Okay, so you just got your new digital camera
and now you want to share the photos of your last
vacation with everyone you know. But if you've
never sent a file via e-mail before, the process may
seem somewhat mysterious. The trick you need to know
is that in e-mail lingo, a file you send is called an
So while you are composing a message, look on
the menus and in the online help for something similar
to that word. Press F1 to access help and do a search
on attach or attachment and you should find out
the procedure for your particular e-mail software. For
example, in Outlook Express, the command you need
is on the Insert menu — you choose Insert, then
File Attachment. I use a shareware e-mail program
called Calypso and it has the attachment command on
its Options menu instead.
In any case, you may need to do a little
sleuthing to find the right command in your program.
After you choose the command, you see a dialog box
that lets you look for a file on your hard disk (see
Figure 1. Select the file to attach.
Click the file to select it and click OK. Your file
is now attached to the e-mail. After that, you just
send it like any other e-mail.
For some people, finding the file you want to
attach can be the most difficult part. It's easy to
pay too little attention when you save files on your
hard disk. But when you attach a file, you are forced
to spend some time navigating your hard disk to find
it. This exercise can be disheartening when you
realize that your disk organization is pathetic at best. In
the computing world, neatness counts. If you want to
retain your sanity, it helps to keep your files
organized in an orderly fashion on your disk.
Here are a few hints on how your disk is
arranged. The basic idea is that your hard disk is like a big
file cabinet called C. Folders are stored in the file
cabinet. But the difference between the virtual folders
on a computer and real folders is that on a
computer, folders can be inside other folders (for example,
you could have a folder called My Pictures inside the
My Documents folder). So, suppose you are a
freelance writer who writes pet care articles for a living.
You save your documents in a folder called
"articles." The path to get to the folder would be
C:\articles. Conversely, if you put all your Microsoft Word
files together, they might be in C:\Word\articles.
My Documents is Windows' catch-all folder. Some people put all their stuff in that one folder, sort
of like throwing everything in a big box on the floor.
When you are attempting to attach a file to an
e-mail and it seems like you're lost somewhere deep
in your hard disk, try clicking the Up One Level
button, which looks like a little file folder with a bent
arrow. As you keep clicking, you go up in the folder
hierarchy. To go down in the folder hierarchy, you
double-click a folder name.
If it's difficult to find the files you want to
attach, you can make it easier on yourself by creating a
new folder just for those files. You can create your
own folders to organize your files and name them
anything you want. For example, on my hard disk, I copy all my attachments to a folder called
Upload. To create a new folder, open Windows Explorer
and choose File|New|Folder from the menu (see
Figure 2. Create a new folder to help you keep track of your attachments.
Explorer then creates a new folder in
whatever drive or folder you had selected (so you do need
to pay attention where you were in the hierarchy
before you run the command, or you'll lose track of
your new folder).
When you send files, consider the recipient. I
might love that great photo of your dog, but on a
dial-up connection, I don't want to wait 20 minutes for it
to download. Also some people have Internet
Service providers that actually won't let large files
go through. To keep your friends happy, keep your
files as small as possible. Use your favorite image
editing program to reduce the file size and resolution.
You can also shrink graphic files by saving them in
compressed formats such as JPG or GIF. Another trick
is to use a program like WinZip to compress a
whole bunch of files together into one smaller
package. WinZip (www.winzip.com) is a shareware
program you can find on the Internet and is widely used
by those who spend a lot of time on the Internet
(see Figure 3).
Figure 3. Learn how to use Winzip.to compress attachments.
Open Attachments with Caution
A sad reality of computing today is that it's not
necessarily safe to open the attachments you receive.
Many viruses travel around the internet via e-mail
these days. Even if you know the person the e-mail
came from, treat every file you receive with caution.
(Some viruses send e-mail without the sender's
knowledge.) Scan any file you receive with your anti-virus
software before opening it (see Figure 4).
Figure 4. Get and USE anti-virus software.
start double-clicking willy nilly, or you may regret it.
Note that the most dangerous files are likely to end with
an .exe, .vbs, or other file extension that is used to
actually run a program. You also should watch out for
attached Microsoft Word documents. Viruses can
lurk in those files as well. The best advice is, "when
in doubt, don't." If you are worried about an
e-mail from someone you don't know, just delete it.
The ability to send and receive files opens up
a whole knew world of communication. With only a little effort on your part, it's easy to start sharing
files with everyone you know.