Website Support

Apple Mail Issues On iPhones and iPads for all DCRP Email From the Website

Published on:  1/29/2023

Summary: Please Note: As of August 8, 2023, this issue has been solved. Apple has shown no interest in fixing their bug (it still persists in their latest updates) and we got tired of waiting. So, to serve our constituents, we built a special e-mail transport stream that bypasses the bug. The bug in Apple Mail still exists but our newly implemented fix bypasses it entirely. Apple Mail users DO NOT have to do anything to benefit. Your DCRP mail viewed on Apple Mail will, going forward, can be viewed normally.

This bug report will remain for historical purposes.

There is a known issue with displaying any mail from the web server on iPhones and iPads (iOS devices). The problem has been isolated to a known bug within the Apple Mail e-mail reader application. Apple currently does not have a fix for this problem.

The problem can be recreated in the lab and is repeatable. Unfortunately, the problem will persist until Apple fixes the bug in its software. The problem isn’t with us, end-users' e-mail providers or the iPhone/iPad device itself. It is uniquely and specifically in the Apple Mail e-mail reader app (software.)

Apple currently doesn’t have a fix for this problem either locally in its Genius Bar in its stores or nationally through Apple Support. They don’t know when the bug will be fixed. After discussions with Apple, I don't expect a fix to the forthcoming in the near future.

Fortunately, there is a simple workaround that can be used until Apple fixes its bug. Simply download the "Outlook for iPhone" e-mail reader application in the Apple App Store (or any of the other e-mail reader apps) until such time as Apple patches the issue. The Outlook application does not exhibit the problem. It is free and doesn't require any changes to your mail server or mail provider. It takes less than two minutes to download, install and configure. When Apple fixes its bug, you can return to using the Apple Mail app.

Full Support Posting:

Please Note: As of August 8, 2023, this issue has been solved. Apple has shown no interest in fixing their bug (it still persists in their latest updates) and we got tired of waiting. So, to serve our constituents, we built a special e-mail transport stream that bypasses the bug. The bug in Apple Mail still exists but our newly implemented fix bypasses it entirely. Apple Mail users DO NOT have to do anything to benefit. Your DCRP mail viewed on Apple Mail will, going forward, can be viewed normally.

This bug report will remain for historical purposes.

We have reports that e-mail sent from our content management system (CMS) cannot be read by people using iPhone and iPad devices when using the standard Apple Mail e-mail reader application.

The problem is not experienced on Android phones or tablets, only on Apple products that use the Apple Mail e-mail reader application.

The report of this problem on Apple devices was first reported on November 14th. At the time, the reporting user attributed it to a recent Apple update. Prior to that update, everything worked fine.  Initially, the problem impacted only three users before Christmas. The problem appears to now be growing, perhaps as more people install the buggy update from Apple as Apple pushes the update on a wider basis (known to happen.)  The number of reports of this issue has been growing.

To look into the problem, we set up a testing lab using two iPhones of different models and vintages as well as the current version of the iPad. We can recreate the problem when the devices use the Apple Mail application. However, the problem is NOT manifested when using another e-mail reader application such as Outlook for iPhone.

We have definitely isolated the problem to be exclusively in Apple Mail on iPhones and iPads. We don’t have a Mac to test the problem, so we cannot confirm if the problem extends to Mac devices. The problem is NOT affected by the power mode of the device or its fetch. It acts like a "connector" issue between Apple Mail and the recipient's e-mail post office box on their server. Yes, that is conjecture on my part.

We have taken our three test Apple test devices to local Apple employees via their retail “Genius Bar” organization to eliminate any questions about device settings causing the problem. The Dallas Apple folks have determined that there isn’t any configuration issue involved and all of their usual “fixes” don’t work to resolve this problem. It will have to be addressed through Apple in Cupertino (HQ). This a long process and they could elect to NOT FIX IT if they feel that it is a very localized problem (like to us or a few other documented cases.)

Unfortunately, Apple hasn't been very responsive in fixing these types of issues in the past. Reports of similar issues recorded in the Apple Discussion Forums going back to 2019 are still open.

The problem is within the e-mail reader application which is called Apple Mail and, as a reader, fetches e-mail messages from e-mail servers and allows certain “client-type” functions to be performed. Apple Mail works with a number of e-mail servers and providers. BTW, fetching and displaying your mail is the only thing a reader does. While critical because it is the last step in the chain of tasks that have to be performed, e-mailer readers don’t do any of the “magic” that is e-mail.

Easy Work-Around Until Apple Fixes the Bug

If you are experiencing this problem, using another e-mail reader application in place of Apple Mail is the only known fix.

