WORKING ON OUTLOOK ATTACHMENTS

If you open an email attachment from Outlook and intend to work on it – edit a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, for example – the first thing you should do is click on “Save As” and save a copy of it wherever you normally store files.

When you open an email attachment directly from Outlook, it uses a temporary folder on your hard drive to hold a copy of the file. The temporary folder is deeply hidden, locked up with security restrictions, and not intended ever to see the light. If you work on the attachment and save your changes to the copy in that temporary folder, there is a good chance that you will lose all your work.

The temporary folders are usually in these locations:

  • Windows XP / Outlook 2003: C:Documents and SettingsUserNameLocal SettingsTemporary Internet FilesOLK<series of numbers>
  • Windows XP / Outlook 2007: C:Documents and SettingsUserNameLocal SettingsTemporary Internet FilesContent.Outlook<random letters and numbers>
  • Windows Vista: C:UsersUserNameAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesContent.Outlook<random letters and numbers>

Very occasionally, I can find a file that was opened from Outlook, edited, and saved unknowingly in one of those temporary folders. It’s arduous work to find the edited file and there’s no guarantee of success.

Don’t lose work! Open the attachment and immediately click on Save As and turn it into a file stored in My Documents, or in the shared folder on the server, or somewhere it can be found later. Then work for hours and hit Save with confidence that your work won’t be lost if Word crashes unexpectedly.