What Is An Email Attachment?

By Kenny Williams

This week I will address attachments for e-mails. I have had some annoying problems with attachments that come to my AOL account. I can also remember that it took me a while to learn to use Netscapeís e-mail program. If you have ever had an attachment that you were not sure of, or you are asking yourself "what is an e-mail attachment" then this week will be a good read and keep column.

 From the e-mails I have received I see that AOL is a popular service around here. The e-mail network of AOL is very user friendly for sending e-mail with attachments from an AOL account to another AOL account. However, if you are trying to send an e-mail with attachments outside the AOL world it is a different story. Your recipient may not find the attachment so user friendly. On the same note as an AOL user you may find that incoming e-mails with attachments from non-AOL accounts are not as easy to open.

 With AOL you can tell if an e-mail has an attachment by viewing your inbox. If the letter icon has a little disk symbol behind it, it means that it has an attachment to it. To open the attachment click on the download now button. The attachment will start to download to your AOL download folder. When the download is complete it may automatically open for you to view. If this is not the case you will need to open the attachment yourself. There are ways to accomplish this .One is by clicking on "file" then in the dialog box click on the downloaded file. Sometimes you will get a message that the file is too large for AOL to open. In this case you will need to use windows explorer. In windows explorer go to the AOL folder and open it. Find the download folder and click on the newly downloaded attachment. Windows will then automatically open it with the necessary program. If Windows does not recognize the file type, it will pull up a window that will prompt you to choose the program to use to open it . In this case uncheck the box that says, "Always use to open files of this type" and choose the program to open the attachment with.

 E-mail attachments from outside the AOL network will often be converted to what is called a Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension or mime. If you have ever tried to open a mime you probably saw a page that had lots of 0ís, /ís, {--}ís and other foreign symbols. These crazy symbols are not your computer dying. The symbols are computer language in text format. In order to view this attachment you will need a mime converter. You can download a free mime converter from www.cnet.com. Once you have the mime converter installed, drop the mime files into the converter screen and view them.

 To attach a file in AOL all you need to do is click on the button at the bottom of the E-mail window that says, "attach". It will pull up a window that will prompt you to choose the file to attach. Find the necessary file, click on it and then click "ok". I do not recommend sending e-mails with multiple attachments. This can get tricky for the recipient.

 If you use Netscape as your browser the process for attaching files and receiving attachments is similar. Click on the attach button. Then browse to the file you want to attach and double click on it. Now that the file is attached the E-mail is ready to send. To download an attachment first make sure that under View you have Attachments Inline selected rather than Attachments as Links. If the attachment still appears as a link you can click on the attachment. Sometimes the program it was created in will launch. If the program does not open you will save the attachment in a folder and then open the program the attachment was written in, and then use the program to open the saved attachment.

 A common concern about attachments is viruses. You cannot catch a virus by simply downloading an attachment. You can catch one by opening the attachment without scanning it first. I always recommend scanning attachments with anti-virus software before opening it. Even if the attachment is from someone you know, they could have just forwarded the attachment without scanning it for viruses first. You canít be too safe when it comes to E-mail attachments.

If you need computer help or have any questions, comments, suggestions please feel free to e-mail me at WebServerColumn@yahoo.com

The WebServer is a weekly computer column with a circulation of over 120,000 readers in three different publications. Look for your weekly dose of WebServer in The Caribbean Connection in Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami and in The Observer News in SouthShore.

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