How to E-Mail a File - dummies

By Dan Gookin

One of the simplest e-mail operations you can perform is to send someone a file. You don’t actually send a file. You create an e-mail message and attach the file to the message. When you send the message, the file just goes along for the ride. Follow these steps to make it happen:

  1. Compose the message.

    The primary thing you’re doing is sending e-mail. An e-mail message has one or more recipients, a subject line, and an actual message.

  2. Click the Attach button on the toolbar.

    The Attach button commonly sports a paper clip icon, such as the example from Outlook Express, shown in the margin. You may also see a File→Attach command or a toolbar button labeled Attach.

  3. Use the dialog box to search out the file to attach to the message.

    The dialog box is similar to the standard Open dialog box found in any application. Use the dialog box’s controls to look for the storage media, folder, and eventually the file you want to send.

    It helps if you remember approximate location of the files you want to attach.

  4. After the file is found, click the Open or Attach button to attach it.

  5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 to attach additional files.

  6. Send your message.

    In most e-mail programs, you simply click the Send button and off the message goes, attachment in tow.

It may take longer than normal to send the message, depending on the size of the attachment. Delivery is nearly instantaneous, though keep in mind that it might take some time for the recipient to pick up the e-mail.

  • To send multiple files, place the files into a compressed folder (or ZIP file archive). After they’re zipped, you can send all the files as a single compressed ZIP file. Of course, the recipient has to deal with the compressed folder, which is an extra step.

  • Avoid sending any e-mail attachment larger than 10MB. Most online mailboxes are capped at 10MB. If you send a larger message, the recipient’s mail server rejects it. If you need to send something bigger, zip it or put it on a CD,DVD, or a thumb drive and send it snail mail.

  • In older versions of Outlook, the command to attach a file is Insert→File.

  • Do not send shortcuts! Send the original file. If you send a shortcut, the recipient gets only a tiny file stub that’s utterly useless.

  • Try to send the generic version of a document file; don’t send documents created in Office 2010/2007 or in WordPerfect, because not everyone has those files. The generic document file format is RTF, or Rich Text Format. You can also save the document by using the HTML format, which can be read by anyone using a computer with a web browser.

  • Avoid sending programs. Most antivirus utilities automatically assume that a program attachment is a virus. The program file may make it, but the recipient most likely will delete it. To avoid that, send two messages. In the first one, explain that the next message contains a program attachment and it’s legitimate. Then follow up with the e-mail message containing the attachment.