How to Deal with Problems with Attachments

Many people encounter problems when trying to open attachments to emails that they have been sent. This article discusses the problems, how to deal with them and how to avoid creating problems when you send them.

Most frequent seem to be associated with word processed files (word files for short). The problem is that there are various word processors and each tend to produce a document in its own native format by default. If you are only using these on your own computer, you are not aware of the problem because you use the same word processor to read them and write them. It is when you send the document to someone else who uses a different word processor that the problem may arise. You may think that "Microsoft Word" is used by everybody and/or all versions of "Microsoft Word" use the same format, but this is not the case.

"Microsoft Word" is quite expensive these days although in the past, versions were distributed free with a new computer. Consequently people are now starting to use free word processors*, which though they are as good as the Microsoft version, have different native file formats. The users of Apple computers have a different word processor, and are becoming more numerous.

The solution to this problem is to use an international format referred to as "PDF" ( Portable Document Format ) which is commonly used for Manuals etc., and for which readers are readily available**. Your computer may have a reader installed already to allow you to read your computer manual. The difference between the PDF document and the "word" document, is that your word processor cannot usually read it. So you cannot edit it yourself.

Most modern word processors can produce PDF files. In the "file" menu, or equivalent, click on "save as" Instead of "save". Then in the box below the line where you can put in the file name, click on the "down" arrow to select PDF format. Alternatively, sometimes there is an "output as PDF" (or similar) option in the file menu which will do the job.

I will discuss dealing with incompatible formats in the next installment.

* For a good free word processor, try this.

**For a free PDF reader, Adobe reader is the standard.