Preview attachments

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.

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Preview an attachment

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 is 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.

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Turn attachment previewers on or off

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.

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