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How To Attach a Document To An Email

Updated on March 24, 2013

How do I attach my assignment, music file, photos to my email and send it?

Once you've learned how to attach documents, you'll find that it's very easy. But figuring out that first step can be quite hard , especially if you are new to computers and inexperienced with the internet. On this page I have tried to explain how best to attach your files. Please ask any questions at the end, if you still don't understand what I'm talking about!

I work in a library, which comes with a large dose of tech support, and attaching documents to emails is one of the most common questions I get! Whether it's people wanting to share their holiday photos, or students trying to submit an assignment, or me showing them how to save their files as an email attachment, I usually get at least one person a day needing help uploading their files and sending the email.



If you're in a hurry, here is a quick overview of the steps involved in attaching a file to your email


  1. Find or save the document or file on the computer
  2. Open your email and start composing a new email
  3. Find the 'Attach' link or button and click it
  4. There will be a pop-up folder which will show your documents. Find your document or file in computer folders, select it (click on it) and click 'ok'
  5. Wait for it to upload and then send your email

Watch Videos: How To Attach and Send Files By Email - Watch example videos of how to attach files to your email from YouTube

There are quite a lot of walk-through tutorials on YouTube showing you how to attach and send a document in different email accounts. You can watch them here, or keep reading the steps and look through the screenshot images below, if you don't have the time for a video (or are at work!).

Please ask any questions you have at the end - even if you don't come back, the next person might need to know the answer!

Which Email Account is Your Main One? - Some email accounts are better than others - which is your favourite?

Which email account do you mostly use?

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Save Your File On the Computer First!

You do not need to have your word document or picture open to attach it to the email. In fact, this can actually interfere with uploading it.

SAVE the file somewhere you can easily find it - such as in "My Documents" or on the desktop.

What Kind of Files Can You Send by Email? - Any of them! As long as they aren't too big!

  • Music files (Mp3, wma, aac, or any of the others)
  • Documents (Your CV, your assignment, or just the story you're writing - this is also a good way to save a back-up for yourself)
  • Pictures! (artwork, family photographs, scanned images - jpeg is the best option because it's the smallest, but anything will work)
  • Anything else! It's all just data to the computer!

Step One

Open your email and find the 'attach' button

How To Attach A Document: Gmail - The paperclip attach link

The Paperclip is the symbol to 'attach' documents together with your email
The Paperclip is the symbol to 'attach' documents together with your email

Uploading a file in Gmail

How to find the link to attach a file in your Gmail account
How to find the link to attach a file in your Gmail account

Gmail is my preferred email provider. It's a bit more straightforward than Hotmail. As you can see, the link to Attach your document is very obviously right under the field for the Subject line and above your main message field. It has a little paperclip symbol next to it.

Be warned that you can change the settings to use different versions - e.g. Older, Basic HTML (for slow internet) - which will change how the uploading process acts, slightly.

Size limit 25 MBs

Attaching An Email: Hotmail - How to find the link to attach your file in Hotmail

Hotmail seems to be the most popular free email account I see, when people come and ask me for help. This may be because it's more popular with the casual-internet using, less computer literate crowd, or it could be because the 'Attach' link is actually hard to find!

While everything works the same way, when uploading your files, the size limit is quite small.

Size limit 10 MBs

Attaching an Email: Novell Groupwise - An example of how to attach an email in the Novell Groupwise email account

Attaching an email
Attaching an email

This is my work email - every email account looks different, and here, the button to attach your file is the paperclip symbol

Step Two

Choose the file you want to upload

How To Choose The File To Attach To Your Email in Novell - Once you click the 'attach' button, you should get a window into your files popping up.

Select a file to upload
Select a file to upload

Once this computer window appears, just click around until you find the folder you saved your document or picture in.

This is why it is important to save it somewhere that you can easily find again and with a name that you recognise.

If you can't find it, try opening the file again and re-saving it or click 'Save As' and look at where it opens up to.

Double click or click once and then press 'attach' 'ok' or 'upload' next to the address field down in the bottom section.

Step Three

Check it uploaded properly

If You Can't Upload Your Pictures - What else can you do if the file won't upload?

