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Working with E-mailed Documents

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Working with E-mailed Documents.

It is quite common, in this electronic age, for Word documents to be sent around the globe as e-mail attachments. The ease with which this is done is astounding to those of us who remember the "old days" of personal computing. If you receive a Word document as an e-mail attachment, there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind.

First, if the document is from an untrusted source, make sure you have some sort of virus protection in place. The attachment you think is a document may not, in fact, be a real document. It could be virus or worm programs that execute directly if you double-click the attachment. It is also possible that the document itself could contain a macro or two that may be hazardous to your system.

Second, if you plan on making changes to the received document, make sure you save the document as a regular file before you make changes to it. In other words, don't double-click on the attachment and then make changes. Here's why: When you double-click on the attachment, most e-mail programs save the file in a temporary directory and then use Word to open it. When you close the document, any changes you made are saved to the file in the temporary directory, they are not saved to the attachment itself. It is even possible that the e-mail program simply throws away the temporary file in the temporary directory. In this case, all your changes are completely lost.

The best bet is to explicitly save the attachment as a file. Then, outside of the e-mail program, you can use Word to load the file and make changes. In this case the received file acts as you would expect it to. If you then want to send the changed file to a different person, all you need to do is attach it to a different e-mail message and send it on its way.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (160) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Working with E-mailed Documents.

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Comments for this tip:

Malcolm    24 Jan 2014, 11:13
You can also use a free attachment remover for Outlook, available at:
This allows you to cut any attachment and paste it into any folder you choose. And it leaves a link behind in the email. Used on all attachments it dramatically reduces the size of Outlook's PST file while making attachments much more quickly (and independently) available.

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