Email Attachment Problems

By Sarah Barnes

If you are having problems sending attachments in an e-mail, there could be a number of causes, including attachment size, type, location and destination. Good news: These problems are easily fixed.

Attaching the File

First, ensure that you have attached the file to the e-mail properly. In your e-mail program, look for the "Attach" button. In Microsoft Outlook and other software-based e-mail programs, this looks like a paper clip. Click this button, and a list of your computer's files should come up. Locate the file you need and select it. Then press "OK."

File Size

If the file you are trying to send is quite large -- such as a video, a music file or a PDF with many pages -- many e-mail programs will have trouble sending it. The size of an attachment may be limited, and even if your file is under the limit, it will take the program a long time to send your e-mail. This may cause the program (or your Internet browser if using web-based e-mail) to crash and/or slow down your computer's other functions. Try using a smaller file, splitting a multi-page file into several documents or compressing the file using a ZIP file program.

File Types

If you are sending an unusual type of file, the recipient may not have the program necessary to open the program. For example, a file from a Windows-only program may not be usable on a Mac. When trying to open this file, the recipient will be asked to choose the program to open from a list. Open the attachment on a computer that has the necessary software installed.


If you or your recipient use a firewall, you may have problems with e-mail attachments. Firewalls are designed to increase online security, and they may confuse your legitimate e-mail with one designed to infect a user's computer with a virus. If this happens, the firewall may need to be disabled before you can send and receive attachments successfully.


If you are still having problems sending a file through e-mail, try uploading it to a file-sharing site like Photos and video can be shared on social media sites like Flickr, Picasa and Facebook. After you've uploaded your files, simply e-mail a link and downloading instructions to the recipient.