Email Attachments

Sending Mail Attachments

The procedure for attaching a file or files to an email message varies a little depending on the email program you use. In general, you can click on an attachment icon, such as a paper clip, located on the toolbar of the mail program or select Insert on the menu then select File… You then browse the hard drive or removable disks to select the file you want to attach. When the file is found, click the file to select it and click “OK”. The attached file will appear as part of the email header or as an icon within the body of your email message.

Many mail programs will allow you to drop and drag a file you want to attach into the message. To use this method, locate the file you want to send on your hard drive or removable disk. Once the file is located, open your email program and begin composing a new message. Drag the file on the hard drive or removable disk to the body of the message and release the mouse. Note: If the message cannot be dropped into the body, try dropping it into the subject field.

Note about sending attachments: The maximum message size any user can send through the mail servers(not in all) is 10MB (or 10,000 Kb) or more. However, it is recommended that you do not send a file larger than 1-2 MB to eliminate possible problems in sending or receiving mail attachments. If you would like to send a large attachment to someone, consider using a “Zip” application, such as Winzip to zip and compress your attachment files or break down your attachments into parts and mail them as separate, smaller email messages. Bear in mind that the size of the message will include, in addition to the attachment, some overhead – namely, the encoding to convert the file to text when sent then back to it’s original form when received.

Very large mail attachments may be rejected by the recipient’s mail server and cause their email box to exceed the mail quota; the email with attachment may be bounced back to the sender as “undeliverable”. Large attachments may also cause the recipient’s email to “hang” when he or she attempts to download the message. Note that, on a dial-up, a 500k file takes about two minutes.

Troubleshooting Mail Attachments

Problems with attachments include viewing, opening, sending and receiving. Large attachments can cause a locked box and “hang” the download of messages. Attachments may also hang on sending, resulting in an undeliverable message or the message(s) to be stuck in Outbox. Large attachments can also result in an overquota email box. Some common problems with attachments are discussed below. Refer to the link on mail quotas for additional information.

A word of caution about email attachments. Is it a virus?

Do not open the attachment without first determining that it is safe to open it. Make sure it is an attachment that you expected to receive from a trusted source. Take a few precautionary steps to make sure that the attachment will not launch a “payload” virus or worm.

1. Does the attachment icon look like an executable (program) file even though the file name indicates it’s an image? If the attachment does appear to be an executable program, do NOT click on it. Doing so may launch a program that contains a virus.
2. Look at the name of the attachment by right clicking on the attachment and selecting Properties. The three letters to the right of the period indicate what type of file it is: Files that end with “.exe”, “.ini”, “.bat”, “.pif”. “.vbs” are a few extensions of executable files that can launch dangerous programs, although they are, of course, sometimes legitimate.

If the attachment is suspicious, delete the message immediately. See Viruses for more information.

Unable to send or receive an attachment

Large email attachments may cause the mail download to ‘hang’ or cause the message to get ‘stuck’ in the Outbox and result in an undeliverable message. A virus such as Happy99 may also prohibit you from sending email attachments. (See MSKB Q221486).

A 200K attachment can take a long time to download on a computer that does not meet the Minimum System Requirements. If you are trying to receive a large attachment and you are operating a low-end or older computer system, make sure you do not have other applications open or running at the same time you are downloading your email.

If you or the recipient is protected by a ‘firewall’ or using an Exchange server configured to block attachments, sending and receiving attachments may be problematic. To make the file pass through intact, you can generally change the file extension from .xxx to .xx_ (use an underscore as the final character) and provide instructions to the email recipient for renaming the file back to it’s original extension after it is saved locally.

Cannot open or view an attachment

The most common cause for this problem is a security setting in Outlook Express. Check under the Tools -> Options menu, and click on the Security tab. There is a check box that reads Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus. Uncheck that box and try to re-open the message. You should be able to view the attachment.

