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How to pry open a winmail.dat file

by elliehowe / October 6, 2005 10:23 AM PDT

Hello! Once again I turn to my very patient experts...

I use Windows XP and MS Office 97. I get e-mails through AOL and hotmail. A client attached a file to an e-mail he sent simultaneously to both my screen names to be sure I'd get it. In both AOL and hotmail, the attachment is labeled: winmail.dat

In AOL, the text of the attachment appears in the body of the e-mail message, but I really need to see the graphs and charts in the original document which did not come through with the text. I cannot figure out how to open the winmail.dat file. The client says he received it as a winmail.dat file so he can't send it to me in any other format.

Thank you for any assistance you can give to me.


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Ed O'Daniel gave a nice reply to this
by MarciaB / October 6, 2005 10:42 AM PDT

a while back. Here's what he said:

Winmail.dat attachments are caused when the receiving client can not interpret Outlook's Rich Text Format. This would basically be every e-mail client other than Outlook. Send your messages in HTML or Plain Text format instead of RTF and the problem will not happen.

In your Tools | Options click the Mail Format tab and change it to HTML (or Text only). In your address book put a check in the "text only" check box for those not wanting to receive HTML mail (if you selected HTML previously).

Here is a KB article that explains what is happening:

Posted by: Edward O'Daniel (see profile) - 03/08/2005 10:51 AM
In reply to: Recipients are getting my attachments as .dat files by Supdev

Hope this helps you.

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I had found Ed's message earlier..
by elliehowe / October 6, 2005 1:49 PM PDT

Hi, Marcia!

I had found Ed's reply earlier today, but if I understood it correctly, it seemed to me that it was instructions about how to SEND an e-mail and attachment using Outlook to a recipient who does not have Outlook. My question is how I, as the recipient who does not use Outlook, can receive and OPEN an e-mail that originated in Outlook and is named winmail.dat

I also read the article on Microsoft's page (the link Ed mentioned) and it didn't seem to give me a solution to my problem either. It seemed to relate to how to SEND an e-mail to a above.

It's possible that I misunderstood what I read, though...

I appreciate your quick reply to my query!


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Let's try something much easier to
by MarciaB / October 6, 2005 10:25 PM PDT

understand than the MS knowledge base. Sometimes, IMO, they write as if they are creating a legal document. Happy

Here is something from another site that should help:
The Problem

Email users sometimes find that they receive email messages with a strange file attached, called winmail.dat. When they attempt to open this file, either it can't be opened at all, or it contains "garbage" data.

The situation causing this is that people are using several different email client programs to receive, read, and send email. The most commonly used email client programs at GPC seem to be Microsoft Outlook and Netscape (specifically the Messenger component), with a small minority of techno-geeks using Eudora. Unfortunately, Outlook does not "play nice" with the other email programs all the time. This causes problems, not for the sender of the email, but the recipient, particularly when actual files are attached to messages.

The Solutions
If you are receiving these winmail.dat files

I assume at this point that you are not using Microsoft Outlook as your email client program, since this wouldn't be a problem if you were using it.

One solution to the problem is to visit and download the WMDecode program found there (look about halfway down the page). This will at least allow you to decode the winmail.dat files and extract any useful attachments from them.

Other than this, there's not much you can do on your end to fix the problem, since it's not your email program generating the problem. If you just don't want to deal with the problem, the other approach is to reply to the individual who sent you the offending email and ask that they re-send the message, with the attached files, as a plain text message, not in Rich Text Format or HTML. If they don't know how to do this, you can, of course, refer them to this document!

Hope this helps you, Ellie.
Take care,

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You might
by PudgyOne / October 6, 2005 10:40 PM PDT

You might be able to open it with this program

It's free and it might help.

Hope this helps.

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Eureka! Thank You!
by elliehowe / October 7, 2005 12:24 AM PDT

Hi, Marcia!

You did it! I had downloaded the ''biblet'' program yesterday but couldn't get it to work--or I didn't think it had worked. Your suggestion made me go back and look at it again. Turns out it had converted my winmail file back to the original PDF! But it had ''stored'' it in a place that I hadn't thought to look, and this time I actually read the message that told me where it was stored. It's printing now, with all of the charts and graphs I needed.

Thank you! CNET members are the greatest!


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You're welcome
by MarciaB / October 7, 2005 12:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Eureka! Thank You!

and glad everything is working ok now. Happy

Thanks for letting us know.

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How do I open a winmail.dat on my new Droid phone?
by anotherusernameugh / November 20, 2011 2:34 AM PST
In reply to: You're welcome

Great string! But in checking "biblet," it doesn't look like it will help on my new "smartypants" phone. I just purchased the Droid Razr, and I am unable to view photos already sent to me from Outlook (rich or html - even in "plain text," it needs to be an "attachment," rather than an "inserted" photo). Is there a program for Google's too-smart-for-me phone? Thanks!!

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A workaround I use.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 20, 2011 2:52 AM PST

Since I can use in the web browser, I can view such there.

And let's repeat that winmail.dat is a sender's issue. That is, it's a mess created by you know who that created it.

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Android: Open an embedded email image.
by KenHusveg / November 20, 2011 3:24 AM PST
In reply to: A workaround I use.

To open an embedded email image in Android, press and hold the image. You will get a pop-up option to either save or view the image.

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Didn't work.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 20, 2011 3:31 AM PST

I didn't see this on the winmail.dat when I tried. At least it works on the web mail at

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(NT) anotherusernameugh wanted embedded images
by KenHusveg / November 20, 2011 4:12 AM PST
In reply to: Didn't work.
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You're right!
by anotherusernameugh / November 20, 2011 9:15 AM PST
In reply to: Didn't work.

GMail opened up the attached photo, just as it should, in spite of being from you-know-who's Outlook. Thanks!!

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Thanks, Bob!
by anotherusernameugh / November 20, 2011 9:04 AM PST
In reply to: A workaround I use.

I copy loud and clear!

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Good to read.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 23, 2011 4:08 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks, Bob!

Always nice when one of the workarounds works. They don't always work but nice when they do.

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