Outlook Express


Blocked Outlook Express Attachments


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Help with blocked outlook express attachments!

The Cause:

Not being able to open attachments sent to you by email is a common support issue for users of Outlook Express 6.

This usually happens after you install:

Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 (SP1)


Windows XP SP1



BOTH of which include Outlook Express 6 SP1.

By default Outlook Express 6 SP1 blocks access to some of your e-mail attachments in Outlook Express 6.

For example, you may experience any of the following symptoms:

(NB - The following blocked Outlook Express attachment REALLY is a virus and so demonstrates this useful feature!)

1) When you click the paper clip in the Preview pane, the Save Attachments and the file name commands are unavailable (they are pale grey). As in the following screen shot:


(Figure 1)


2) When you open an e-mail message, the Attach field is missing from the e-mail message, and the following message is displayed in the message alert bar at the top of the e-mail message:

"Outlook Express removed access to the following unsafe attachments in your email: name of file"

The following screen shot shows Outlook Express 6 blocking access to the attachment.


(Figure 2)


This behaviour occurs if the Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus option is enabled, and the e-mail attachment is determined by Outlook Express to be "unsafe".

By default, the Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus option is enabled in Outlook Express 6 SP1.

When this virus-protection feature is enabled, Outlook Express uses the Internet Explorer unsafe file list and the Confirm open after download setting in Folder Options to determine if a file is safe.

Any e-mail attachment with a file type that is reported as "unsafe" is not downloaded, and access to the attachment is removed.

If you are sure that the attachment is safe to download or open, use the following method:

NOTE: Because there are several versions of Microsoft Windows, the following steps may be different on your computer. If they are, see your product documentation to complete these steps. This info is for Windows XP and Outlook Express 6 SP1

Turn off the Option to Use the Unsafe File List

To turn off the Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus option:

1. Start Outlook Express 6.
2. On the Tools menu, click Options.
3. Click the Security tab, click to clear the Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus check box under Virus Protection
, and then click OK.

The following screen shot shows the Security Tab in Outlook Express 6 SP1:


(Figure 3)


Now close Outlook Express 6 and the settings will take place once you restart the email program.


NB- Outlook 2000, XP and 2003 have a 'feature' that blocks attachments based on the file extension too! This is great for blocking viruses, but unfortunately, it also blocks legitimate attachments from coming into your Inbox. Use DetachOL to change which file types are blocked, according to YOUR needs, not those of the Outlook development team!


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Marc Liron - Microsoft MVP

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