File format issues

An email attachment you receive may not be in a format that you are able to view if you do not have a program installed on your computer that can be associated with the attachment’s file extension. For example, a file with an .eml should open with Outlook Express on a default system. A file with a .doc extension can be opened with Microsoft Word. Any .htm ot .html attachment would open Internet Explorer or another browser such as Netscape. If you do not have a program installed on your computer that is associated with the file type, you will be prompted to Open with ?. Note that file formats supported by the Macintosh Operating System may not be supported by PC Operating Systems.

Determining what program is associated with a file type

To determine what program is associated with a file extension, refer to TechFileFormat or for a list of file extensions and their associated programs.

Unable to open .eml files

If you are not able to open an .eml file, refer to Q312355: Unable to Open EML File Attachments in Outlook Express . Note that this may sometimes be caused by installing/uninstal ling a program such as Incredimail.

Compressed files

If the file extension is “.zip” then you need a compression program like “Winzip” to open it (Note: Windows XP has a built-in compression utility). If the file extension is “.hqx” or “.bin” then you need a compression program like ” StuffIt” to open it. This program comes in both Mac and Windows versions.

Common image file types and associated programs

An attachment that ends in .jpg is a jpeg compressed image. One ending in .gif is a graphic interchange format image. Most graphics programs will open these file types. Images may also be sent in .tif format. The recommended TIF viewer is Imaging for Windows. This software is installed with all Windows operating systems. If you do not have it installed on your machine you can reinstall it from your system CD.

1. Double-click My Computer.
* Windows 2000/ME: Select Tools | Folder Options.
* WinNT: Select View | Options.
* Windows 98: Select View | Folder Options.
2. Select File Types.
3. Under Registered File Types, select TIF extension.
4. Under Details, click Change.
5. Locate Imaging for Windows and click Open.
* Note: If you cannot find the program, reinstall Imaging for Windows from the system CD..
6. Click OK.
7. Then restart your browser and see if you are able to view the images.

Microsoft viewers

If you receive a file attachment for an Microsoft Office product, such a file with the extension of .doc (MS Word) or .pps (Power Point) but do not have Microsoft Office installed on your computer, download and install the appropriate Microsoft viewer to open and view the attachment.

Email encoding properties

If you have problems viewing attachments, and it comes up as gibberish in the text of the message rather than as an attachment, it is possible that your mail application’s encoding is different from the sender’s email application. In order to be able to view an attachment, the encoding between the sending and receiving systems must be identical. Generally speaking, your email software will automatically encode the attachment and the recipient’s software will automatically decode the file. However older email applications may not support some of encoding protocols which may include:

* MIME Encodings ( Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) is an Internet standard for multimedia mail which allows different mail applications to exchange a variety of types of information. Most current PC Email Applications are MIME Encoding Compliant.
* No encoding does not encode the attachment at all. This can be risky to use for Internet mail and should be used only if you know that the attachment is a plain text file with no high bit characters.
* ASCII text Indicates that the file is plain text with no formatting or high-bit characters.
* UUencoding This encoding is widely on the Internet. This encoding is a good choice.
* BinHex Used with Macintosh machines but not widely used on other operating systems. Before sending an attachment, check in advance that the recipient is able to deal with BinHex-encoded files.

If you are having problems properly Decoding a file, contact the sender to determine what email program they are using. You should try and determine which encoding scheme is in use and make sure your software supports it.

Outlook Express 6 virus protection feature strips attachments

If you are using Outlook Express 6 on Windows XP and cannot receive attachments, the virus protection feature may need to be adjusted. Open Outlook Express, click Tools on the menu then select Options. Click the Security tab and uncheck the “do not allow” box. You will not be able to open the current attachments you have, but this will allow you to open any new attachments you receive. Refer to MSKB Q291387 for information.

Unable to view any html messages in Outlook Express

Open Outlook Express, click Tools on the menu then select Options. Click the Read tab and uncheck the box to “Read all messages in plain text”.

Using an attachment to send an AOL customer an HTML message

Attachments from AOL are often multiple, forwarded messages. You can send an HTML message to an AOL user by making a saved attachment of it. They can then use Outlook Express to view it. AOL HTML cannot be read by Outlook Express.

