Email Attachments

You get a new PC or one that has been reloaded. You set up your email program. Now you get a message from a friend with an attachment in it but when you click on it you are asked for the program to use. What has happened? Is the computer not working? Is email broken? Did a virus mess up the email?

The usual answer to this question can be looked at two ways. The person who is sending your the attachment is sending one that is of a type you’re computer has never seen before or that a program that was previously on your PC hasn’t be loaded or reloaded on the PC.

Let’s look a little bit into how the computer operates. Your PC (or Mac) basically has two things in it programs and data. The data is the interesting stuff that you, or your friend, put together to do something interesting. Data can be an email you typed to a friend, pictures of the baby, music you downloaded, a spread sheet to keep track of household expenditures or an email, picture you received from someone. Anything you type into the computer, read, print or feed into your MP3 player is data.

Data by it self is useless. It is like a CD (or phonograph) without the player (record player). The music is there but without something to play it you can’t enjoy it. That is what programs do in the computer. The programs “play” the data.

When you double click on the icon for the picture of the baby the system looks to see what kind of data that icon has. Since its a picture it will bring up a program that will “play” the data in the picture file and show it on your screen. The same goes for all other types of data. Letters you typed could bring up the Microsoft Word program. Music data could start iTunes. Each type of data is “played” by a different program. The opposite is also true: each program “plays” certain types of data.

 Back to our original problem. The attachment in the email is just some data. If the computer doesn’t have the program to “play” that type of data it complains and ask you for help. The trick here is that you have to find out what program will “play” that data. You can do that by asking your friend or by right clicking on it and clicking on “properties.” The next step is to find a program that will “play” that type of data.

Most types of data you are likely to encounter can be played with free programs. These can be downloaded and installed from the vendor that created the program that your friend used to create the attachment. Don’t just search for a program to play your data. More likely than not you will get a program that has been tampered with to include viruses.

So if your attachments are not playing. Find the program that will play that type of data. Install it and you will be enjoying your computer even more.


Leave a Reply