Messenger can’t open links? Here’s what to do

There are multiple reasons why Messenger can’t open links. Namely, the majority of files one would send as attachments require other apps and services. An obvious example is the PDF file format that can’t be accessed with Messenger and you need to open it externally.

However, users that have a hard time with this are probably aware of that. The nature of the problem is quite different from what it seems. They receive the “…sent a link” or “…sent an attachment” message instead of actual attachments and links. So it’s not only about opening received files but getting them in the first place. If you’re among the affected users, check the steps we provided below.

Table of contents:

  1. Clear data and cache from Messenger
  2. Check Background data usage
  3. Grant all permissions to Messenger
  4. Reinstall Facebook Messenger

Why can’t I open links in Messenger?

You might not be able to open links or attachments in Messenger because:

  • You have connection issues on your Android.
  • For Facebook or Instagram links, you might not have permission to access the link or Facebook attachment. For example, the one who posted the photo or video sent to you restricted access and didn’t make the Facebook or Instagram post visible to the Public (e.g. your sender is on their Friends or Followers list and you are not thus you can’t see the post even though your sender can). In this case, your sender should consider taking screenshots or recording the screen. Don’t forget that Facebook photos can be downloaded and shared that way, too (wink-wink).
  • The hyperlink is faulty or the post is not unavailable or removed.
  • Messenger is unable to open that file extension (not all files are supported).
  • Background data usage is not allowed so Messenger stops loading incoming link previews and attachments while using mobile data.
  • The local data is corrupt so the app misbehaves.
  • The sender is not on your Friends List and you didn’t accept their Message request.

1. Clear data and cache from Messenger

The first thing to do is clear the cache and data from Facebook Messenger. That will reset the app so you’ll need to sign in again but, hopefully, the problem won’t reappear later.

Here’s how to clear data and cache from Facebook Messenger:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Select Messenger from the list of available apps.
  4. Tap Storage.
  5. Clear cache and check for improvements.
  6. If that doesn’t help, clear the data and restart your device.messenger can't open links
  7. Sign in to Facebook Messenger.

2. Check Background data usage

This one is the most recommended solution we found online. It seems that enabling system-wide Data Saver will result in issues with larger files received in Facebook Messenger, like videos or hi-res photos others shared with you.

In addition to that, if Messenger doesn’t have permission to use data in the background, the result might be the same. So, you can either disable Data Saver or change app settings for Facebook Messenger. This applies if you use Mobile Data to chat on Messenger.

Here’s how to tweak Background data usage permission for Facebook Messenger on Android:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Select Messenger.
  4. Tap Mobile data and Allow background usage. You can also allow background usage with the Data Saver enabled on some Android devices.
  5. Now, open Battery optimization and disable optimization for Facebook Messenger.messenger can't open links

This should fix the problem but, if you still get incomplete attachments and links without previews, you can check more permission settings.

3. Grant all permissions to Messenger

Some suggest granting all permissions to Messenger to fix the problem, although we can’t replicate the problem and thus can’t say whether this is true or not. You can give it a try and revoke some permissions later, if case you don’t want Facebook Messenger to access your Location or Contacts.

Here’s how to grant all permissions to Facebook Messenger:

  1. Once again, open Settings > Apps > All apps > Messenger.
  2. In the App Info screen, tap Permissions.
  3. Grant all listed permissions to Facebook Messenger and test for improvements.messenger can't open links

4. Reinstall Facebook Messenger

Finally, the only remaining troubleshooting step that comes to mind is to reinstall Facebook Messenger. Just don’t forget to inspect the aforementioned settings concerning background data usage after you install the app and sign in again.

To reinstall Facebook Messenger, navigate to Play Store and search for Facebook Messenger. Tap Uninstall, restart your device and get back to Play Store again. Install Facebook Messenger and check if the issue persists.

If Messenger still can’t open links on your Android, report the problem to Facebook in the app’s Help Center. Hopefully, it’s just a temporary bug that will be sorted out with the next update.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to tell us if this article helped you or not. You can share your thoughts, questions, or suggestions in the comments section below. Or reach us on Twitter and Facebook.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in January 2022. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.

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