How to Email a Folder

Attach and send folders in Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo!

Man working on laptop at a work table

Tyler Franta/Unsplash

If you try to insert a folder as an attachment in an email message, you're likely to receive an error message stating this option is not available. The best way to accomplish this is by compressing the files or uploading the folder to a cloud service. Learn how to email a folder in Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and most other email services.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, 8, and 7, as well as Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, Outlook for 365, Outlook Online, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail.

How to Compress a Folder

A zipped or compressed file is smaller in file size than its original version. Combining several files into one compressed folder makes it easier to send as an email attachment. Windows makes creating a zipped file super simple.

  1. Locate the folder you want to compress.

  2. Right-click the folder, then go to Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder.

    Screenshot of Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder
  3. Wait while a new folder is created in the same location as the original folder. The new folder will have the same name as the original folder with ".zip" added to the end.

    Screenshot of original and zipped folder

To rename the zipped folder, right-click the folder, select Rename, enter a new name, then press Enter.

Email a Zipped Folder in Outlook

As long as the folder doesn't exceed Outlook's default size limit of 20 MB (34 MB for Outlook.com), you can send the compressed file as an attachment.

  1. Start Outlook and open a new email message.

    Press Ctrl+N while in the inbox to open a new email message window in the desktop version of Outlook.

  2. Select Insert > Attach File. In Outlook.com, select Attach at the top of the message window.

    Screenshot of Attach File on Insert tab
  3. Select the compressed folder if it appears in the Recent Items list. If not, select Browse this PC to find and select the folder.

    Be sure to select the folder with the .zip extension.

  4. Complete and send the email message.

Email a Zipped Folder in Gmail

You can send messages up to 25 MB in size in Gmail. Provided your folder and the contents of your email are no larger than that, you can send a zipped folder as a Gmail attachment.

  1. Log into Gmail and select Compose to open a new email message.

  2. Select the Attach Files icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the message window.

    Screenshot of Attach Files button in Gmail
  3. Navigate to the folder you want to attach and select open.

    Be sure to select the folder with the .zip extension.

  4. Complete and send the email message.

Email a Zipped Folder in Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail limits the size of emails you can send at up to 25 MB in total size. Provided your folder and the contents of your email are no larger than that, you can send a zipped folder as a Yahoo Mail attachment.

  1. Log into Yahoo Mail and select Compose to open a new email message.

  2. Select the Attach Files icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the message window.

    Screenshot of Attach Files button in Yahoo Mail new message window
  3. Navigate to the folder you want to attach and select open.

    Be sure to select the folder with the .zip extension.

  4. Complete and send the email message.

Downloading and Decompressing the Files

Recipients of the zipped folder can download the attachment, then unzip the folder to access the files. To unzip files from a compressed folder:

  1. Right-click the folder and select Extract All.

    Screenshot of Extract All in right-click menu
  2. Select the destination in which you want to save the extracted files and select Extract.

    Screenshot of Select a Destination and Extract Files

    Select the Show Extracted Files When Complete checkbox to open the files after the folder is unzipped.

  3. Wait while the files are extracted. A new folder will appear in the selected destination.

How to Send a Folder By Email Using a Cloud Service

An alternative way to emailing a compressed folder is to upload the folder to a cloud storage service like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or DropBox.

Once you save the folder to your cloud drive, you can send your recipient a link to access the folder without giving them access to the rest of your cloud storage drive. Once the recipient receives your message, they click through the link to the folder and can access all its contents in the cloud.