Once new Internet users get the hang of using their Web browsers and email programs, nothing causes more frustration than file attachments.
An attachment is a file (any typea picture file, word processing document, anything) that's attached to an email message so that it travels along with the message. The person who receives the message can detach the file from the message and use it.
The following example shows how to attach a file to an email message in Outlook Express. You'll send that message to yourself, so you can also learn how to detach and use a file attachment you receive. Note that the steps are similar in Netscape Messenger.
In Chapter 13, you will learn about the risk of catching a computer virus from programs and other files you download from the Internet. Well, you can pick up a virus just as easily from an email attachment.
If you're like most people, most email attachments you receive come from people you know, so you may think that those files are safe. But what if your friend is just passing on a file they received from someone else, maybe a stranger? That's one way email viruses spread; innocent, well-meaning people catch them and spread them around.
You can use most major virus protection programs, such as Norton AntiVirus and McAfee VirusScan, to check email attachments for viruses. Just save the attachment as a file separate from the message (as described in step 5 of the following example); then scan the file for viruses.
DO NOT open the file (by double-clicking its file icon or right-clicking it and choosing Open or Run) until after you have scanned it for viruses and determined that it's safe.
To attach a file to an email message:
Compose and address your message (to yourself) as you normally would. Then click the Attach button (see Figure 5.17).
Figure 5.17. Step 1: Click the Attach button in a new message.
Use the dialog box to navigate to and select the file to attach, and then click the dialog box's Attach button (see Figure 5.18).
Figure 5.18. Step 2: Find the file, and then click the Attach button.
Send the message (see Figure 5.19). If you do not immediately receive it, click Send/Recv again to receive the message.
Figure 5.19. Step 3: Send the message.
Step 4 shows how to open a file attachment directly from the message, which is okay because you know the source of the file (you). But as a rule, unless you're very confident about the source of a file attachment, you should skip step 4, and instead do step 5 to separate the file from the message. Then you can use your virus-scanning software to check the file for viruses before you open it.
In the header of the received message, you'll see an icon and a filename representing the attached file. To view the file, double-click the icon (see Figure 5.20).
Figure 5.20. Step 4: To read the attachment in the received message, double-click the file's icon.
If you want to save the file separately from the message (for use later), right-click the icon, and choose Save As (see Figure 5.21).
Figure 5.21. Step 5: To save the file, right-click and choose Save As.