Preview attachments

In Outlook, you can view files or items attached to an email message. How you view those attachments depends upon which version of Outlook you're using.

An example of an email message that includes an attachment.

What would you like to do?

File attachments can be viewed in the Reading Pane or in the body of an email message without opening another program.

The attachment previewer feature in Outlook only works if you have the same version of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint installed as the version of Outlook being used to preview the attachment.

An attachment can appear in the Reading Pane or in the message body.

  1. In the Reading Pane, click the attachment below the Subject line to preview the file or item.

    Reading Pane with an attachment

  2. Click Show Message or the attachment to switch between the attachment preview and the message text

Occasionally, attachments appear within the message body. The difference results from the message format.

Attachments within the message body can’t be previewed. To view these, open the attachment.

To help protect you from malicious code when previewing files, Outlook disables embedded active content, such as scripts, macros, and ActiveX controls. Outlook also blocks potentially unsafe attachment file types (including .bat, .exe, .vbs, and .js files) that can contain viruses. Blocked attachment files can’t be viewed or opened.

It’s a good idea to preview or open attachments only from trustworthy sources. When you receive an attachment from someone you don’t know or that seems odd, contact the sender first.

Outlook includes attachment previewers for other Microsoft Office programs. You can turn them off.

  1. Click File > Options > Trust Center.

  2. Under Microsoft Outlook Trust Center, choose Trust Center Settings.

    Trust Center in Outlook Options

  3. Choose Attachment Handling, and then choose one of the following:

    • To turn off all attachment previewers, select the Turn off Attachment Preview check box.

    • To turn off a specific attachment previewer, select the Attachment and Document Previewers check box, and then clear the check box for the previewer. Repeat as needed.

What would you like to do?

You can preview received attachments without opening them or leaving Outlook. Attachments can be previewed in the Reading Pane or in an open message. Email messages that have attachments are identified by a paper clip icon Attachment icon in the message list.

The attachment previewer feature in Outlook only works if you have the same version of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint installed as the version of Outlook being used to preview the attachment.

Important: Microsoft Outlook blocks potentially unsafe attachment file types (including .bat, .exe, .vbs, and .js files) that can contain viruses. You can’t view or access a blocked attachment file. Blocked attachment files are listed in the InfoBar at the top of a message.

To help protect you from malicious code, active content embedded in attachments (including scripts, macros, and ActiveX controls) is disabled during a preview. We recommend that you preview or open attachments only from trustworthy sources.

You can preview an attachment in the Reading Pane or inside an open message.

Why do some attachments appear in the message body?

Depending on the format of the message that you receive, attachments appear in two places in the message.

  • In HTML or plain text messages, attachments appear in the attachment box below the Subject line.

    Attachments line

  • In RTF messages, attachments appear in the message body. Even though the file appears embedded in the message, it's actually a separate attachment.

    Attachment in message body

Preview an attachment in an open message
  • In the open message, click an attachment. The preview appears in the body of the message. To return to the message, click the Message below the Subject line.

Preview an attachment in the Reading Pane
  1. In the message list, select a message that includes an attachment.

  2. In the Reading Pane, click the attachment. To return to the message body, click Message.

Outlook includes attachment previewers that work with other Microsoft Office programs to enable attachment previews. By default, these attachment previewers are turned on. To preview an attached file that was created in an Office 2010 application, you must have that Office application installed on your computer. For example, to preview an Excel attachment in Outlook, you must have Excel installed. Third-party software vendors may provide previewers that support additional attachment file types.

Note: The previewers in Microsoft Office 2010 provide additional security against potentially harmful code so that you can preview attachments more safely. Turning off the attachment previewers removes that layer of protection.

If you don't want to use some or any of the attachment previewers, do the following in Outlook:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Options

  3. Click Trust Center.

  4. Under Microsoft Outlook Trust Center, click Trust Center Settings, and then click Attachment Handling.

  5. Do one of the following:

    • To turn off all attachment previewers, click Turn off Attachment Preview.

    • To turn off a specific attachment previewer, click Attachment and Document Previewers, clear the check box for a previewer that you want to turn off, and then click OK.

What would you like to do?

When you receive an attachment in a message and want to quickly see what the attachment contains without opening it, you can preview the attachment in the Reading Pane or in an open message. Attachment Preview, a new feature in the 2007 Microsoft Office system, allows you to preview some attachment file types without opening them. Messages that have attachments are identified by a paper clip icon Attachment icon in the message list.

Important: By default, Microsoft Outlook blocks potentially unsafe attachment files (including .bat, .exe, .vbs, and .js files) that can contain viruses. You cannot view or access a blocked attachment file, but a list of blocked attachment files appears in the InfoBar at the top of your message. You should preview or open attachments from trustworthy sources only.

You can preview an attachment in the Reading Pane or from within an open message. The attachment previewers that come with the 2007 Office release are on by default.

Note: To preview an attached file created in a 2007 Microsoft Office system application, you must have that 2007 Office application installed on your computer. For example, to preview a Word attachment, you must have Word installed. To preview an Excel attachment, you must have Excel installed.

Attachment Preview is supported for messages that are formatted as HTML and plain text but not for messages that are formatted as Rich Text Format (RTF). Furthermore, Attachment Preview is only available when you are looking at received messages and not when you are composing new messages.

I'm not sure where to find an attachment in a message

Depending on the format of the message that you receive, attachments will appear in two different places in the message. The format in which a message is composed is indicated in the title bar at the top of the message.

Message

  • If the message format is HTML or plain text, attachments will appear in the attachment box below the Subject line.

    Attachments line

  • If the message format is RTF, attachments will appear in the body of the message. Even though the file appears to be embedded in the message, it's actually a separate attachment.

    Attachment in message body

  1. Open the message that has the attachment. Messages that have attachments are identified by a paper clip icon in the message list.

  2. In the open message, click the attachment to preview it.

  3. To return to the message body, click the Message button.

  1. In the message list, select the message that has the attachment that you want to preview.

  2. In the Reading Pane, click the attachment. If there are multiple attachments, you may need to scroll horizontally to find the attachment that you want.

    Note: A preview might not show the most up-to-date content in the file. To see the most complete, up-to-date content, open the file. For example, you can double-click a .docx attachment to open it in Microsoft Word.

  3. To return to the message body, click the Message button.

Preview attachment

1. Click to view the message

2. Click to preview the attachment

3. Attachment preview

4. Click to view the next PowerPoint slide

Attachment previewers that come with the 2007 Microsoft Office system allow you to preview the following files in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007:

  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 items.

  • Microsoft Office Word 2007 documents

  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 presentations

  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007 worksheets

  • Microsoft Office Visio 2007 drawings

  • Images and text files

Third-party software vendors may provide their own previewers that support additional attachment file types; you can use your Web browser to search the Web to find additional information. When available, you can download and install previewers to preview additional file types in Outlook.

Important: To help protect you from malicious code, active content embedded in attachments (including scripts, macros, and ActiveX controls) is disabled during a preview. You should preview or open attachments from trustworthy sources only.

Attachment previewers that come with the 2007 Office release are on by default. If you don't want to use some or any of the attachment previewers, follow these steps to turn them off.

  1. In Outlook, on the Tools menu, click Trust Center, and then click Attachment Handling.

  2. Choose one of the following:

    • To turn off all attachment previewers, click Turn off Attachment Preview.

    • To turn off a specific attachment previewer, click Attachment and Document Previewers, clear the check box for a previewer you want to turn off, and then click OK.

    • To turn on attachment previewers, select the Turn off Attachment Preview check box or specific attachment previewer options.

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