Why can't I receive any e-mail attachments?

Updated: 08/31/2020 by Computer Hope
Notification of new e-mail.

There are many reasons why your e-mail program may not be able to receive attachments. This page covers some of the more common reasons for attachments to not be received.

Not enough storage space

If the e-mail box is full of other e-mail messages and your storage space is limited to only a few megabytes, the attachment cannot be received. E-mail programs and e-mail service providers automatically reject incoming e-mails if there is not enough space available to store the e-mails.

If you do not have enough storage, the person sending the e-mail should get an automatic response indicating your mailbox is full or exceeded its allocated size.

If this is occurring, you may want to consider using an alternate e-mail service, such as Gmail, that allows several gigabytes of storage space.

Attachment is too big

Not all e-mail providers allow their users to send and receive e-mails with large attachments. To send or receive a file larger than 20 MB, we recommend using an online service to store the file and share the location in the e-mail.

Attachment extension is not allowed

Because computer viruses and other malware spread easily through e-mail, restrictions are often placed on certain types of e-mail attachments. For example, Microsoft Outlook protects its users by automatically disabling the below file extension types from being received in an e-mail.

.ad .adp .crt .ins .mdb .mde .msc .msp .sct
.shb .vb .wsc .wsf .cpl .shs .vsd .vst .vss
.vsw .asp .bas .bat .chm .cmd .com .exe .hlp
.hta .inf .isp .js .jse .lnk .msi .mst .pcd
.pif .reg .scr .url .vbe .vbs .ws .wsh

If the attachment is one of the above extensions, ask the sender to compress the file. They may need to password protect the file to prevent the e-mail program from removing the file in the zip file.

If you're attempting to send a file with any one of the above extensions, we suggest you do the same.

Attachment contains a virus

Make sure to scan the attachment you're attempting to receive or send for viruses. If the file is infected with a virus, trojan, or other malware, many e-mail servers automatically reject it to prevent their users from becoming infected.

Problems with you installed antivirus

If you have an antivirus protection program installed on your computer, make sure it is not causing the problem by temporarily disabling your antivirus.

E-mail provider does not allow attachments

Some companies and e-mail providers do not allow e-mail with file attachments to be sent or received by their users as a security precaution. Today, most e-mail providers allow attachments in e-mails, but you may want to verify with your e-mail provider that attachments are allowed with their e-mail service.

Attachment is not being added or sent correctly

There is a possibility that the attachment is not being added properly to the e-mail.

Problems with Microsoft Outlook

If you are using Microsoft Outlook as your e-mail client, and you are having problems with attachments, see our attachments in Microsoft Outlook troubleshooting guide.

Problem with e-mail client or web service

The e-mail client software or e-mail web service may not be functioning properly, causing attachments not to be received.

If using an e-mail client on your computer, try closing the e-mail program and restarting your computer to see if that solves the problem. If the problem persists, the e-mail client has possibly become corrupted and needs to be reinstalled to correct the issue.

If using a web-based e-mail service, check with the provider to see if there are server issues preventing attachments from being received. Sometimes, the service provider posts a note on the account homepage for each user, alerting them of system issues that could impact their ability to send or receive e-mail.