How to Decode Email Attachments

If running either a Windows or Mac operating system, your computer comes with its own "zip file" decoding program (like "WinZip" for Windows or "RAR Expander" for a Mac). These will decompress most file attachments, but not all. If you have a file extension your computer cannot handle, you will need to download another program (see Resource 1 or 2).

Video of the Day

Apple Hopes For Strong Christmas Season
credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Decoding Email Attachments


Download, setup and install an "Expander" (see Resource 1 or 2) if your computer does not already have one. Now you can open (or "unzip") your attachment files.


Right-click on the attachment icon below your email heading. Scroll down and click on "Open With." Choose your compression program.


At the pop-up screen, choose whether you'd like to "Open" or "Save" your downloaded files.

Your "decoding" or "compression" software should automatically choose a program to open your file with, once it is "expanded." If not, you may have a file that your computer is not compatible with (see Warnings 2).

Show Comments