How To Share Files Using Email

What file types can I send through email?

Files types that can be sent via email:

File Format File Extension
Word Document .DOC/.DOCX
PowerPoint .PPT/.PPTX
Portable Document Format .PDF
Images .JPG/.JPEG
Images .PNG
Images .BMP
Images .GIF
Images .TIF/.TIFF
Photoshop Document .PSD
Illustrator .AL
Text .TXT
Rich Text .RTF
Excel Spreadsheets .XLS/.XLSX

What is the Benefit Of Sending Files Through Email?

Sending files through email is one of the oldest file sharing practises, its continued use suggests that there must be some benefits of using this method of file sharing.

These benefits of sending files through email include:

  1. Financial – Sending files through email is more cost effective as it is cheaper than mailing or hand delivering files due to the lack of delivery costs. Sending digital documents also eliminates the need to print files, saving money on paper and ink ect.
  2. Environmental – the restricted use of resources such as: ink, paper and envelopes ect allows companies to decrease their Carbon footprint; especially if they share a large quantity of files, making communication and file sharing more environmentally friendly.
  3. Speed – Sending files via email can be done a lot faster than traditional methods of sending files: such as posting, faxing or sharing documents face-to-face. This efficiency allows for essential time saving and therefore increases productivity as standard processes are sped up.
  4. Availability – In this modern age, people tend to have access to their emails on any device, whether that be: desktop, tablet or mobile. This therefore makes files more available as they can be accessed from any location.
  5. Recording Correspondence – Email inbox’s show records of sent and received mail, which can be easily accessed, this allows for files to be quickly re-visited or re-stored if needed. It also allows for previous email chains to be easily found, which could be useful for refreshing memory or for protection in legal disputes.
  6. Collaboration – Sharing files via email allows for multiple people to work together in projects, with email chains presenting a flow of communication between several individuals, providing them all with access to the same files and information.
  7. No Geographical Limitations – Files can be shared internationally in an instant, with email allowing a person to share documents without the worry of the distance of the recipient, which is something that traditional methods such as mailing could not offer.

What are the Disadvantages of Sending Files Through Email?

  1. File Size Limits – Emails cannot typically contain large files as file size limits are in place, restricting users to sending only small or compressed files.
  2. Software Requirements – Some attachments will require additional software to be downloaded. If a file is sent in a specific format, both the sender and the recipient will require that software in order to open the document. For example, if you receive an Excel spreadsheet, you will need the Microsoft Excel software in order to open the spreadsheet.
  3. Download – Attachments take time to download, they also require a well connected internet connected in order to download, which may not always be available to the recipient.
  4. Viruses – the most common way that computer viruses are spread is through email attachments.
  5. User Error – there is always the risk that when sharing files via email you could enter the recipients email address incorrectly, thus there is the potential for an email that could contain confidential files or information to get sent to the wrong person. By entering the email address wrong it also prohibits the intended recipient from receiving the file, slowing down any file sharing as the email will have to be re-sent.
  6. Storage – An emails inbox has limited storage space, so if email with large files attached are being shared then there is the potential that data storage will reach the limit, so then files and emails would have to be deleted in order to free up space.
  7. Junk Mail – When an email is sent, its contents are scanned by your provider for attributes of junk mail, so that your inbox knows to put it in your junk mail folder. However, If your email or attachments coincidentally contains likeness to spam mail, it could be put in your junk mail inbox by accident, resulting in the recipient missing the email and thus not seeing the file you have shared with them.

How do I send a file as an attachment in Gmail?

The universally recognised symbol that indicates the ‘attach a file’ feature is a paperclip. All email providers offer the option to add an attachment to an email, but due to personal preference I will be using Gmail to demonstrate.

How to attach a file in Gmail:

  1. Log into your Google Account and launch the Gmail platform.
  2. Navigate to your Gmail inbox.
  3. Select the ‘Compose new email’ button.
  4. On the blank template message that appears, within the menu bar click the paper-clip icon that says “Attach file”.
  5. Your local area will then pop up, and from here you can find the file you wish to attach to your email.
  6. Once your file is selected, click ‘Open’ to attach your file to the email.
  7. Then complete composing the rest of your email and Send.

How do I send multiple file attachments in Gmail?

The process of sending multiple files within an email is similar to sending a single file as an attachment, all it includes is a few extra clicks! This is something that is available across all email providers, but again due to personal preference I will be using Gmail.

How to send multiple files via Gmail:

  1. Launch the Gmail platform and log into your account.
  2. Within your Gmail inbox, then click ‘Compose New Email’.
  3. Similar to sending a single file, using the menu bar select the “Attach file” paperclip icon.
  4. Once your local area appears, navigate to the files you wish to attach.
  5. To select multiple files, if you’re on a Windows device hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and if you’re on a Mac then use the Command Key (Cmd), and click the multiple files that you wish to insert.
  6. Once the desired files are selected, click ‘Open’ to attach them to your email.
  7. Compose the rest of your email and press Send.

How to send a photo as an attachment in Gmail?

To send a photo as an attachment in Gmail:

  1. Log into your Google account and launch your Gmail inbox.
  2. Click ‘Compose New Message’.
  3. Within the new blank template, click the ‘Insert photo’ option that is present within the bottom task bar.
  4. In the bottom of the pop up window that appears, you are presented with the option to insert the photo as an attachment or an inline photo, select ‘attachment’.
  5. Then at the top of the window are tabs that let you select the source of your photo, either attach it by uploading it from your computer or by using a URL. To insert photos from your local area select ‘Upload’.
  6. Then from your local area find the photo you want to insert, select it and then press ‘Open’.
  7. It then attaches your photo to the email, so simply continue to compose the rest of the email and press ‘Send’.

