How to open strange email attachments

One of the most common email questions we get is along the lines of how to open email attachments.

An email attachment is a file that is sent along with a regular email message. The file or files can be photos, PowerPoint presentations, documents or just about anything else.

Here are a few tips for opening strange email attachments.

1. Don’t do it unless you know it’s safe. There are still a few viruses out there that travel as email attachments. These viruses spread to people in the infected computer’s address book so they likely will come from someone you know.

Common virus extensions (see extensions defined in the next the next step) include .vbs, .exe and .zip. However there are others out there so be careful.

2. Note the extension. Most attachements don’t open because the attachment was created using a program that you do not have on your computer. The extension is the three letter code at end of the extension’s name. For example photo.jpg, slideshow.ppt.

3. Visit FileXT and search for the file extension. This will tell you what program created the file and whether or not a viewer is available for download. A viewer is a program that allows you to read, but not edit, the given type of file.

4. You can also visit the website for the given program manufacturer to see whether a viewer is available.

Here are some common viewers:

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