How to Forward an Email as an Attachment in Outlook.com

Forwarding an email to one or more other recipients or, perhaps, to yourself at another address is easy, of course, in Outlook.com. What if what needs to arrive at the receiving end is not (a version of) the original email's text (as chosen by Outlook.com) with a few headers thrown in but the full message as you received it—including all the header lines as well as all body parts and attachments?

This, usually done by sending the original message as an attachment that can be opened and read like any email by the recipient's email program or service, is useful for reporting spam, virus and phishing attempts, for instance, or to troubleshoot email problems.

Outlook.com, alas, does not have a function built in to forward a message as an attachment; it does not come with a function to save an email's full source for attaching either. You still need not resort to setting up your Outlook.com account in an email program On your desktop computer (or mobile device perhaps) just for full-copy forwarding: in a slightly roundabout manner, you can get the original message's source on disk and attach it, too.

Forward an Email as an Attachment in Outlook.com

To forward an email as a complete copy by attachment, first save it as an EML file to your computer or device:

  • Open, in Outlook.com on the web, the message you want to forward in full as an attachment.
  • Highlight the email's subject with the mouse.
  • Press Ctrl-C (Windows and Linux) or Command-C (Mac).
  • Click Actions in the email's header area.
  • Select View message source from the menu that shows.
    • You can also click on the message in the message list with the right mouse button and select View message source from the context menu that appears.
      (If you do that, do highlight and copy the email's subject in the source that opens.)
  • Click in the message source tab or window in your browser.
  • Press Ctrl-A (Windows and Linux) or Command-A (Mac) and verify the whole message source is highlighted.
  • Now press Ctrl-C (Windows and Linux) or Command-C (Mac).
  • Open a text editor (Notepad, TextEdit, Vi and Emacs all work, for instance).
  • Create a new plain text document.
  • Press Ctrl-V (Windows and Linux) or Command-V (Mac).
  • Verify the document now contains all of and only the message source you copied.
  • Save the document as a plain text file on your desktop, download or documents folder with the extension ".eml".
    • Highlight the text in the File name:, Name: or Save As: field.
    • Press Ctrl-V (Linux and Windows) or Command-V (Mac).
    • Append ".eml" to the string you pasted.
      • If the email's subject is "Sunday 03-12 Hockey on Track", for instance, the File name:, Name: or Export As: field should read "Sunday 03-12 Hockey on Track.eml".
        (If your text editor or operating system refuses to save a file with that name, you can use something as simple as "email.eml", of course.)
    • Make sure the extension is solely ".eml"; if your text editor appends ".txt" automatically, try choosing "All Files" as the file type; if your text editor proposes appending ".txt", tell it not to do so (and use .eml instead).

To forward the email, then, as an attachment in Outlook.com using the .eml file you created:

  • Open the email you want to forward as an attachment again in Outlook.com in your browser.
  • Click Actions.
  • Select Forward from the menu that comes up.
  • Highlight everything in the message composition window following your Outlook.com signature.
    • That includes a horizontal line, a few header lines from the original message as well as the original message's text.
  • Press Del or Backspace.
  • Click Insert in the message's toolbar.
  • Select Files as attachments from the menu that has appeared.
  • Find and double-click the .eml file version of the email you saved before.
    • You can, of course, save multiple messages as .eml files and attach them all to the same forward. Do make sure the emails really belong together, however, or an important message may be missed or recipients confused.
  • Address the forward using the To, Cc and Bcc fields.
  • Now address each recipient by name in the message body laying out how the forward is relevant to them and why you forward it to them.
  • Click Send.

Note that some email programs may not display the attached message to their recipients. Saving the .eml attachment to an .eml file on disk and opening that in an—usually the same—email program will usually work. If you are unsure, you can include that information in your email.