Trouble Saving Attachments in Outlook?

November 16, 2010, By Christian Cawley

A common work situation is to receive the same file via email again and again. This might be for a number or reasons – the document might be created automatically, for instance, with no means of controlling its filename, or you might have a colleague who isn’t that familiar with naming documents and the two of you have agreed that it would be simpler for them to just send the file upon creation.

However this can lead to problems, not just with the dangers of getting confused by what appeared to be the same file landing in your inbox week after week. Saving this file in Outlook – within the temp folder – might be necessary for you to process it. You might have to alter information in it before forwarding it on or running it through some other application, and using the Outlook temporary folder might be your chosen, de facto default location for saving the file to, simply for convenience.

Problems Saving to the Outlook Temporary Folder

Problems saving attachments with the same filename to the Outlook temporary folder occur due to a limitation in the email client concerning the number of attachments that is can handle with the same filename – it will only rename up to 99 times. So if you have received more than 99 attachments that you wish to save, you will receive an error message when you try to access the document informing you that the file cannot be opened. This is because the file itself hasn’t in fact been saved due to this limitation.

Another problem you will run into with saving any file to the Outlook temporary folder is that you will have trouble accessing it by any means other than through Outlook. The temporary folder is hidden by default, so even if you knew the file location opening it would involve making hidden files and folders visible.

To find the temporary folder, you will first need to open Windows Explorer (via Computer or go to Start > Search and enter Explore). In Windows Explorer go to Organize > Folder and search options and in the View tab select Show hidden files, folders, and drives. Click OK to continue; the box will close and the changes will be applied.

You will then need to find the Outlook temporary folder – this is found in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook. In this view you will be able to see all Outlook temporary files.

Identifying the Problem Files

The next step at this stage would be to take a look at how many files you have with the same filename followed by a number in square brackets, such as myfile[12].doc. If these files with the duplicated name plus a number are the files you have been saving from emails and using again, then the reason they can no longer be saved is because of the limitation explained above. At this stage you have these courses of action:

  • Begin saving in a sensible, dedicated folder, possibly in My Documents or on your network
  • Delete or move the problem files to a new location as suggested above
  • Clear your temporary internet files (this is done in Internet Explorer in Tools > Internet Options > General tab, look for Browsing History and click Delete)

Note that storing your data in a folder where it can be lost so easily by clearing your temporary files might cause you various problems with lost or missing data later on.

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