Why do email and attachments show up as unreadable strings?

Question

Sometimes I receive an email and get the message, "too large for note pad, do you want to go to word pad...when I say yes and word pad comes up..the message is all coded and I am unable to read it...?

Answer

This question was answered on June 24, 1999. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The Windows operating system identifies files by their file extension The file extension is the three letters that follow the period in a file's name For example "myletter.doc" is a word processing file identified by the .doc extension, "BudgetSpreadsheet.xlx" is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet identified by the .xls extension, and "SomePicture.jpg" is a JPEG file identified by the .jpg extension When you open a file by double clicking on it, the Windows operating system checks the file extension It uses that information to determine which program to use open up that file The relationship between the file extension and the program used to open it is called a File Association.

What this means is that the email or attachments you are receiving need to be 1 in a format your computer knows and 2 need to have the correct software in your computer linked to the three dot extension such as .doc in your computer 3 and you need to know the extension to set up the link An analogy for this would be that you are receiving an email in spanish, so your computer must use the spanish translator to make it comprehensible to you and you do this by:

First open Explorer To do this find the icon named MyComputer on your desktop ( this is assuming that you haven't changed the name of MyComputer to something else ) Right click on the icon and select "Explore" from the pop-up menu A window with the title "Exploring" will open To make it easier to identify files extensions, click on "View" at the top of the "Exploring" window and select "Options" In the "Options" window that opens, uncheck the box beside the words "Hide MS-DOS file extensions for file types that are registered" by clicking in the box (If there isn't a check in the box than do nothing) Click on OK Go to a folder that contains the email or attachment file you want to open Now hold down the "Shift" key and right click on the file you want to open In the pop-up menu select "Open with" This will open a window called "Open With" Use the scroll bar to scroll down until you see the program you wish to use to open this file and select it with the mouse If you want to change the File Association so that this program will always open up this type of file (i.e., .jpg extensions), check the box beside "Always use this program to open this type of file" and click on the OK button If you leave the box unchecked, then only in this instance will the file be opened by the program you selected.

p.s If you don't usually like to see the file extensions when using "Explorer" just go back to "View" - "Options" and check the "Hide MS-DOS file extensions..." box again

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on June 24, 1999