How to Open, Edit, and Convert EMAIL Files

Outlook Express uses the EMAIL file extension

What to Know

  • Open with Outlook Express, or rename it as an EML file and open it in another program or online file viewer.
  • After renaming the file, try an online file converter tool like Zamzar to convert and read in another program.
  • Also, try opening the file in a text editor and saving it to a different file format. EMAIL files are rarely seen.

This article explains how to open and convert an Outlook Express EMAIL file so that you can read the message's contents in a modern email program.

How to Open an EMAIL File

EMAIL files can be opened by Windows Live Mail, part of the old, free Windows Essentials suite. An older version of this program, Outlook Express, will also open EMAIL files. 

This Windows Essential suite has been discontinued by Microsoft, but can still be found in some places (for example, you can download Windows Essentials 2012 at Digiex. Outlook Express has also long been discontinued; we recommend using, an email service with free options.

If you're having trouble opening the file, try renaming it to use the EML file extension instead. Most modern email programs only recognize email files that end with that extension, even though they might support EMAIL files, too. Changing the file's suffix to EML should let the program open it.

Another way you might be able to open an EMAIL file is with an online file viewer like the one at encryptomatic. However, it only supports EML and MSG files, so you should first rename the file as described above and then upload that file.

Renaming a file's extension like this doesn't actually convert it to a different format. If renaming works, it's because the program or website can recognize both formats but only lets you open the file if it's using a specific file extension (EML in this case).

You can open an EMAIL file without Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail by using a free text editor. This method lets you view the file as a text document, which is helpful if the majority of the email is saved in plain text, and you don't need access to the file attachment(s).

How to Convert an EMAIL File

We haven't tried it ourselves, but you might be able to convert an EMAIL file with Zamzar. However, just like the other tools mentioned earlier, this one doesn't support this old EMAIL format; rename it to *.EML first. Zamzar can convert that email format to DOC, HTML, PDF, JPG, TXT, and others.

It's also possible that the programs above can convert the EMAIL file to a different format, but it's likely that they only support EML and HTML.

Still Can't Open It?

If your file doesn't open properly, remember that a file with the EMAIL file extension is not just any generic "email file" that you get when downloading emails to your computer through any messaging program. Although "email file" and "EMAIL file" appear to mean the same thing, not all email files are EMAIL files.

Most email files (i.e., files you download through an email client) are not EMAIL files because that format is used only in older Microsoft email clients that most people don't use anymore. Modern email clients store the same information in a different format, usually EML/EMLX or MSG.

Something else to consider is that you might not have an email-related file at all. Some extensions, like MAL, could be confused for EMAIL even though the formats are completely different. MAL files are configuration files used by MadAppLauncher.

What Is an EMAIL File?

A file with the EMAIL file extension is an Outlook Express email file. It includes not only the message itself, but also any file attachments that were included when the email was received.

Screenshot of several EMAIL files in Windows XP that open with Outlook Express
EMAIL Files.

It's possible that an EMAIL file is associated with an old AOL mail program, too.

EMAIL files are rarely seen these days because newer email clients use other file formats to store messages in, like EML/EMLX or MSG.

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