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Thursday, December 18, 2008

What is an .EML file? What do I do with it?

Q: I received a forwarded message with an attachment ending in ".eml," but no actual message or only a short message. What is this? How do I open the attachment?

A: eMail programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, and Mozilla Thunderbird save individual messages as .eml files. When you receive one of these as an attachment, it is most likely forwarded from someone who is using one of these email programs.

T: As with ALL attachments, you should save the .eml attachment before trying to open it. *** Many "hoax" and virus-infected messages appear in this format, and saving the file assures that it gets scanned by your anti-virus program ***

Most Windows computers include Outlook Express, so double-clicking the message after saving it will open that program. Outlook will prompt you to set up an account - you can cancel that section and it will open your message.

Windows and Mac users can also open these files in "plain text" format, since these messages are essentially text files "encapsulated" in email code. To do this, simply change the ".eml" extension on the file to ".txt" In general this is NOT recommended (it does not change the type of file, and will usually cause problems) but in this case it will work. Windows computers will open the file in Notepad, Macs in TextEdit. In this format, the message will include some "code" at the top, with the message text in the middle.