One of the main reasons we have a PC is for e-mail, so when that’s not working right, it’s a big problem. Lyn  writes “New computer, windows 7, Open Office. I cannot open email attachments.  I’ve search around and cannot find where I can fix this problem. can you help? I managed to find a place I could set up Open Office, but it still does not work.”

Hi, Lyn.  Thanks for the great question.

Two things that you didn’t tell us is what kind of e-mail attachments you’re trying to open, and which e-mail server you’re using.  It can be irritating to try to open an e-mail attachment and not be able to.

I’m guessing from your question that you are trying to open attachments that were made for Office or Open Office, such as Word documents or Excel spreadsheets.  If that’s the case, then Open Office should be able to display most of these file types just fine.

When you go to open your attachment, you should get the option to either open the attachment or save it to your hard drive.  The screenshots here are for Gmail, if your mail server is different, they may look different, but the options should still be there.  In Gmail you have the option of saving your attachment to Google Docs as well.


The options that you see here from left to right are download, show in drive (which is the same as VIEW) and edit with Google Docs.  Your best option is probably the DOWNLOAD option (this may be called SAVE AS in your mail server).  If you click this, you’ll get a screen giving you the option of what to do with your file.  It looks like this:


You are given the choice to either open the attachment with a specific program or to save the file.  If you save it, it will save to your designated download directory.  Then you can simply find the attachment and open it with Open Office.  If you choose to open it with Open Office, then click the arrow next to Microsoft Word, click OTHER.  You will get a new window that shows the programs that can open this file.


You see in my example screenshot that Open Office Writer is the third choice that I have.  If you do not have that as one of your options, then simply click BROWSE and find Open Office on your hard drive.  This type of program will usually be listed in your Windows directory under either PROGRAMS or PROGRAMS (x86).  Once you find it, double-click on Open Office, then click OK.

If you are trying to open another file type besides Office, then you simply have to choose which program to open the file with.  For example, if it’s an image document (.jpeg, .bmp etc.) then you might choose Paint.

Once you open the file in your chosen program, simply save the attachment wherever on your hard drive that you want and the file type.  One important note if you’re using Open Office.  If you choose to save it as an Open Office file, you will ONLY be able to open it using Open Office.  I would recommend saving it as an Office file type.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer