Your Internet Connection

Let’s start by checking the internet connection to find out if a bad internet network could be preventing you from downloading WhatsApp photos, videos, or other media on your device.

One way to do this is to try using other apps on your phone or opening a web browser to access some websites. Unfortunately, if these apps work fine, it means the problem isn’t with your internet connection, and so you must move on to the next fix.

But before you do that, you may also want to switch your internet connection to see if that resolves the media not downloading problem. If you’re on a mobile network, try switching it off/on or connecting to a Wi-Fi connection. Alternatively, if you’re on Wi-Fi, try connecting to another Wi-Fi connection or switching to mobile data and attempting the download again.

2. Force Close WhatsApp

Sometimes apps can freeze and start acting up while running in the background. Unfortunately, WhatsApp isn’t immune to this problem either, and it could be causing the app’s download functionality to falter.

If this happens to be the case, the easiest fix is to force close the app. On Android, you can force close an app as shown below:

force close whatsapp on android

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Go to Apps and select WhatsApp from the list.
  3. Tap the Force Stop button.

If you’re on iPhone, follow these steps to force close an iOS app:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom to bring up the app switcher.
  2. Scroll through the apps horizontally to get to WhatsApp.
  3. Swipe up the card for WhatsApp to force close it.

3. Check WhatsApp Storage Permission

If WhatsApp isn’t downloading media on your Android or iPhone, it could also be because it doesn’t have access to your phone’s storage. When this happens, WhatsApp typically displays a message stating that it doesn’t have access to your storage (Android) or Photos (iPhone). Therefore you must grant permission to storage/enable access to Photos to allow it to download media.

Follow the steps below to grant WhatsApp storage permission on Android:

grant media permission to whatsapp on android

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Go to Apps and select WhatsApp from the app list.
  3. Click on Permissions > Files and media and select Allow access to media only.

If you’re on iPhone, you can grant WhatsApp permission to Photos on iOS using the steps below:

grant photos permission to whatsapp on iphone

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Go to Privacy and select Photos.
  3. Click on WhatsApp and select All Photos from the options.

Once you’ve done that, try downloading media on WhatsApp again. In case it still doesn’t fix the media downloading issue on WhatsApp, move on to the next fix.

Related Read: WhatsApp Not Sending or Receiving Messages? Here’s Your Ultimate Fix

4. Check Your Device Storage for Available Space

Insufficient storage space is one of the common causes of various download issues on smartphones. So if WhatsApp isn’t downloading images or media on your device, you must check your device’s storage space to find out if there’s any available free space on your phone or memory card.

If you’re using an Android or iPhone with the base storage—and you have the auto-download option for media enabled on WhatsApp—this can most likely be the cause of your problem.

To confirm this, follow the steps below to check your Android’s available storage space:

check storage on android

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Click on Storage.

Here, you’ll see a breakdown of the occupied storage space and the amount of free space currently available on both internal storage as well as the memory card (if your Android phone supports external storage).

On iPhone, you can check available storage space using the following steps:

check storage on iphone

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select General and click on iPhone Storage.

Wait for the iPhone to calculate and categorize the storage space. Once it loads, you’ll see the storage space breakdown on top.

If your free space is reasonably low, you’re likely facing the issue due to insufficient storage space. And so, you must free up storage before attempting to download the files on WhatsApp again.

Related Read: How to Fix WhatsApp Camera Not Working on Android

5. Clear WhatsApp Cache (Android)

As you use WhatsApp, your Android phone collects WhatsApp cache over time, which it can refer to later, to provide you quick access to the app and some of its other features.

An app’s cache comprises temporary files, so you can delete it without affecting its functionality to reinstate its default state (and free up storage space).

Follow the steps below to clear WhatsApp cache on Android:

clear whatsapp cache on android

  1. Launch Settings and go to Apps.
  2. Select WhatsApp from the app list and click on Storage & cache.
  3. Tap Clear cache.

6. Set the Correct Date and Time

Having an incorrect date and time set on your phone can lead to some of the most common internet problems, and it could also be one of the reasons why WhatsApp isn’t able to download media on your smartphone.

So to fix it, all you need to do is set the correct date and time on your device. If you use an Android, follow these steps to do so:

set date and time on android

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Go into System and tap on Date & time.
  3. Toggle the Set time automatically option.

On iPhone, you can change date and time settings using the following steps:

set date and time on ios

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select General and tap on Date & Time.
  3. Toggle the Set Automatically button to automatically set the date and time.

7. Update WhatsApp

A lot of the time, updating WhatsApp can fix many issues. For example, WhatsApp not being able to download media is one of these problems, and you can attempt to fix it by updating WhatsApp to the latest version.

To update WhatsApp, open the Play Store (Android) or App Store (iOS) and click on the Update button. If WhatsApp is already running the latest version, move on to the next fix.

8. Reset Network Settings

If you have trouble downloading WhatsApp media on a particular network or if the issue disappears or reappears when you switch between mobile data and Wi-Fi, it could likely have to do with some network glitch or connectivity issue on your device.

