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Send and Receive Files through Your Surface E-Mail App

Windows 8’s Mail app on your Surface does a no-frills job of sending and receiving e-mail. Files, referred to as attachments by computer linguists, can be tucked inside an e-mail message. You can send or receive nearly any file, but with a few stipulations:

  • Most mail servers can’t handle files totaling more than 25MB. That’s enough for a song or two, a handful of digital photos, and most documents. That’s usually not enough to send videos, though.

  • If you send a file you’ve created in Microsoft Word and the recipients don’t have Microsoft Word, they won’t be able to open or edit your Word file. To avoid confusion, let the recipient know what program you used to create your file.

To conserve your precious storage space, the Mail app doesn’t automatically download attached files and save them to your Surface. Instead, the Mail app shows attached files using a faintly colored icon, like the one shown here.


Whether you want to open or save the attachment, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the word Download next to the attached file.

    Tap the word Download, and the Mail app downloads the file onto your Surface. After the Mail app finishes downloading the file, its icon regains its healthy coloring, as shown here.


    If you just want to view the attached file (or play an attached song), tap the file’s icon and choose Open from the drop-down menu. If your Surface has an app or program capable of opening the file, the file opens, letting you see or listen to the attachment.

    After you’ve seen or heard the file, you may be done and ready for different adventures.

    But if you want to access it later, give the attached file a more permanent home by moving to step 2.

  2. Tap the attached file’s icon and tap Save from the drop-down menu.

    Windows’s File Picker appears. The File Picker serves as the Start screen’s equivalent of the desktop’s File Explorer: It lets you shuttle files from one location to another.

  3. Choose a folder to receive the saved file.

    Tap the word Files in the File Picker’s top-left corner, and then choose which library to receive the incoming file: Documents, Pictures, Music, or Videos.

    Don’t know where to put it? Choose the Documents library, which serves as a catch-all for anything that’s not a photo, song, or movie.

  4. Tap the Save button in the File Picker’s bottom-right corner.

    After you’ve chosen the file’s destination, the File Picker places a copy of the e-mailed file in that location.

  5. Repeat these steps to save any other attached files.

    Unfortunately, the Mail app doesn’t allow you to select multiple files and save them in the same place. So, you must repeat these steps for every attached file you want to save.

Windows 8’s built-in virus checker, Windows Defender, automatically scans your incoming e-mail for viruses, worms, and other malware on both Surface models.

  • Even after you save the file to a folder, it remains in your e-mail. If you somehow lose your saved file, head back to original e-mail and repeat these steps to save a fresh copy.

  • You can only download attached files when connected to the Internet. That’s why it’s important to save files you may need to access in areas without Wi-Fi coverage.

  • To avoid hogging space on your Surface, many e-mail accounts only display your last two weeks' worth of messages in the Mail app. After two weeks, those files scroll off your Surface’s Mail app.

  • If you need an attachment you received three weeks ago, it might not be lost forever, even if it’s scrolled off the Mail app. Try visiting your e-mail’s website. Some sites like Gmail let you access all your e-mails, no matter how old they are.

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