How to send a photo within the body text of an email?

As well as sending a photo as an attachment, you can also send a photo in an email as an ‘inline image’, this inserts the image into the main body of the email. The process to this is similar to the way in which you send a photo via an attachment, the only difference is the settings you select when inserting the photo.

How to send an photo in the body of an email using Gmail:

  1. Log into your Google account and launch your Gmail inbox.
  2. Click ‘Compose New Message’.
  3. Within the new blank template that appears, click the ‘Insert photo’ icon that is present within the bottom task bar.
  4. In the bottom of the pop up window that appears, you are presented with the option to insert the photo as an attachment or an inline photo, select ‘inline’.
  5. Then at the top of the window are tabs that let you select the source of your photo, either attach it by uploading it from your computer or by using a URL. To insert photos from your local area select ‘Upload’.
  6. Then from your local area find the photo you want to insert, select it and then press ‘Open’. From here it will immediately show your image within the main body of the new email.
  7. Finally, continue to compose the rest of the email and press ‘Send’.

Can I attach an entire folder to an email in Gmail?

Despite other email servers enabling the sharing of folders as an attachment, this is not something that Gmail supports. Gmail only allows files to be attached to an email, thus you would either have to attach each file from within the folder individually to the email, or you can compress the folder into a single file so that it can be attached.

How can I compress a folder so that it can be attached to an email?

As folders cannot be attached to an email within Gmail, it is advised that you compress your folder to a .zip file so that it can be attached. To do this you need a file compression software, some of the most popular file compression software’s include:

  • 7Zip
  • WinZip
  • StuffIt
  • Peazip

How to compress a folder using 7Zip:

  1. Search for the 7Zip software online, then once it has downloaded proceed to launch the software.
  2. Once the software has launched, navigate to the folder that you wish to compress in the replica of your local area that appears.
  3. Right click the chosen folder, and select the ‘7Zip’ subheading that appears.
  4. Then on the drop-down that appears from the ‘7Zip’ heading, select the ‘add to *filename*.7z’ option. From here a copy of your folder will be made and it will be transferred into a Zip file format within your local area.
  5. Now when attaching a file to an email, select the .zip file version of the folder and attach that instead.
  6. Proceed to compose your email and send.

Are there file size limits when sending files through email?

Yes, all email providers have some sort of file size limit when sending files through email. These may also differ depending on the type of account that is held with the provider, ie : Business, Paid and free accounts.

Below are some of the most popular email providers and their limitations:

Email Provider File Size Limit
Gmail File attachments are limited to 25MB.
Gsuite File attachments are limited to 25MB. To send attachments larger than this it is advised that GoogleDrive is used.
Outlook.com File attachments have limits of: 10MB for free accounts, and 25MB for paid accounts.
Yahoo Mail The email as a whole must not exceed 25MB in total, this includes both the email text and the file attachments.
Zoho Mail All files collectively should not exceed a 20MB limit.
Mail.com The limit of file attachments are 50MB.
AOL Mail 25MB in total size.
Proton Mail The email as a whole must not exceed 25MB and only 100 attachments can be added.
i-cloud Mail 20MB, including all text and attachments.

Why are there file size limits when sending files through email?

File attachment limits are implemented in order to stop email servers being bombarded, as without these limits the provider’s servers are at risk to stop functioning effectively due to the large amount of information that would be sent to the server at one time.

What happens if I exceed the file size limit when sending an email?

If you send an email that exceeds either yours or your recipients limit, your email will bounce and you’ll receive an error message. It is therefore advised that you find an alternative method to send the large file, either by using a cloud based software; such as Google Drive or OneDrive, or by splitting up or compressing your file.

How do I know if an email attachment contains a virus?

There are often obvious signs that emails or email attachments contain viruses, these include:

  1. Attachment File Type – Certain file types can run code on your computer when activated, some of these include: .pif, .cmd, .hta and .reg. Therefore it is advised you avoid opening files that contain file extensions that you are unfamiliar with.
  2. Sender – The email address of the sender of the email is a pretty good indication of whether its contents may contain a virus. If an attachment has been unexpectedly sent from an address that you do not recognise then it is advised that you do not open it.
  3. Alerts – Your email provider automatically scans your attachments, thus if it alerts you of a dangerous or suspicious attachment then trust your antivirus software and do not download the file.
  4. Phishing – the actual contents of the email itself may be strange. For example, emails asking for money or any personal banking information tend to be used by hackers in order to obtain personal information. Do not send any information without confirming the legitimacy of both the issue and the sender.

Can I get a virus just by opening an email?

Historically, computers could get infected with malware simply by opening an email and reading its contents. However, with the development of technology this is no longer the case and computers cannot be infected simply by opening an infected email, but opening an email attachment can still initiate the virus to run on your computer without the need for us to download it, simply viewing the attachment can run the malware software. Thus it is advised that you don’t open an attachments that you are not expecting.

Why does mail go into my junk folder?

Email providers have massively clamped down on spam emailing, however sometimes their filters are not always correct and legitimate mail will end up in the junk folder by accident. If emails or their attachments contain similar attributes to spam emails then they will be filtered straight into the junk mail inbox, some of these attributes include:

  1. The email has no subject line.
  2. The emails subject line is enticing, such as ‘You have won £1000’.
  3. The email attachment is suspected to contain a virus.
  4. The sender is not in your contacts/ is a blocked sender.

How can I stop mail going to my junk folder?

If a particular individuals emails keep getting sent to your junk folder, ensure they are not a blocked sender, and add their address to your address book or your safe senders list. By doing this it confirms to the email provider that you are expecting their emails and trust them.

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