Unable to Open EML File Attachments in Outlook Express

When you attempt to open an .eml attachment in Outlook Express, either the file may not open or you may receive an error message that states that there is no program associated with this file type. See MSKB Q312355 for a solution.
Open with ?

Have you ever downloaded a file, went to open it, and ended up with a dialog box asking you what program you want to open the file with?

When this screen presents itself, it normally means one of three things:

1. You don’t have a program on your computer to open up the file in question. Most programs automatically set up file associations when they are installed, so if you’re getting this error, you may not have the software that is required to open the file. If that is the case, your next step is to figure out what kind of program you need to open the file then download / purchase it.
2. The file isn’t meant to be opened. The majority of the files found on our computers are either program files or files that support programs. So if you’re just hunting around with Windows Explorer to see what you can open (mess up, play with, etc.), you’re probably going to be disappointed. Most of these type of files aren’t really meant to be opened. In fact, if you do find a way to open them, they would probably look like gibberish.
3. The last possibility is that you do have a program on your machine that is capable of opening the file in question. Unfortunately, with all the different file formats floating around out there, it will be a guessing game trying to figure out what program can open a particular file. It is usually best to start with Windows Notepad (or Simple Text for Macintosh users). Many of the files on a computer are little more than text files that don’t use the “txt” extension. So, scroll down the list on the Open With screen, highlight Notepad or Notepad.exe, click Open, and see what happens.

OK, so you don’t know what program should open the file: What can you do?

If you get a file from someplace and aren’t able to open it, your best bet is to contact the people who you received the file from and ask them what application (program) is used to open that type of file.

If that fails, try this site (http://whatis. techtarget. com/fileFormatA/). They have an enormous list of file extensions and the type of program you need to open them. Other site is : Ask Leo page. You will need to know the file extension to look up the program on this site. The file extension is usually the last 3 characters at the end of a file name. Example: example.eml – settings is the file name, log is the file extension. You will find that an eml file should be an email message that opens in Microsoft Outlook Express

Mail Quotas

What is a mail quota?

A mail quota is the amount of space reserved on the server to house your email messages. The  mail quota is 10 Megabytes; this is roughly equivalent to 1600 single page email messages.

What causes a mailbox to become over quota?

When you check your email using a program like Outlook Express using the POP3 protocol, the messages are downloaded from the mail server to your computer and therefore do not count towards your quota. Reasons for your box to exceed the quota include:

Email attachments: Large email attachments may lead to a mailbox exceeding the quota. Generally speaking, email messages without attachments are less then 10 Kilobytes; however, an attached image, program file, or multimedia file can sometimes be larger than 5 Megabytes! See Email Attachments for more information.

Copies of messages are left on server: If you have configured your email program to leave a copy of your email messages on the server, your mailbox becoming over quota.

Spam Folder: If you use the Spam Filter, messages in your Spam folder count towards your quota. If you receive a lot of spam, you may need to manually remove messages from the Spam folder. Click here for instructions.

What happens when my mailbox is over quota?

You will receive an email, warning you that your mailbox is getting close to quota. If your mailbox exceeds the quota, there is no room for additional mail and all new messages will bounce back to the sender.

How do I keep my mailbox below quota?

If you use an email program, such as Outlook Express or Netscape Messenger:

* Download all email from the server to your PC.
* If you use IMAP, watch the size of messages you receive. Consult your email program help if you are not able to see the size of your messages.
* Remove messages with large attachments by saving them to your computer’s hard drive, or by deleting them.
* Do not leave a copy of the messages on the server. This option is available option on most email programs. Select your email program below for instructions for disabling this option

I got a valuable comment for this post; (Julia)

To avoid the email attachment problem users may also want to consider using other alternatives to send large files. I use a web based file transfer solution to send all my large files, its just as easy to use as sending an email attachment but without all the problems that you discussed.

There’s another blog that talks about it also:

Hope this helps!


6 thoughts on “Email Attachments

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s