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Share Files via Email

Email isn't just for sending and receiving messages; it's also a convenient way to share files. You might, for instance, email pictures of your new baby to friends. Or you may attach and send a business proposal to a client. As another example, you may submit expense reports or other memos to your company. Being able to share documents makes telecommuting possible; it expands the possibilities of sharing information.

With email, you can attach any type of file. Keep in mind, though, that to use the file, the recipient must have a program that can open that file type. Also, some mail servers have a limit on the size of the files they allow as attachments. (You can always compress the documents, as covered in Part 2.)

If someone sends you a file attachment, you can either open it or save it to disk, if you have the appropriate program. Because viruses often spread through email, you should be careful handling any attachments you receive, especially program files (sometimes called executable files and usually with the extension .exe). See "Avoid Viruses" for information on preventing the automatic open of attachments. Also, Part 9, "Be Safe," contains more information on virus protection programs. Just note that you should set up your virus program to run a virus check on any files you receive as an email attachment or on a disk.

Opening an Attachment

You can use email to view documents other users have sent to you. To open an attachment:

  1. Display the message with the attachments. Attachments are indicated with a paper clip icon.

  2. Double-click the message. All attachments are listed in the Attach text box.

  3. Double-click the attachment icon. You see the Mail Attachment dialog box.

  4. By default Windows XP reminds you about the potential of viruses. Click Open. The file is opened.

If the attachment is another email message (common for forwarded messages), the email message is displayed. You may have to double-click the attachment a few times to actually get to the message.

Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 To remind you that attachments may contain viruses, you are prompted to confirm that you want to open the attachment.

If the attachment is a document, it is opened in the appropriate program. For instance, if you open a Word document, Word is started and that document displayed. If you don't have the program or if Outlook Express doesn't know how to handle the document, you'll be prompted to select the program. Part 6, "Save Time," covers setting up document/program associations in more detail.

Saving an Attachment

You can save attached documents to keep and use as you need. To save an attachment, follow these steps:

  1. Display the message with the attachments. Attachments are indicated with a paper clip icon.

  2. Double-click the message. Any file attachments are listed in the Attach text box.

  3. Right-click the attachment and then click Save As. (If there are several attachments and you want to save them all, click Save All.) You see the Save As dialog box.

  4. Figure 3.8Figure 3.8 You can save the attachment to a folder on your computer with the default name or a new name.

  5. Select a folder, type a new file name if you want, and click Save. The document is saved. For more information on saving documents, refer to Part 1, "The Basics."

Attaching a File to a Message

You can use email to share documents with others. To attach a file to a message:

  1. Create the message, typing the address, subject, and message content.

  2. Click the Attach button. You see Insert Attachment dialog box, similar to the Open dialog box used for opening documents (see Part 1, "The Basics," for more information).

  3. Figure 3.9Figure 3.9 You can attach any of the documents on your system.

  4. Change to the drive and folder that contains the document and then select the document.

  5. Click the Attach button. The file attachment is listed in the Attach text box of the message. You can then click the Send button to send the message and attachment.

When working with attachments, keep a few points in mind:

  • You can attach more than one file, but keep in mind that downloading attachments takes time. Also, as mentioned, some ISPs have a limit to the size of file attachments. If you need to send several files, compress them into a folder (see Part 2) and then send the compressed folder. Or send the files individually.

  • If you don't want to have to confirm opening an attachment for a particular file type, you can uncheck Always Ask Before Opening This Type Of File in the Mail Attachment dialog box. You can also turn off this warning for all attachments, although it's not advisable. See the section in this part named "Avoid Viruses."

Avoid Viruses

Windows XP provides some features to help prevent email viruses (those from others and those you might unwittingly send). In particular, you can make sure that no email messages are sent by a program without your consent. Also, you can make sure you are prompted each time you open an attachment.

To make sure these virus protection features for mail are turned on, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Tools menu and click Internet Options.

  2. Click the Security tab.

  3. Figure 3.10Figure 3.10 Use the options in the Virus Protection area to prevent viruses.

  4. To prevent mail being sent without your knowledge, check Warn Me When Other Applications Try To Send Mail As Me.

  5. To be prompted when opening an attachment, check Do Not Allow Attachments To Be Saved or Opened That Could Potentially Be a Virus. Note that this will not check for viruses, but will simply prompt you when you open an attachment, as a reminder.

  6. Click OK.

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