Winmail.dat Attachments

If you use the Windows desktop version of Outlook for sending and receiving emails, you might have come up against this problem at some point.

You can send emails to your colleagues (who are all using Outlook) without any problems. But when you email someone who is reading their email in Gmail, (or email software other than Outlook) all they receive is an attachment called winmail.dat and they don’t know how to open it to read it. What is going on?

Outlook and Winmail.dat

This happens because if Outlook is set up to send emails in rich text format, the details of how to display the email are stored in a file called winmail.dat. When the desktop version of Outlook receives an email with this attachment included, it knows what to do to display the email correctly. Other email software just sees it as an attachment and show it as just that. All a bit confusing for the person who receives the email and also confusing for the sender as they don’t understand why some people can read their emails and others cannot.

How to Remove Winmail.dat

Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this bugbear and here are the steps on how to do it:

In the desktop version of Outlook, click on the File menu which is located in the top left-hand corner of Outlook.

File option highlighted in desktop version of Outlook.

In the drop-down menu that appears, click on the line that reads “Options”. This should be visible near the bottom of the drop-down menu.

The file options menu highlighted in desktop Outlook.

When you click on “Options”, the Outlook options window will appear and look something like this.

The options window in desktop Outlook.

In this window, click on the line that reads “Mail” which is located on the left-hand side of the window.

The mail section highlighted in the Outlook options window.

The contents of the right-hand side of the window will change to show you various mail-related options. There should be a section titled “Compose messages”.

The compose messages area highlighted in Outlook's mail options.

In this section, click on the downward pointing arrow that is displayed to the right of the text that reads “Compose messages in this format”.

The compose messages dropdown highlighted in Outlook's mail options.

When you click on the arrow, a drop-down list of available choices will appear.

The available choices highlighted for compose message types in Outlook's mail options.

From this list, choose “Plain Text” if you want to send emails that have no formatting (such as words in bold or italics) or choose “HTML” if you want to send emails that do contain formatting. Basically, choose any option other than “Rich Text”.

When you have clicked on your choice, the drop-down list will close and your choice will now be shown in the field.

The chosen compose message type highlighted in Outlook's mail options.

Click on the “OK” button which is located in the bottom right-hand corner of the window.

The OK button highlighted in Outlook's mail options.

The changed settings will be saved and the window will close. You can now send emails to anyone and they will be able to read them and not receive any troublesome winmail.dat attachments.

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