Sending and Receiving Attachments

Problems sometimes arise when you send an attachment to, or receive one from someone who uses a different type of computer or program than you do.  Computers have learned to speak each others' languages fairly well over the years, but there are still times when you can't open an attachment someone has sent you, or a recipient can't open an attachment you have sent. Here are some things to try.

If your recipient cannot open the attachment you sent:

Try sending it using a different email method

  • If you used Webmail, try using an email client like Eudora or Thunderbird.
  • If you sent it through a different ISP, try sending it though Hampshire.

Re-name your document

  • Excessively long names can cause problems for some applications; try something shorter.
  • Eliminate spaces in the file name: use-hyphens-or_underscores_between words instead of spaces.
  • Include an extension, such as .doc (Word documents) or .xls (Excel). A PC cannot open a document without an extension, while a Mac sometimes can. PC's add file extensions automatically, though they may be invisible on your computer. If you are on a Mac, make sure to check "append file extension" when you are in the "Save As" window.

Alternatives to Microsoft Word Documents

  • When sending a document to someone who may use a word processing application other than Microsoft Word, select "Save as" in your File menu, and select "Rich Text" from the File Type list. Use this option also if you use a different word processor (e.g. Wordperfect) and want Word users to be able to open the file.
  • Save your word doc as a PDF (your recipient will not be able to edit it). Use the full version of Acrobat if you have it. For Windows users there are free utilities (such as PDF Creator) that can be downloaded to save files as PDFs.  If you are using Mac OS X, you can also click "Print" and then "Save as PDF."

If you cannot open someone else's attachment, try this:

  • Save the document to your computer.
  • Make sure it has a filename extension (see above). Give it one if necessary. 
  • If you know what kind of file it should be, open the appropriate application, i.e. Word or Excel.
  • Use the File→Open command from within the application to open the document.