When your iPhone prompts you with, “cannot verify server identity” error, it’s telling you that the mail server’s certificate is fake. In short, this error occurs due to your iPhone’s strict verification of your mail server certificates. It’s one of the most common errors encountered in iOS devices when using the Mail app. Read on to learn what causes this error on your iPhone and how to fix it.
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What triggers the “cannot verify server identity” error to occur on your iPhone?
To connect to a mail server securely, your iPhone will try to fetch the server’s SSL certificate and then check if it is reliable. If it finds that the certificate doesn’t match the domain name, expired or not signed the company, it will be marked as unreliable. And this is when the “Cannot Verify Server Identity” error pops up. This error usually occurs when a new email account is set up on your iOS device or after changing the mail server certificate. The same thing can happen after migrating an email account.
Generally, the error is attributed to the untrusted or invalid email server settings. There are also some instances when iOS bugs are to blame. To give you some clues, I’ve mapped out some of the most recommended troubleshooting methods and possible solutions in this post. Feel free to refer to this walkthrough whenever you need help getting rid of the “cannot verify server identity” on your iPhone.
Before troubleshooting, check and ensure that the date and time information on your iPhone are correct. If necessary, set the date and time to automatic. If everything is good with the date and time, then you may proceed and try these subsequent solutions.
First solution: Quit and restart the Mail app.
This could also occur among other random in-app errors with the Mail app. And oftentimes, errors like these are rectified by restarting the app. If you’ve recently opened the Mail app on your device, then quit it first so you can restart it.
If you are using earlier iPhones with a physical Home button, quitting background apps is carried out using these steps:
- Go to the Home screen to get started.
- Then swipe up from the bottom of the screen and then pause slightly in the middle.
- Swipe right or left to find Messages app.
- Then swipe up on the Messages app card/preview to close it.
If you’re using an iPhone 8 or earlier models, this is how you clear out background apps:
- Double-press the Home button to view your most recently used apps.
- Then navigate through app previews by swiping left or right.
- And to close the app, swipe up on it’s preview.
After ending all background apps, retry launching Mail and see if the error is gone. If it recurs, then you’ve got to move on to the next possible solution.
Second solution: Soft reset/reboot the iPhone.
Another possible solution to this error is a device restart or soft reset. This is most likely what you need if the error is inflicted by minor system glitches. There are different ways to soft reset an iPhone.
If you’re using an iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR, follow these steps to soft reset:
- Press and hold the Side button and either Volume button until the Power off slider appears.
- Drag the slider to power off your iPhone completely.
- Then after 30 seconds, press the Side button again to turn your iPhone back on.
If you’re using an iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or earlier versions, performing a soft reset or restart is done this way:
- Press and hold the Top or Side button until the Power off slider appears.
- Drag the slider to power off the phone completely.
- After about 30 seconds, press and hold the Top or Side button again to turn the phone back on.
Performing the above steps won’t affect any saved information on the phone’s internal memory, hence creating a backup won’t be necessary. After this, try and see if the error “cannot verify server identity” still pops up.
Third solution: Remove your email account then add it back.
Many people who have encountered the same error when using Mail on their iOS device where able to find remedy by removing the email account and adding it back. If you wish to give it a shot, then here’s how it’s done:
- Tap Settings from the Home screen.
- Tap Accounts & Passwords.
- Navigate to the Accounts section.
- Then tap to select the email account that you want to delete.
- Tap the Delete Account button at the bottom part of the screen.
- Then tap Delete from My iPhone to confirm that you want to delete the email account. The selected email will then be removed.
- After deleting the email account, go back to Settings-> Accounts & Passwords menu.
- Then tap the option to Add Account.
- Select your email service provider.
- Enter all the required information.
Then follow the onscreen instructions to complete the entire email setup process. If you’ve set up multiple email accounts on your iPhone, then you should remove and recreate them too. If the error “cannot verify server identity” still shows up after this, move on to the next solution.
Fourth solution: Update iOS and carrier settings.
Updates may also be the key to rectifying the “cannot verify server identity” error if it’s inflicted by iOS bugs. Updates usually embed fix patches to address existing device issues that are attributed to system bugs. If your iPhone has no problem with the Internet connection, then you can check for and update iOS wirelessly. Just make sure that your device has ample of storage space and battery life the complete the entire process.
- To check for iOS update, go to Settings-> General-> Software Update menu.
An update notification will show up if a new iOS version is available. Read and review the update information and then follow the onscreen instructions whenever you’re all set to start downloading and installing the update.
Aside from iOS updates, installing carrier updates can also be considered among other remedies especially if the error is attributed to network problems.
- To check for carrier settings update, navigate to Settings-> General-> About menu then scroll to Carrier section.
Follow the onscreen instructions to download and install the update on your iPhone.
Wait for your iPhone to finish updating and once it’s finished, reboot it to apply the recent system changes.
Fifth solution: Reset network settings.
This reset clears out your recent network settings including customized networks and then restores the default network options and values. If the error is attributed to incorrect or invalid network settings, then performing this reset will likely solve it. Here’s how it’s done:
- From the Home screen, tap on Settings.
- Tap General.
- Scroll down to and tap on Reset.
- Select the option to Reset network settings.
- If prompted, enter the passcode to continue.
- Then tap the option to confirm that you want to reset network settings on your phone.
The phone reboots automatically when the reset is finished. By then you can start setting up your Wi-Fi network to reconnect to the Internet and use online services. Once your device is connected, open the Mail app and see if the error is gone.
Last resort: Factory reset/master reset.
The error likely persists if complex system errors are the underlying cause. In this case, your last option would be a master reset or factory reset on your iPhone. This will erase everything from your device including fatal system errors that might have caused conflicts to your email server settings and triggered the stubborn “cannot verify server identity” error. Should you wish to proceed, back up all your important data to iCloud or iTunes so you can still recover them later. Once you’re all set, follow these steps to factory reset your iPhone through settings:
- From the Home screen, tap on Settings.
- Tap General.
- Scroll down to and tap on Reset.
- Choose the option to Erase all content and settings.
- If prompted, enter your passcode to proceed.
- Then tap the option to confirm full system reset on your iPhone.
After the reset, you will need to set up everything on your device like the way you did when you first used your iPhone. Just use the start-up wizard to set up your iPhone as new. When setting up your email account, be sure to input the correct email account credentials. Once everything is set up and your device is online, check to see if the error is gone by launching the Mail app.
Still getting “cannot verify server identity” error on your iPhone?
It is possible that the error persists due to a problem with your email service provider. For example, the email server may be having some technical difficulties and it’s currently under maintenance. In this case, you can contact your service provider to verify the current status of the email server. You can also ask your service provider/carrier to help you check and re-configure the SMTP settings or incoming and outgoing server on your device.
Alternatively, you can report the problem to Apple Support so that they can make some further assessments to determine whether or not the problem is with the Apple servers.
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