The iPad's default email app comes with the ability to preview many common file types, including MP3. This means a track sent to your email inbox can be played without using a separate app. Other email apps, like Gmail, also support MP3 previews. However, the file is not permanently saved to your iPad and cannot be opened elsewhere without the aid of some third-party software.
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Open an MP3
The iPad's default Mail app is launched from the home screen and supports Apple's own "icloud.com" email addresses as well as accounts from Microsoft Exchange, Hotmail, Gmail and others. Emails sent to an account associated with Mail that have an MP3 attached will show a thumbnail below the main message text -- the file itself isn't downloaded until you tap on this thumbnail. Transferring the MP3 to the iPad can take some time, especially on a data rather than a Wi-Fi connection. Once the download is complete tap the thumbnail again to open the MP3.
By default when you tap on a downloaded MP3 attachment in the Mail app it opens in a Quick Look preview window. This preview screen displays a basic set of playback controls, enabling you to play and pause the track, return to the beginning, adjust the volume of the playback and jump to any point in the file (using the scrubbing bar at the top). Track metadata, such as the artist and album name, and the track artwork, is not displayed. Tap the "Done" button to return to the main Mail interface.
Opening an MP3 in the Mail app only saves it to the iPad temporarily. The device does not have an overarching file system in the same way that a computer does. If you want to import the MP3 into the iPad's Music app to incorporate it into your playlists, then it must be saved to your computer, imported into iTunes and then synced to the iPad. Some third-party apps, including a number of media players, are able to open MP3s from Mail but again the file is only accessible to that individual app. The MP3 cannot be saved for any app to open.
Tap and hold on a downloaded MP3 attachment in the Mail app to see other options for opening the file. The available choices here depend on which apps you have installed -- file syncing tool Dropbox and media player OPlayerHD Lite are two examples of apps that will appear here if installed, alongside the Quick Look preview option. Choose the "Mail" option from the pop-up window to foward the attachment on in a separate email message.
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