View, open, or save attachments

Email messages that include attachments—files or items—are identified by a paper clip Attachment icon icon in the message list. You can preview many different types of attachments directly in the Reading Pane, open the attachments from the attachment icon in the Reading Pane or the message, or save one or more attachments to your computer, OneDrive, or other cloud storage location.

Outlook accepts a wide variety of different file types, but blocks potentially unsafe attachments (including .bat, .exe, .vbs, and .js files) that can contain viruses.

Security Note: Even with Outlook attachment protection, be careful in opening any attachment, especially if it’s from someone that you don’t know or trust. When in doubt, confirm the authenticity of the attachment with the sender. Also, keep your computer antivirus software up-to-date.

Open or preview attachments

Most of the time, you'll see attached files in the Reading Pane, directly under the message header or subject. Occasionally, particularly when receiving pictures, you'll see the attachments in the message body.

View received attachments in the Reading Pane

If you double-click the attachment icon, you'll open the attachment. If you want to preview or save the attachment instead, choose the drop-down arrow on the right side of the attachment icon to see the attachment menu.

  • Preview When you preview an attachment, the attachment contents are displayed in the Reading Pane. Not all attachment types can be previewed. PDF files and attachments stored in the cloud, such as OneDrive or Dropbox attachments, can't be previewed. To return to the message, choose Attachments > Message > Show Message.

  • Open Choose Open to open the attachment. If you don't have a program installed that can open the attachment, Outlook will ask you to choose a program on your computer. If you want to change what program you use to open an attachment, see Change the file association for an attachment.

  • Save As To save the attachment to your computer or cloud storage location, choose Save As. This will only save a single attachment. To save all attachments from a single message, choose Save All Attachments. All of your attachments will be saved in the same file location.

Troubleshooting attachment problems

  1. How can I change where my attachments are saved by default? Attachments are saved in your Documents folder by default. There is no setting to change this within Outlook.

  2. How do I save an edited attachment so my changes are attached to the original email? If the attachment sender used OneDrive or another cloud storage option, any changes you make to the attachment are automatically saved. If the sender didn't use a cloud storage option, you can use the drop-down arrow on the attachment icon and choose Save to OneDrive.

  3. Can I turn off attachment preview? No. In Outlook 2016 and Outlook 2013, you can't turn off the ability to preview attachments.

  4. How do I open or preview PDF attachments? If you use Microsoft Edge as your default browser, PDF attachments should open in Edge. To open them in Adobe Acrobat Reader or another PDF viewer, see Change the file association for an attachment.

  5. How do I change the browser used when opening or previewing attachments? Outlook will use your default browser to open or preview many types of attachments. To change your default browser, see Change your default browser in Windows 10.

Change the file association for an attachment

Many types of files can be opened by more than one program. For example, you can open a photo with the Photos program or with Paint, among others. To change the default program that Windows uses to open each type of file, use the following steps.

  1. In Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10, choose Start and then type Control Panel.

  2. Choose Programs > Make a file type always open in a specific program. If you don't see Programs, choose Default Programs > Associate a file type or protocol with a program.

  3. In the Set Associations tool, select the file type you want to change the program for, then choose Change program.

  4. Once you've chosen the new program to use to open that file type, choose OK.

Open an attachment

You can open an attachment from the Reading Pane or from an open message. In either case, double-click the attachment to open it.

  • To open an attachment from the message list, right-click the message that has the attachment, click View Attachments, and then click the name of the attachment.

You can preview attachments in HTML or plain text messages in the Reading Pane and in open messages. Preview is not available for attachments to RTF messages.

  1. To preview an attachment, click the attachment and it will show in place in the message body

  2. To return to the message, on the Attachment Tools tab, in the Message group, click Show Message.

After opening and viewing an attachment, you may choose to save it to a disk drive. If a message has more than one attachment, you can save multiple attachments as a group or one at a time.

Save one or more attachments

  1. Click the attachment in the Reading Pane or the open message.

  2. On the Attachments tab, in the Actions group, click Save As. You can also right-click the attachment, and then click Save As. To select multiple attachments, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the attachments. To save all attachments, choose Save All Attachments.

    Save As command on the ribbon

    Note: If the message is in RTF format, in the Reading Pane or the open message, right-click the attachment, and then click Save As.

  3. Click a folder location, and then click Save.

View (preview) an attachment without opening it

Attachment Preview, a new feature in the 2007 Microsoft Office system, allows you to preview some attachment file types without opening them. For information about sending attachments in an e-mail message, see Attach a file or other item to an e-mail message.

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. 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 Office 2007 application installed on your computer. For example, to preview a Word 2007 attachment, you must have Word 2007 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). Also, Attachment Preview is only available when you are looking at received messages and not when you are composing new messages.

Preview an attachment
  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.

To learn about how to preview PDF attachments in Outlook 2007, see Preview PDF attachments.

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. 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 you want to turn off, and then click OK.

To turn them on, click to select the Turn off Attachment Preview or specific attachment previewer options,

To learn more about attachment previewers, see Find attachment previewers.

Open an attachment

You can open an attachment from the Reading Pane, from a message in a message list such as your Inbox, or from within an open message.

  1. In the message list, select the message that has the attachment.

  2. In the Reading Pane, double-click the attachment. You can also right-click the message that has the attachment and choose View Attachments.

    Note: If you are given the choice between opening and saving the attachment, keep in mind that it is a good idea to save the file first and then scan it by using an antivirus program before you open it.

Save an attachment

After opening and viewing an attachment, you may choose to save it to your hard disk drive. If a message has more than one attachment, you can save multiple attachments as a group or one at a time.

Save a single attachment from a message
  1. In the open or previewed message, right-click the attachment that you want to save.

  2. On the shortcut menu, click Save As.

  3. Choose a folder location, and then click Save.

Save all attachments from an open message
  1. In the open message, on the Message tab, in the Actions group, click Other Actions, and then click Save Attachments.

  2. Click OK, choose a folder location, and then click OK again.

Save all attachments from the message list
  1. In the message list, select the message that has the attachment.

  2. On the File menu, point to Save Attachments, and then click All Attachments.

  3. Click OK, choose a folder location, and then click OK again.

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