The simple workaround is to use Outlook for iPhone in place of Apple Mail. It is a better and far more robust reader and is available for FREE in Apple’s App Store. On all three test devices, It took less than two minutes to download, install and configure Outlook on the Apple Devices. Outlook can co-exist with Apple Mail and does not interfere in any way.

If Apple is delayed with its fix, you should seriously consider using another e-mail reader application.

Also, there are at least of dozen other e-mail readers that can also be used.

Until Apple releases updates to fix this problem, we currently have no other fix for the problem when using the Apple Mail e-mail reader application.

In both our in-person and online systems training, here is how we teach about the issue.

The narration for the slide shown above:

Do not assume that e-mail is always just e-mail. Don't assume that it will work always correctly out of the box, even if it comes from major brands.

First, we have the most problems with the free consumer e-mail services. The fee-based commercial enterprise products are much better and give far fewer problems.

Also, even the use of major brand names won’t necessarily mean they work better or even correctly.

The two screenshots shown here are the results of the same e-mail message sent by us to the same GOP member using her one e-mail provider and viewed on her one device. The only difference is the product used to read the e-mail on the device.

The image on the left shows the results of using Apple’s popular Apple Mail e-mail reader. This is the default e-mail reader on all iPhones. Note that it won’t display the message. The image on the right keeps everything the same but uses the optional Microsoft Outlook for iPhone as the e-mail reader.

There are no SPAM blocks, personal mail protection issues, or other security issues in play. On our side, my system is functioning totally correctly and employs all proper authentication protocols. There is no disclosed reason or visibility into why this happens.  Also, it is not a formatting issue. The same problem occurs with simple plain text messages. This is the exact same phone used to make these screenshots just minutes apart.

This is an actual current support case that we’re discussing with Apple. We, or they, don’t know why this is happening and there is no known fix for the problem. It is an open case and we are all still looking into this.

By the way, the Outlook product shown is free and can be installed from Apple's App Store. Downloading and setting up took less than a minute. Outlook peacefully co-exists with Apple Mail so you don't have to dee-install it to use Outlook. Both can be used on your phone at the same time.

Be careful of the services and products you use; mileage may vary as the common saying goes.

The Cause Of This Problem (very interesting)

The cause: APPLE IS PICKING ON US! … literally. Yes, this is tongue-in-cheek, but only to a point. Our message is being blocked at the local level (in your device) by Apple's software to the extent that it cannot be read.

The blockage is not total but it is enough to cause Apple Mail to not be able to display the content of the message. The message "envelope" will be received and shown in Apple Mail's inbox. However, when you try to display the message an error is shown that says "This message cannot be displayed because a problem occurred." No other information is provided.

Apple Mail has a bug that is only affecting e-mail from the DCRP web server!!! This is confirmed (details below) and is repeatable. Indeed, other conservatives could be impacted but I can’t speak to that (merely suspicious.)

Our webmaster tested with another company that uses the identical CMS technical web platform as the DCRP. The two code bases are identical. In this series of tests, I send two messages (one as simple plain text and one formatted as HTML including pictures and typography) using the two different systems. The test messages were identical but came from two different Internet domains; one from a third-party commercial website and one from the DCRP website. The messages were sent within seconds of each other to the same user using the user's standard e-mail provider as the destination mailbox. When the message was sent from a third-party commercial company, the e-mail will be received in Apple Mail and displayed properly. However, when the mail was sent from the DCRP, the e-mail was received but can’t be displayed (the error message shows in the place of our content.) This happens regardless of how the message was formatted, simple plain text or in HTML format with images, typography and media. This happens regardless of the recipient's e-mail provider.

The test results are repeatable.

The problem appears to be independent of the recipient's e-mail service. It can occur on Exchange Server mailboxes, Gmail mailboxes, Yahoo Mail mailboxes and generic SMTP mailboxes.  Likely, the problem occurs on all other non-tested services as well.

The only difference in the outcome is the domain that originates the mail. Messages from a commercial company are transmitted properly and can be displayed. Messages from the DCRP are blocked and shown only as errors.

In open source, there are reports of the exact same message occurring in a few other domains. The problem is not widespread but it does occur. Apple hasn't been forthcoming about its internal cause.

These tests were shown to Apple's Genius Bar personnel and they could not explain the results.

In both cases, each CMS was properly configured in all respects and each originating e-mail server employed correct and tested SPF, DMARC and DKIM protocols.

We continue to look deeper into this problem and await any word that might come from Apple.

I don’t want to sound paranoid but it is certainly funny that Apple is blocking displaying e-mails from Republicans, DEFINITELY us. I’m eyeing making my tinfoil hat, just not ready to put it on just yet … but close.