How to Save an E-Mail Attachment - dummies

By Dan Gookin

A good chunk of the e-mail you receive will likely have attachments tagging along. Depending on your e-mail program, you may see the attachments directly in the message: The images appear, and perhaps even the videos show up in their own windows, where you can watch them, right in the message.

To save the attachments, follow these general steps:

  1. Select the message or open the message in its own window.

    Double-click a message in the Inbox to open it in its own window.

  2. Choose File→Save Attachments from the menu.

    The command may be subtly different, depending on your e-mail program, but generally it’s found on the File menu.

  3. Use the dialog box to find a location for the file.

    Use the Browse button to change the folder location.

  4. Click the Save button to save the attachment.

The most important thing to do is follow Step 3 closely: Remember where you saved the attachment. The biggest problem with receiving attachments is that people forget where they put them.

You may want to create a special folder for your e-mail attachments. Inside your Documents folder, create a subfolder named E-Mail Attachments or just Attachments. Place all attachments in this folder initially. Later, you can copy the attachments to other, more appropriate folders. But by placing all the attachments in the same folder, you always know where to find them.

  • You don’t have to open an e-mail attachment.

  • When you cannot open an e-mail attachment, or when you’re prompted to find a program to open the file, reply to the sender. Have the person resend the document in a common file format.

  • If you’re not expecting an e-mail attachment, do not open it.

  • You’re never required to open an e-mail attachment; there’s no legal liability for failing to do so. Serious stuff arrives by way of postal mail, not by e-mail.

  • It may also be possible to save a file attachment by clicking an attachment icon in the message window. Again, all e-mail programs handle attachments differently.

  • Compressed folders or ZIP archives sent as attachments require a bit more work: You must first save the ZIP attachment. Then you need to open the ZIP archive or compressed folder and extract its contents.

  • It’s common for some folks to send out PowerPoint presentation files. You need to have the Microsoft PowerPoint program to view those files. When you don’t have PowerPoint, you can download a free PowerPoint viewer from Microsoft’s website. To find it easily, just type PowerPoint viewer in the Search box.

  • Some images sent in an e-mail message cannot be saved. These are typically embedded images, which are part of the message itself and not an e-mail attachment. The only way to save these images is to reply to the sender and request that the images be attached. (What the person is doing is using the Insert→Picture or Insert→Image command instead of Insert→File Attach or File→Attach.)

  • Your PC’s antivirus software may add a few steps to the attachment retrieval process. That’s a good thing; it’s wise to be wary.