Updated: 08/02/2020 by Computer Hope
E-mail attachment

With e-mail, an attachment is a file sent with an e-mail message. An attachment can be a picture, Microsoft Word document, movie, sound file, Excel spreadsheet, or any other file.

Are attachments safe to open?

Attachments may also include computer viruses, trojans, worms, or other malware. Unless you were expecting an attachment from the person sending you an e-mail, we suggest not opening the attachment even if it's from someone you know. Viruses and worms can use address books to help spread the virus and make the e-mail that carries the virus appear to be valid.

What does the attachment icon look like in e-mail programs?

Icons for adding attachments to an e-mail

All e-mail programs and services are different. However, the de facto standard for the attachment icon is a paper clip. Below is a picture of the attach files icon in Google Gmail.

Gmail attach icon

Icons showing attachments on an e-mail received from another user

Here are a few examples of what e-mail attachments look like in the body of a message.

Email attachments in various webmail services

Why would I need to send an attachment?

E-mail is primarily used to send text messages to other users on the Internet. If you need to send pictures, movies, documents, PDF's, or any other file you would need to attach that file to an e-mail. For example, when applying for a job you may attach your résumé to an e-mail message sent to a company.

E-mail, E-mail terms, Internet terms, Security terms