Email Attachments FAQs

  • How do I save e-mail attachments?

Saving e-mail attachments before opening them is the preferred method of operation. You should never open an attachment that you are not expecting, looks suspicious, or that has a sender you do not know. Depending on your antivirus software, opening attachments directly from e-mail without saving them first puts you at greater risk. The best policy is to save them first and then open them from the location you have saved them. This is how you do that.

You either click on the attachment and you will be prompted whether to open or save the file (choose save), or in some e-mail programs you will have to right-click on the attachment and choose "save as". You will then be prompted to give the file you are saving a name and to choose the location where you would like to save it.

  • How do I make sure the attachment is safe to open?

Once again, the most important factors are that you are expecting the attachment, it does look suspicious in nature, and that you know the sender of the message. Beyond that you can use your antivirus software to confirm that the file is safe. This document will assume you are using Norton Antivirus since that is what we use at the law school and fell protects you best from viruses. If this is for a home computer, Norton Antivirus can be obtained using your CalNet ID and password from, or you can stop by the Help Desk to obtain a copy on CD.

Once you have installed and performed a "Live Update," you will be able to scan the attachment you have saved. You will navigate to the location you saved the file using Windows Explorer or My Computer. Once you have located the file, you can right-click on the file and choose "Scan for Viruses". This will bring up a window telling you whether the file is clean or infected.

  • What can I do if an attachment doesn't open?

Unfortunately, there are limited options when an attachment comes to you and does not open properly. It is too difficult to know what it was created in, how it might have been converted, what version was used, and what type of file it really is. However, if you know that you were expecting a word processing or image file you can try the following. If you were expecting a word processing file you can try renaming the file extension to .wpd, .doc, and .txt attempting to open as each type of file. If that doesn't work, you will have to respond to the sender and tell them which version of Word or Word Perfect you are working in and request them to resend it in a compatible format. The same can be done for image files attempting to rename their file extensions to .jpg, .gif, .tif, and .bmp.

  • When various people email me attachments, I don't get the attachment and get an email body filled with gibberish instead. What should I do?

This commonly happens when exchanging files via attachment from different email programs. You should be able to always receive the attachment if you log in to Webmail. For accounts, you can log into Webmail at For UCLink accounts, you can log into Webmail at