Sending and Receiving Email Attachments for Beginners
Last Updated: September 22, 2015
An attachment is a file (document or program) attached to an email.
In many email applications (e.g. Windows mail ) a picture of a paper clip indicates the presence of an attachment.
Attachments are used to send supporting files, photos etc that is supplemental to the email.
Are Attachments Safe?
All attachments should be treated as unsafe, and not be opened unless you are sure that they are virus free.
You should always save an attachment to your hard drive, and scan with a virus checker before opening it.
Note: Gmail and Yahoo automatically scan attachments for viruses before placing them in your inbox.
Blocked Attachments- Why Some Attachments Aren’t Downloaded
Email providers and email clients may block certain attachments.
Executable files like .exe, .bat, .cmd etc are usually blocked.
If you need to send these types of files you can rename them or zip them or use a file transfer service.
You may also find that encrypted attachments are also blocked as the provider cannot virus scan encrypted files.
Downloading and Opening Attachments
If you use Gmail,Yahoo Mail,outlook.com with a web browser client (webmail) or a mobile phone email App then downloaded attachments are normally placed in a folder called downloads in your user profile.
Note: You should always download and virus check an attachment before opening it.
[outline style=”yellow”]If you are using an email client line Windows Live Mail then attachments are downloaded, and stored with the email message.[/outline]
For desktop clients like Outlook you can save the attachment to your file system by right clicking on the attachment icon and selecting save as.
Note: Saving an attachment does remove it from the email and that the attachment is still stored with the email.
To print an attachment you will need to open it. This usually involves saving it to your computer first.
The attachment will be opened using a compatible program e.g. pdf attachments are opened with Adobe Reader.
Note: you may need to install a supporting application to read and print some attachments.
Forwarding Email With Attachments
If you forward an email message most email client will,by default, forward any attachments with the email.
If you don’t want to forward the attachments you will need to remove them before sending the message. Most email clients allow this.
Outlook (2003) shows the attachments on a separate line, and so all you need to do is highlight the ones you don’t want to forward, and hit delete.
Sending Attachments with Email
Most email clients use the paper clip icon for adding email attachments.
Just click the icon and you should get a browse window that lets you locate the file or files that you want to attach.
Remember that some attachment types may be blocked so be careful what you attach.
Blocked attachments and large attachments can be sent using a file sharing service like OneDrive, Dropbox or Google Drive.
Sending Large Attachments and Blocked Attachments
Email providers have attachment size limits, and even though they are constantly increasing they are not uniform across the Internet.
Gmail and Yahoo currently have a 25 Mbyte limit
This means that your provider may allow the attachment, but it may be blocked at any other email server on its way to its destination.
Fortunately there are now many solutions for sending large files, which are just as easy as sending them by email.
Most systems involve you transferring your files onto a website (which the provider provides), and then anyone who wants to receive the files can download them from the website.
To send the files you usually select which files your would like to send, and the email addresses of your desired recipients.
The recipients receive an email with a download link, clicking the link starts the download process.
By using these mechanisms you will never need to worry again about emails being rejected because attachments were too large or because they are encrypted, or blocked!
Here is a quick diagram that illustrates the process..
Sending Encrypted Email Attachments
If you need to send confidential attachments like tax returns etc then you can easily protect them by using file encryption software to encrypt them before sending.
There are many file encryption tools you can use and the sender and receiver must use the same tool.
The easiest one is the free open source 7ZIP tool which is a file compression tool that also supports encryption.
If you are new to this software then this article explains how to use
Common Questions and Answers
Q-How many attachments can I send?
A- As many as you want. It is the total attachments size that is limited.
Q- Can I encrypt attachments?
A- Yes try the free open source 7ZIP tool
Q- Can I send email attachments using Dropbox even though the recipient doesn’t have a Dropbox account?
A- Yes you can. However the recipient needs to download the attachment from Dropbox as the link to the attachment might expire.
Q– Can I send a folder as an email Attachment?
A- Yes See how to send a folder by email
Email Attachments let you send and receive files and photos using email. You should treat all attachments as potentially dangerous and always virus scan them before opening.
If you need to send very large attachments then use a file sharing service like Dropbox and if the contents are confidential then encrypt the attachments before sending,
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