4 Ways to Get Access to Blocked Attachments in Outlook

If Outlook prevents you from opening attachments, here's a workaround

All versions of Outlook since Outlook 2000 Service Release 1 include a security feature that blocks attachments that might put your computer at risk for viruses or other threats. For example, certain types of files (such as .exe files) that are sent as attachments are automatically blocked. Although Outlook blocks access to the attachment, the attachment remains in the email message. 

If Outlook blocks an attachment, you cannot save, delete, open, print, or work with the attachment in Outlook. However, here are four methods designed for beginner and intermediate computer users to get around this problem.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003; and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

Use a File Share to Access the Attachment

Ask the sender to save the attachment to a cloud storage service, server, or FTP site and send you a link to the attachment. Click the link to access the attachment and save it to your computer.

Use a File Compression Utility to Change the File Name Extension 

If no server or FTP site is available to you, ask the sender to use a file compression utility to compress the file. This step creates a compressed archive file that has a different file name extension. Outlook does not recognize these file name extensions as potential threats and does not block the attachment.

Rename the File to Have a Different File Name Extension

If third-party file compression software is not available to you, request that the sender rename the attachment to use a file name extension that Outlook does not recognize as a threat. For example, an executable file that has the file name extension .exe could be renamed as a .doc filename extension.

Many anti-virus and firewalls filter out attachments even after the file extension has been changed.

To save the attachment and rename it to use the original file name extension:

  1. Locate the attachment in the email.

  2. Right-click the attachment and select Copy.

    Right clicking on an email attachment in Outlook.
  3. Right-click the desktop and select Paste.

    Pasting the attachment to the desktop.
  4. Right-click the pasted file and select Rename.

    Right click context menu on the desktop.
  5. Rename the file to use the original file name extension, such as .exe.

    Changing the name of the file on the desktop.
  6. In the confirmation dialog box, select Yes.

    Confirming the change of the file extension.

Ask the Exchange Server Administrator to Change the Security Settings

The administrator may be able to help if you use Outlook with a Microsoft Exchange server and the administrator configured the Outlook security settings. Ask the administrator to adjust the security settings on your mailbox to accept attachments such as the one that Outlook blocked.

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