In this case, you can solve the problem by resetting your device’s network settings. If you’re on Android, you can do it as demonstrated in the following steps:

reset network settings on android

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Click on System and select Reset options from the list.
  3. Tap on Reset Wi-Fi, mobile & Bluetooth.

On the other hand, if you use an iPhone, follow these steps to reset network settings:

reset network settings on ios

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General and select Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  3. Hit Reset and select Reset Network Settings from the context menu.

9. ​​Reset App Preferences (Android)

Although resetting network settings fixes most common internet connectivity issues, there are times when it doesn’t help. In such situations, finding out which other setting is causing the problem can be tricky.

A practical solution in such a situation is to reset all app preferences on your Android device. This resets all preferences for background data restrictions and app permission restrictions, among other things, to default.

Follow these steps to reset app preferences:

reset whatsapp preferences on android

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap on System and select Reset options.
  3. Select Reset app preferences and hit Reset apps to confirm.

Tip: If the fixes listed thus far don’t work, your last resort, if WhatsApp isn’t downloading media still, is to uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp. However, if you’re not willing to go that route immediately—and there’s some important media you want to download before you delete the app—you can take advantage of WhatsApp Web to download them.

For this, first, open WhatsApp Web on your computer in an internet browser. Alternatively, you can open the WhatsApp Web app too. Next, go to your Android or iPhone and open the WhatsApp app. Click on Settings and tap Linked Devices.

Hit the Link a Device button and authenticate yourself. Point your device’s camera to the QR code displayed on WhatsApp Web on your desktop. Once your device scans the code successfully, wait for a few seconds until all your WhatsApp conversations appear on WhatsApp Web or the desktop app.

Finally, open the conversation with the media you want to download. Click on the download icon on the top-right, and it should start downloading the file on your computer.

Once the download finishes, all your downloaded files can be found in your computer’s Downloads folder.

10. Reinstall WhatsApp

As we just mentioned, if none of the fixes on this list fix your issue, you’re left with no other option but to uninstall and reinstall the WhatsApp app on your phone. However, before you delete the app, make sure to take a backup of WhatsApp to save all your important conversations/chat history and media files. You’ll need it to restore your WhatsApp after you reinstall the app.

Restore WhatsApp’s Downloading Functionality

If you followed the fixes listed in this guide carefully, you should’ve been able to fix the media not downloading problem on WhatsApp and restore its downloading functionality. Moving forward, you should now be able to download images, videos, audio files, or documents, as they arrive, just like you did earlier.

However, if the issue still persists and WhatsApp still can’t download media, you must format your device to reset it to factory settings and set it up again. When you do this, make sure to backup your device so that you don’t lose your data.

FAQs on WhatsApp Media Download Issues

WhatsApp is a fantastic communication tool, but it can be a little intrusive. Not only does it automatically download recent photos, but it also downloads all of the images in your gallery. The problem is that this can be a huge drain on your data plan.

Disable WhatsApp's auto-download of images, audio, and videos by going to Settings -> Chat settings -> Media auto-download.

Tap on each option and disable it by unchecking all three boxes - Images, Audio and Video.

Under Media Auto-Download, tap on the following:

  • Wi-Fi only: Pictures will only download when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network
  • When using mobile data: Pictures will download whether you are connected to a Wi-Fi network or not

Tap on OK.

If you want to check the image/audio or video without opening the chat, follow these steps:

  • Turn on Airplane Mode and Read Messages
  • Open WhatsApp and Disable Media Auto-Download
  • Go to the chat containing the media you want to download
  • Press and hold on an image until it zooms in.
  • Tap the Share button in the bottom-left corner of the image.
  • Select Save Image from the list of options that appears.

  • If you're having trouble downloading videos in WhatsApp, it may be due to a weak network connection or low bandwidth. Make sure your network connection is stable and has enough bandwidth to download the videos. If the problem persists when using cellular data, try using a wireless connection.
  • The other reason could be that the WhatsApp Video you are trying to download might be in an incorrect format.
  • The last reason could be the video is blocked by the government or WhatsApp itself if it was reported as unsafe.

First, check the date and time on your phone. If it is incorrect, change it to the current date and time. Second, check how much storage space is available on your SD card. If there is not enough space, delete some files to make room. Finally, if the file saves but still will not open in WhatsApp, try changing the file name extension from .jpg to .jpeg.

There may be multiple reasons why you are not able to download photos or videos from WhatsApp Web. One possibility is that your device settings are not allowing WhatsApp Web to download files. Another reason may be due to media access permissions - make sure that WhatsApp Web has permission to download files from your device. If the problem persists, please contact WhatsApp support for further assistance.

You may be experiencing one of the following problems if you cannot download or update WhatsApp from the Google Play Store:

  • "There's insufficient space on the device"
  • "This app is incompatible with your Android Device"
  • "This item isn't available in your country"
  • Other error codes

Check this article for more details.

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