Unable to Open Attachments in Outlook? Fix the Issue Easily!

Published by John on Last Updated On :

Unable to Open Attachments in Outlook


Do you know that an average working professional exchanges close to 40 emails a day? Worldwide, over 4 billion people use email. This figure is rapidly increasing with every passing year. 

Clearly, email exchange is a regular part of people’s life. Outlook is a hugely popular email service that people use to exchange messages. In such a scenario, if you find yourself unable to open attachments in Outlook, your whole day can come to a standstill. 

Don’t worry. You’re not the only person facing this problem. Many people report of this issue frequently. So, in this article, you’ll find some effective resolutions for the same. 

Related Post, Why: Outlook Not Showing Attachments


Why You are Unable to Open Attachments in Outlook?

Email attachments can contain crucial work-related files. So, if you cannot open them, you can miss out on vital communication. But this problem does not happen on its own. Here are some main reasons that render you open email attachments in Outlook.


1. Unidentified File Format

If your PC doesn’t have the needed program to identify file format, you’ll definitely face this problem. If your colleague sends you a .PSD image file and your system doesn’t have Adobe Photoshop installed, you can’t open the image file attachment. So, you need to know the file format of the attachments and install a program that supports it.


2. The File Format is Associated with the Wrong Program

Do you have the necessary program to open the attachment in a specific format, but it’s still not opening? It means that the file format is associated with an incorrect program. It can also mean that the said program is experiencing problems. In this case, you can save the attachment, right-tap the file, and choose a different program to open it. 


3. Compressed File 

When people need to send more than a few files via email, they compress them into a single compressed file. Then, the compressed file gets attached to the email. However, if the file is in a .rar, a .zip, or other compressed file formats, it won’t be possible for you to open it. So, it must be uncompressed before opening. 


4. Presence of an Antivirus Program

Another reason why Outlook email attachments won’t open is because of interference by the antivirus on your system. These programs can interfere with the opening of attachments. The antivirus blocks your capacity to open safe Outlook attachments. 


5. Files are not in a Windows-compatible Format

Often, it so happens that the email sender is a Mac computer owner and the files they attach are not in a format that’s compatible with Windows. It leaves the recipient confused about why they can’t open attachments in Outlook. So you must let your email sender, who’s a Mac computer owner, know that you use a Windows PC, and their email must be in a compatible format.


6. Outlook Add-ins

Add-ins in Outlook can also hinder you from opening email attachments. The natural course of action for it is to disable all add-ins. 


7. Corrupt File

If the email attachment you receive is corrupt, it can also be a reason for this problem. So you can ask the sender to verify if the attachment works on their system.

Related Post: How to Backup Outlook Emails


How to Fix ‘Unable to Open Attachments in Outlook’ Problem?

The various reasons described above have their own specific fixes. Read about the different ways you can try opening attachments in Outlook.


1. Use Save As

You can try to save the Outlook attachment in a location other than your desktop or download folder. Do it before opening it straight from the email. Go through these steps to implement this method.

  • Right-tap the attachment and then click ‘Save As.’
  • Choose a location that’s not your default download folder or desktop. 
  • Name the attachment and then save it. 


2. Use the Right Format Extension to Download Files

Sometimes, your file format can prevent you from downloading and opening attachments. You must know about the file extensions and the associated file types. It will allow you to open the attachments easily.

MS Word .docx or .doc
MS PowerPoint .ppt, .pps, or .pptx
MS Excel .xlsx, .xls
Compressed file .zip
Adobe Acrobat .pdf
Executable file .exe
HTML file .html
Audio file .mps
Bitmap Microsoft Paint


3. Clear Temporary Files

When you find attachments in Outlook not opening, it can be because of excessive temporary system files. Clean them by following these points. 

  • Tap the Windows button present in the top-left corner.
  • Input %tem% in the search bar, and press Enter. 
  • Now, you will see a folder appearing. In it, select every temporary file. 
  • Now, press ‘Delete.’
  • The next step is to clear your Recycle Bin.
  • Start Outlook again and try opening the attachments. 


4. Disable Your Antivirus Application

Sometimes, you may find yourself unable to open Outlook attachments because of the antivirus software on your PC. The antivirus software regards even safe files as suspicious mistakenly. Your antivirus program may then block the attachment, and you won’t be able to open it. In such a case, try disabling the software temporarily. 


5. Make Microsoft Email Address the Main Email Address

If you are repeatedly encountering an ‘Access is Denied‘ error, it’s likely that your primary email address is a non-Microsoft one. So, changing the primary email ID to a Microsoft email ID will effectively resolve the problem. 

  • Go to the account page of Microsoft and sign in with your account.
  • Next, head over to ‘Your info‘ and choose ‘Manage your sign-in email or phone number.’ 
  • Give a Microsoft email ID in the ‘Make Primary Area.’ Remember that a Microsoft email ID ends with
    1. @hotmail.com
    2. @live.com
    3. @outlook.com 


6. Disable Outlook Add-ins

Many users are unable to open attachments in Outlook because of problems caused by add-ins. So, it’s best to disable them by adhering to the steps below. 

  • Launch MS Outlook.
  • Tap’ File,’ ‘Options,’ followed by ‘Add-ins.’
  • Below ‘Manage,’ tap ‘COM Add-ins.’
  • Tap ‘Go‘ and uncheck every add-in. 
  • When you have disabled everything, tap ‘OK.’
  • Exit MS Outlook and open it again. 


7. Install Current Outlook Updates

If you are missing the latest Outlook updates, you’ll be unable to open Outlook attachments. Follow the steps below to install the current Outlook updates. 

  • Open MS Outlook, and tap ‘File.’
  • Next, launch the ‘Office Account‘ tab, and tap the ‘Update Options button. 
  • Now, choose ‘Update Now‘ in the menu on your screen. 
  • Restart Outlook. 


8. Checks to Implement for a Corrupt File

You cannot open a corrupt mail attachment as it’s damaged. If the file gets infected with the virus, they become corrupt and inaccessible. So, you must implement some checks to get an uncorrupted file.

  • Request the sender to confirm if the file is opening on their computer.
  • If the file isn’t accessible, the problem lies in the source location. The sender must make another file that isn’t damaged and send it to you.


Final Thoughts

Email exchange has become vital for people today. The fixes above will help you when you are unable to open attachments in Outlook. However, there’s a slight chance they may not work.

In such a scenario, it’s wise to connect with a professional Outlook support service. The technicians will diagnose the root cause and help you to open attachments in Outlook as before.

Written By


John is a Technical Writer at Email Support, has 10 years of experience, and is an expert in Email and Cloud Computing. His specialty is writing about the Email clients such as Outlook, Yahoo, Verizon, SBCGlobal, Gmail, Apple Mail, AOL, WildBlue, and others.

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John is a Technical Writer at Email Support, has 10 years of experience, and is an expert in Email and Cloud Computing. His specialty is writing about the Email clients such as Outlook, Yahoo, Verizon, SBCGlobal, Gmail, Apple Mail, AOL, WildBlue, and others.

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