Author: Geek Computer
Saturday, February 8, 2020

I Can't Open Email Attachments

Category: Windows Software

Email attachments are the files you receive alongside your email messages. The files come in different formats. The most common and widely used are the .pdf, .doc, .zip, or .html

There are various other forms, and each requires specific computer programs to view. But at times, email attachments do not open. There are many reasons for this, and most relate to the differences in computer components or installed programs. 

So, before you begin the process of solving issues of why email attachments won’t open, start by getting the following information:

  • Type of device sending and receiving the file
  • The type of file format in the email
  • The computer programs installed on your computer

With the above information, you can now start solving problems related to email attachments not opening on your devices.

Check on your Storage Space

If you are using a phone or device with space limitations, email attachments may fail to open. It’s common for the downloads of email attachments to stop because the device does not have enough storage space. 

To ensure you do not get stuck during downloads, always confirm available storage spaces. After checking, if you discover limited space, you may have to delete unnecessary folders. You can also uninstall apps you do not use to create more space. 

Another option would be to clear the cache on your computer. To clear cache, go to the menu button on the Windows page, select Settings, move to Advanced option, then Privacy and Security and select Clear Browsing Data. The next menu indicates the types of files you can choose to delete. The types of files you can remove range from cached pictures, cached files, browsing history, or all browsing data on the computer.

I Can't Open Email Attachments

Once the delete process is complete, refresh your PC and try downloading the email attachment again. If, after creating more storage space, the email attachments do not download, try other fixes. 

Confirm If your Device Recognizes the File Format

Different file formats require specific computer programs to download. For example, a .doc or .docx file format requires a Microsoft Word or Google Docs app to open. So, if you have only a .doc supporting device and receive a different file, like let’s say a .html, you will have to look for alternative ways of accessing the file. 

The first thing you can do is request the sender to change the file format to allow access through the available applications. You can also install the right app on your computer, especially if you expect to receive more files in that format. 

Another option would be to save the file on your desktop, right-click on the saved file, and choose Open With to select another format you can use to access the folder. The choices you have are opening the files through the Notepad or Wordpad. If your installed apps recognize the current file format, then you can update your settings and select them as the default email download apps. 

Basically, unrecognized file formats are the reason most email attachments refuse to open. For this reason, you should try opening the email attachments using different computer applications. If, after several attempts, neither of the applications works, you can select alternative solutions from those listed in this article. 

Your Security Programs Could be Blocking the Emails

Malware poses a significant threat to computer users. It is because of malware attacks that computer users install sophisticated anti-malware programs. The software works best in detecting suspicious email attachments, but it can also flag and block legitimate email attachments. 

If you receive email attachments that you are confident do not pose a threat to your device, then you can temporarily disable the anti-malware program to download the file. Remember that, disabling an anti-malware program poses other security risks to your computer. 

It is for this reason that the procedure is recommended only as a temporary solution. You should enable the anti-malware program immediately the attachment opens or refuses to open. Consider using other methods if the first or second attempt cannot open the email attachment.

The File Format is Corrupt

If, after trying several methods, you still cannot open the email attachment, it is likely the file could be corrupt. The sender could have used a program that does not save the file correctly, thus affecting how you view and download the attachment.

There is a simple way of correcting corrupt files. You can start by asking the sender of the email to create another folder and send it in a new email. This method works only if the sender confirms that the attachment works from their end, and they only need to recreate the old file. 

But if the file does not open from both ends, it is recommended for the sender to create a new file using a different computer program. Using a different computer program could change the unrecognized formats and resolve the issues. 

If the mentioned solutions do not work, another option would be to check programs’ updates and ensure you are using the latest versions. You can download the latest version of computer programs from the company’s website.

Your File Format is Associated with the Wrong Program

If in the past you have opened a similar file format and it worked well, then the reason the email attachment is not opening could be a wrong association in file formats. Computer programs can, at times, change their association path and prefer a different program for the opening of files. This could be because of system error or simply because a specific program was removed. 

For this, you have to change the association path. First, open the explorer tool by clicking Windows + E keys. You can then Right-Click on the file that needs changes and press Properties. Next, press Change and choose the program you want to use. Click on Apply, then Ok to activate the program. 

I Can't Open Email Attachments

The application should work right away if the issue were a bad file association. But if there are other causes, the file cannot open, and you have to try a different method 

Issues with your Outlook Add-ins

For a business, Microsoft Outlook Add-ins, like the ContactMonkey email tracking program, are used to improve employee engagement, thus boosting productivity. But sometimes, Outlook add-ins block email attachments, making them inaccessible to the recipient. 

To resolve the issue of Outlook add-ins blocking email attachments, you must disable the options in the Microsoft app. First, open the Microsoft Outlook folder, then select the File option. Click on Options, then Add-ins, and press the Go option. 

The next step is to choose the Manage button and uncheck all the Add-ins. Finish the process by clicking OK and refresh your computer. Confirm if the changes enable the opening of email attachments and, if not, select another method to enable access of the email files.

Compatibility Between Two Different Types of Devices

Technology allows access to information through internet-enabled devices. But even so, certain programs can only work in specific devices. An example is sending a Mac-compatible attachment to a Windows user without changing the format. Due to the incompatibility issues, the PC cannot read the forms, and this leads to attachments not opening.

If you are in such a situation, you can request the sender to change the format of the Mac files into Windows-compatible files to enable access. You can also choose to download the necessary programs to your computer to allow access to the attachments. 

But if the available applications can still not open the files, the only other option would be to use a similar device as that of the other party. Also, make sure you communicate on the type of device you are using. Communication will save you from the hassle of sending messages to resolve issues relating to email attachments not opening. 

Check Compressed Files

Compressed files allow for the sending of multiple files in a single folder. The .zip, .rar, .gz, .tgz are all examples of compressed file formats you can use to save on storage space and send large files. Specific programs are required to open compressed files because, in some instances, you first have to extract the files before you can view them. 

To extract the compressed files, start by downloading the email attachment and save the file. Locate the folder where you saved the compressed file and right-click on the file. If you already have an application for extracting compressed files, then the next step is to press the Extract button. Confirm you have the right file then click on "Extract to". That makes your files ready and available in the selected folder.

But if you are working with a computer that does not natively support the extracting of compressed files, you can download an application online. Most of the available choices allow for access through the free versions. But even so, your selection should be a program that operates correctly on various devices and supports different file formats.  


The successful opening of email attachments depends on computer application, type of devices, and file formats. If there is clear communication between the sender and recipient, it is likely there won’t be issues of email attachments not opening. One or more solutions are needed when you cannot open email attachments. But in each case, the first solution is to follow the best practices when sharing email attachments. 

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