How to Delete an Attachment from Received Mail

in Windows Live Mail and Outlook Express

Woman in a home office
Do this delightfully with the attachments you need not keep. StockUnlimited

You can remove files from received emails in Windows Live Mail—if you have any adventurer's spirit left in you.

This is going to be messy; and fun.

Keep the Message, Lose the Attachments

Attachments sure are nice. If only we were not often so much less attached to them than they are attached to their messages. Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail and Outlook Express, alas, offer no easy "remove attachments" command.

You can, however, edit the message source manually and remove all attachment traces or, in a manner messy in its own way, forward yourself the emails but not their attachments.

For more comfortable attachment deletion, you can use a tool like Attachment Extractor for Outlook Express (which works with Windows Mail, too).

Delete an Attachment from Received Mail in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express

To un-attach a file from an email you have received in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express:

  1. Drag and drop the message from Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express onto the Windows desktop.
  2. Open Notepad.
  3. Drag and drop the message file from the Windows desktop onto Notepad.
  4. Scan the text for the attachment you want to remove.
    • Often—especially if the attachment is not an HTML or plain text file—, the attached file is encoded and displays as gibberish. (Note that the actual message content can appear encoded, too.)
    • Look for lines that specify a "Content-Type:" other than "text/html" and "text/plain".
    • That same "Content-Type:" specification should also mention a "name". This is the file name and the name under which you would save the file to disk in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express.
  1. In the line beginning with "------=_NextPart" immediately above the attachment, highlight the random text from "NextPart" to the line's end.
  2. Press Ctrl-C.
  3. Now press Ctrl-F.
  4. Press Ctrl-V.
  5. Make sure Up is selected under Direction.
  6. Click Find Next.
  7. Highlight the entire line.
  8. Press Del.
  9. Click Find Next again.
  10. If you find the string in the message's header area — i.e. the line does not start with "------=_NextPart" but is indented and part of a block that begins with "Content-Type:":
    1. Highlight everything from "Content-Type:" until the beginning of the next line that is not indented.
    2. Press Del.
    3. Make sure you leave no empty line behind.
    4. Put the cursor at the beginning of the first (looking downwards) line that starts with "Content-Type:".
    5. Highlight all empty empty lines preceding it. If you encounter a line reading "This is a multi-part message in MIME format.", highlight it as well.
    6. Press Del.
  1. Select Down in the Find dialog.
  2. Click Find Next.
  3. Now click Cancel.
  4. Highlight everything from the beginning of the line up to and including the next line that begins with "------=_NextPart".
  5. Press Del.
  6. Now press Ctrl-S.
  7. Close Notepad.
  8. Drag and drop the message file from the Windows desktop back into Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express.
  9. Delete the original message in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express as well as the desktop file.

Delete an Attachment by Forwarding to Yourself in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express

If you don't care to preserve the original message, you can also keep most of a message's content without storing its attachments by forwarding the message to yourself:

  1. Open the desired message.
  2. Click Forward.
  3. Highlight all attachments you want to remove in the attachment area.
  4. Click on one of them with the right mouse button.
  5. Select Remove from the context menu.
  6. To remove inline images:
    1. Click on the undesired image.
    2. Press Del.
  7. Address the message to yourself and click Send.

(Tested with Outlook Express 6, Windows Mail 6 and Windows Live Mail 2009 and 2012.)