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Why Should You Buy a Microsoft Surface?

Files, referred to as attachments by computer linguists, can be tucked inside an e-mail message. On your Surface, you can send or receive nearly any file, but with a few stipulations:

  • Most mail servers — the computers that process mail — can’t handle files totaling more than 25MB. So, you can usually send a song or two, a handful of digital photos, and most documents. That’s usually not enough to send videos, however.

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

When somebody attaches a file or two to your incoming e-mail, the Mail app lets you know with two signals:

  • Messages bearing attachments include a tiny paperclip icon next to their subjects.

  • When you open an e-mail with an attachment, an icon appears, showing what’s been attached. For example, an attached photo will appear as a thumbnail-sized preview icon; a PDF file will appear with the icon for the Reader app, which is your Surface’s app for displaying PDF files.

To open or save the file or files attached to the e-mail you’re reading, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the icon representing the attached file.

    If you just want to view the attached file, tap the file’s icon. If your Surface has an app or a program capable of opening the file, the file opens in a new window to the right of the Mail app, letting you see or listen to the attachment.

    If your Surface can’t open the attachment, it displays the message, “We Can’t Open This File.” If you see that message, write back to the sender, saying you can’t open the file.

    After you’ve seen or heard the file, you may be done and ready for different adventures. But if you want to save the file for later access on your Surface, give the attached file a more permanent home by moving to Step 2.

  2. Tap and hold the attached file’s icon and tap Save or Download 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 place to another.

  3. Choose a folder to receive the saved file.

    Tap the word This PC in the File Picker’s top-left corner, and a drop-down menu of your Surface’s available storage areas appears. Depending on your Surface’s connections, you may see any or all of these items: OneDrive, This PC, Libraries, Homegroup, and Network. Tap the name of the place you’d like to save the attached file.

    To store the file on one of your Surface’s libraries, for example, choose Libraries or This PC from the drop-down menu. When the File Picker lists your Surface’s available libraries, tap the name of the library where you’d like to store the file: Documents, Pictures, Music, or Videos.

    Don’t know where to stash an attached file? Choose the Documents folder or 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 lower-right corner.

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

    Windows 8.1’s built-in virus checker, Windows Defender, automatically scans your incoming e-mail for viruses, worms, and other malware.

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

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

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