How to Preview Gmail Attachments Without Leaving the Message

You don't have to download every attachment

Man using a laptop that's sitting on a nightstand

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You can, of course, download the attachments that are sent to your Gmail account, but you don't have to.

Most file attachments can be previewed on the website so you can see the picture up-close, listen to the audio file, read the PDF (even if it's multiple pages long), watch the video clip, etc., and not have to save anything to your computer.

This is extremely handy since some file attachments don't really need to be saved. For example, if someone sends you a Word document that they want you to read over, you can just preview the attachment within the web browser and then reply to the email without ever having to download the file to your computer.

Email attachments are also easily integrated into Google Drive. If you don't want the attachment taking up space on your computer, you can save it directly to your Google account so it's stored online. This has the added benefit of letting you delete the email but still revisit the attachment whenever and wherever you want.

Some file types can not be previewed in Gmail. This might include ISO files, RAR files, etc.

How to Preview Gmail Attachments Online

  1. Place your mouse cursor over the attachment thumbnail. In Gmail, attachments are located at the bottom of the message just before the Reply and Forward options.

  2. Click anywhere on the attachment without clicking either of the two buttons. Clicking anything but the buttons will let you preview the attachment.

  3. You can now look at, read, watch, or listen to the attachment without downloading it. The close button is the back arrow at the top left of the preview screen.

There are several other options while viewing the attachment, depending on the format it's in. You can zoom up, scroll through pages, save it to your Google Drive account, print it, download it to your computer, open it in a new window and see its details, such as the file extension and size.

Large attachments may not preview in Gmail. If you find that you cannot preview an image, document, or video, you'll be required to download it to open it.

If you have different apps attached to your Google account, you can do other things too. For example, there's one app that lets you split PDF files. You could preview the PDF attachment on Gmail and then select that app to extract pages out of it.

How to Download Gmail Attachments

If you don't want to open the attachment, but instantly download it instead:

  1. Hover your mouse over the attachment.

  2. Click the download arrow to choose where to save the attachment.

Also remember what's written above in the previous section; you can download the attachments while previewing it too. However, the steps here are for downloading the attachment immediately without having to preview it first.

Save the Attachment to Your Google Drive Account

The last option you have when dealing with Gmail attachments is to save the file directly to your Google Drive account.

  1. Put your mouse over the attachment to see the download button and one other button called Save to Drive.

  2. Click that button to immediately copy the attachment to Google Drive for viewing later, emailing, sharing, etc.

How to Save Inline Images in Gmail

On occasion, you might get an email that has an image saved within the message but not as an attachment. These are in-line images that appear next to the text.

You can download these kinds of image attachments too, two different ways:

  1. Right-click the picture and choose Save image as. It might be called something similar in a browser other than Chrome.

  2. The other way is to left click the picture so that it opens in the attachment preview screen like a normal attachment. Click the Download button icon (the down arrow) from the top right of the screen.