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Opening blocked attachments in Outlook Express by dbMark
Posted: 18 Jun 04 (Edited 18 Jun 04)

Starting with Outlook Express 6.0 SP1 many users (on various Windows versions, not just XP) started noticing that they couldn't open some attachments in their emails.  One blocked file type that I noticed was PDF files.  The program displays a yellow message just above the From line saying, "OE removed access to the following unsafe attachments in your mail: {filename}.pdf".  I haven't heard of PDF files being risky or unsafe to open although about the same time this happened Microsoft was encouraging the use of their alternate or comparable information-sharing format.  Whatever the case, a new security setting in Outlook Express triggered this issue.  While better email security was obviously needed, it did confuse many users who all of a sudden couldn't open their usual attachments.  Here are 3 ways to deal with it.

1.  Simply click on the Forward button.  In that message window you can access the attachment and either open or save the PDF, then close or cancel the forward message window.  Pretty easy to get around blocking, right?  Quick but dirty.

2.  Go to the Tools menu, select Options, click on the Security tab and uncheck the setting marked "Do not allow atttachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus."  A more permanent solution than above but now you've lowered your level of protection.

As I recall, Microsoft had said that the new security setting in OE accesses default Windows file type settings that were pre-existing.  While Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 329570 does not list which file types may be blocked, the only one I've encountered is the common PDF type.  Nor does this article describe how to change the Windows file type settings.


3.  If you want to change the setting for specific Windows file type settings rather than the 2 methods above, then right-click on Start, click Explore (Windows Explorer), select Folder Options from the Tools menu, click on the File Types tab, and search for the registered file type or extension you want to edit.  Highlight that type, select Advanced, select "open" action from the displayed list and uncheck "Confirm open after download".  Of course, do this only for file types that are relatively safe and harmless.

In case you would like to add to file types a new file type, this articles describes how to use the above method in the note under the subheading "Using the Internet Explorer Unsafe File List to Filter E-mail Attachments":


Please feel free to correct me if I've misunderstood anything here.

In addition, another member has created FAQ779-5063 which describes how to add a file extension to the Windows registry's keys which specify which file attachments Outlook should not block.  Possibly this may work for Outlook Express as well.  (Exercise due caution!)


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