If you cannot attach your document because it is too large, or the internet connection is too slow, you have a few different choices.

  1. You can try again on a different computer
  2. You can try to make the file smaller - pictures and music tend to be very large, or you can send them separately if you are sending more than one.
  3. You can use one of the special hosting sites for large files (see below)
  4. You can save your work on a USB flash drive ('data stick' or 'USB' or 'flash drive' or 'USB stick') or CD-ROM and carry it away with you.

USB Flash Drives are the best way to carry your files around, and I tell all the students who don't have one, to get one. They act like another computer folder - once you plug them in, and wait for the computer to recognise them, you can find the USB stick folder by going to My Computer and look under Devices with Removable Storage for something that says 'USB' or "portable" or something with the brandname of the USB (you can rename them to say "Bill's USB Stick" or "My Flash Drive" or "That Thing With All My Assignments In").

They are small, so easy to carry with you everywhere, but you can lose them - it's a good idea to create a little document with your name and contact details, as losing all your assignments is a huge pain!

What size should you get?

Bytes are the little blocks of data used to measure storage space. In a flash drive, kilobytes (KB) means 1000 bytes, a megabyte (KB) is a 1000 times this and a gigabyte (GB) is 1000000000 bytes.

Pictures are large, and so is music - they can be up to 5MB. A three minute song, for example, can be 3.6 MB (quality varies). Two hours of music can be about 1 GB. But a normal word document will only be 100-200 KB.

The most convenient size is 2 GB. If all you ever use it for is documents, you won't need anything bigger. I like having an 8 GB flash drive because I carry a lot pictures and other odd things around.

Why Isn't My File uploading?

The most common problems with attaching files are either that the file is too big or the internet connection is too slow.

If the file is too big for your email account (e.g. 10 MB for Hotmail, 25 MB for Gmail) you will have to save it to a portable USB drive or a CD-ROM. Alternatively, you can upload it to an online hosting site such as YouSendIt or Sendspace.

If your internet connection is slow, you may simply have to wait.

What Attached Files Look Like in Gmail - How to tell if they have safely uploaded

This is what your files will look like after you have uploaded them to Gmail
This is what your files will look like after you have uploaded them to Gmail

You should always double-check the files have uploaded safely.

Once the document has been uploaded to your email, it is safe. You can send it or just leave it as a draft.This is also a good place to store back-ups of your documents.

What Attached Files Look Like in Novell? - Checking your file has uploaded

Select a file to upload
Select a file to upload

Attached files always look different - the above is an example of a different email account, using a picture - one of my artworks, actually (if you are interested in seeing some of my art, visit this page to see some of my artwork.

You can try saving the email as a draft or sending it to yourself, and opening the attached file to make sure it worked.

Did This Help You Figure Out How To Attach Your Document? - Did I help? Or are you still confused?

Did this page help you with uploading a file to your email?

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Your comment won't show up immediately - I find it easier to deal with, and read, comments by sending them to be approved by me first, so don't worry if yours disappears. If you send it again, that's okay too, I can delete the extra one.

Did This Help? - If you're still confused, or want me to add something, ask here - trust me, you can not ask the stupidest question I've ever been asked! (But y

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Well I basically know how to attach files but it is not fair about Gmail. Gmail only lets you attach up to 25 MB. I tried to attach a video but it was over 25 MB and..see it was a nice video that I wanted to send to a friend but it wasn't possible. I tried to look for a way to save the video to the email but that wasn;t possible either. I had a USB but it was somewhere else and I didn't have it with me so I was struggling to find a way.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      I wish I had been able to read this lens a couple of years ago - it took me ages to master the different ways of attaching things to emails, or inserting a picture direct onto the email without an attachment. Too late for me, but it is brilliant for people still learning

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 

      8 years ago

      Great lens, so much info for anyone needing it. Thumbs up :)

    • SquidooFanatic profile image

      SquidooFanatic 

      8 years ago

      very helpful - i like the screenshots, nice touch

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 

      8 years ago from Australia

      This looks like a very helpful step by step lens!

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