How to Play a Long Audio File from an Email on Your iPhone

by Barrett

If your audio file abruptly stops playing when your iPhone or iPad goes black, it might be time to find a home for that file. Let me explain…

Sending large attachments through email isn’t such a big deal these days. Sure, there are still limits, but emailing a 20MB audio file isn’t a crazy idea. So, when you receive one, the intuitive response is to simply tap on the file icon and listen. And that often works just fine.
(Thank you, Apple.)

But eventually, there’s a problem with the tap-and-listen approach using Apple’s native Mail app…

If the audio file runs longer than the auto-lock setting when your iPhone goes black… the file will suddenly stop playing.

And then, when you wake your iPhone to keep the file going, the file doesn’t remember where it left off. So you’ve got to manually scrub through to get to the right place to keep going.

How elegant is that?

Mrs. At Home with Tech
Someone I know (let’s just call her ‘Mrs. At Home with Tech’) created a clever workaround by simply setting her iPhone’s screen to never turn off.

And while that did the trick, and her audio file played through without a hitch, ‘Mr. At Home with Tech’ thought there had to be a better solution…

Beating ‘Tap and Go’
Of course, ‘better’ is usually a relative term. If you’re clocking speed to solution, I’ve not found a better method than my wife’s tap-and-go approach. But that trick also requires that you remember to turn off your iPhone’s screen when the audio file finishes.

Otherwise, it will shine bright throughout the night, possibly *freaking out your partner when he/she wakes the next morning bathed in an eerie iPhone glow.
*Entirely theoretical scenario… This did not happen to me. Well…

I expect that an AI-driven iPhone future isn’t that far off when your device independently pops on and off to perform certain tasks it deems appropriate. And humans will eventually get used to that just the same as all the 24/7 buzzing and pinging from our chattering smartphones.

For now though, I prefer that all the iPhones in my home at least have the appearance of following human preferences and offer the semblance of sleeping along with their human overlords/companions/pets (just future-proofing this sentence).

Save It!
For uninterrupted access and continuous playback, a more effective first step is to save the file before playing it. That way, it will continue running, even when your iPhone’s screen goes dark.

But there’s still a hiccup here… I’ve not found a way to simply save the file to my iPhone or easily move it into the iTunes ecosystem.

The solution is to move the file to a third-party app. That will do the trick!

Dropbox to the Rescue
There are many apps that can handle this need, but I’m a big fan of Dropbox.
So, here’s how you do it with Dropbox…

Tap on the audio file’s icon.
A QuickTime player window will open to begin playing the file.
On the bottom left, tap on the share icon (little square with an upward arrow).
Find your Dropbox icon.
Click on “Copy to Dropbox.”
The Dropbox app will open up.
Then, save your file to the Drobox folder of your choice.

That’s it.

5 Taps is better than 1
It takes 4 taps… maybe 5, if you move the file into a particular Dropbox folder.

That math can’t beat my wife’s ‘tap-and-go’ approach, but now that the audio file actually lives somewhere outside your Mail app, you’ll have more control of the file and be able to listen to it regardless of your iPhone’s screen status.

Still, not a perfect solution, but it gets the job done.
(If you have a better idea, please let me know!)