How to Fix It When Attachments Aren't Showing in Outlook

Try these tips for when you don't see the email attachment

Sometimes it's hard to tell when you've correctly uploaded an attachment in Outlook. You may also occasionally have problems viewing attachments sent to you by others. Here's what to do when you can't see attachments in Outlook.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, and 2010 as well as and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

Causes of Missing Outlook Attachments

When you can’t see attachments in Outlook, the problem is usually associated with the app settings, your antivirus programs, or device limitations. A weak or overloaded internet connection can also cause Outlook attachments not to load properly. Trying to download multiple files at once or using other internet-intensive apps can also prevent attachments from loading.

A woman accessing Outlook emails on her laptop computer.

How to Fix Attachments Not Showing in Outlook

If you're having trouble adding or viewing email attachments in Outlook, try these tips:

  1. Check with the sender. The original sender may have not uploaded the files properly, or they may have forgotten to add them to the email in the first place. It's also possible that they emailed you a link to the file instead of attaching it. Send them a message and ask them to try sending the files again.

  2. Look for the paperclip icon. If you can't figure out how to upload an attachment in your version of Outlook, the option to attach files will always appear as a paperclip above or below the email compose box.

    If a message contains an attachment, a paperclip will appear next to the subject line in your inbox.

  3. Drag and drop files. If you can’t see the attachment option for whatever reason, you can attach files by dragging-and-dropping in Outlook. Locate the file you want to attach on your computer and drag it into the compose box.

  4. Use the pop-out option. If you’re trying to view attachments in an email while composing a reply, select Pop-Out in the message compose box. That way, you can see the original email and attachments while you compose your message in a separate window.

    In some versions of Outlook, the Pop-Out option appears as Open in new window or a box with an arrow popping out of the top-right corner.

  5. Reload Outlook. If you can’t see attachments in an email, close Outlook and re-open it, then view the email again. Sometimes this can force the program to redownload the files from the server.

  6. Check your internet connection. Your Outlook app may have downloaded the text of new emails while you were online; however, if you’re currently offline, the attachments probably won’t load. Make sure your device is connected to the internet or your data plan and try opening the email again.

  7. Select Show all. If you’re reading your emails on, you may have noticed that you can’t see all photo attachments in a message at once. This is so that the images don’t fill up the entire screen. Select Show all attachments under the visible photos to see them all.

  8. Disable your antivirus software. Antivirus programs can prevent email clients from loading attachments properly. This is generally a good thing since email attachments can contain computer viruses and malware, but they can also sometimes block legitimate files.

    Be sure to turn your antivirus software back on after viewing the attachments.

  9. Rename the file extension. Microsoft Outlook blocks attachments containing executable file types (e.g., EXE files). Microsoft has instructions for opening a blocked attachment in Outlook by changing the file extension in the Windows Registry.

  10. Use a file sharing service. Outlook limits the size of attachments to 20 MB by default. If you need to send large files like movies, software, or entire photo albums, use a file sharing service like OneDrive or Dropbox. Another popular option is Google Drive.

  11. Request changes to your Outlook security settings. If you’re using Outlook in a workplace environment, the security settings may be blocking attachments. These settings can especially affect those who are using Outlook via Exchange Server. If possible, ask the administrator or tech support to adjust the security settings for you.

  12. Use a messaging app instead. Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger let you send files to any of your contacts with just one or two taps. You can also share files over VoIP services like Skype and Line.

  • How do I forward an email as an attachment in Outlook?

    To forward an email as an attachment in Outlook, select the email you want to forward and go to the Home tab. In the Respond section, select More Respond Actions > Forward as Attachment. In the To box, enter the email address you're forwarding to, type a message if you want, and select Send.

  • How do I make an email attachment in Outlook?

    To attach a file to an email in Outlook, go to Message > Attach File or Insert > Attach File, depending on your Outlook version. Select your document, image, text, or other type of file to attach it to the message.

  • How big of an attachment can you send with Outlook?

    Outlook 2013 and later versions have an attachment size limit of 20MB. If you need to send a larger file, try uploading the attachment to a cloud service like OneDrive or Dropbox. You can then send a link to the file in an email.

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