Outlook Express: Saving embedding images

I often send attachments to Outlook Express users that receive the images as embedded, inline graphics, even though I sent them as attachments (there is no embed option on a Mac). If the user is just viewing the file, this is fine. If a user needs to save the file, it’s another annoying story. Where one should be able to right click the image and choose “Save as”, doing so will often cause an error. The user’s only choice is to copy/paste the image from the 72 dpi (low resolution) screen image and lose any quality they might have needed from the original file.

I’ve been researching and still don’t exactly know why this happens, but I have some ideas. I’ve read it has something to do with Internet Explorer 7. IE7 does something to Outlook that causes this error. If true, and it’s some bug, and it needs to be squashed.

The other thing I’ve read, which seems more likely is it is tied to the way the sending computer renders Rich Text (text with bold, italic, and other formatting) and how the receiving computer displays that same Rich Text. The receiving mail client tries to display the Rich Text and doesn’t know what to do with the image other than to place it inline — which leaves us back to the original problem of it being embedded into the email.

In the meantime, I have some tips for sending and receiving those files.

How to extract embedded images

Tips for the sender of attachments

  • Ask the sender to zip the image and resend. That should keep it as an attachment you can save.
  • Ask the sender to change their message to plain text when sending an attachment.

Tips for the receiver of attachments

  • Upgrade to a newer version of Outlook.
  • Resend the message to yourself:
    1. While in Outlook go to: Tools –> Options –> Send.
    2. Uncheck “Reply to messages in the format in which they were sent.”
    3. Forward the message to yourself. It should arrive in a format with attachment.
  • Use another version of Internet Explorer that isn’t 7 after you uninstall IE7. You may need to reinstall Outlook Express again.
  • Uninstall Internet Explorer, and install another browser (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, etc.) and use one of those to browse instead. You may need to reinstall Outlook Express again.
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Lena Shore

Lena is a full-time freelancer and nerd that specializes in web development, graphic design, and illustration. She enjoys building things, learning new things, pursuing creative endeavors, and giving free advice.

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