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Attachments ... File Extensions ... Viruses & Hoaxes ... E-Mail Shorthand ...
Questions Answers
1. What is an "Attachment"?
  • It is a document (or image or other file) linked to an email message; it acts like a rider and is transmitted along with the message.
  • Some people describe an email as being like a postcard.   Then "attaching a file" would be like glueing the postcard to the outside of a box -- you can read the message just by looking at it; but you have to "unpack" the box before you can know what's inside!

  • 2. How do e-mailed "attachments" cause problems?
    In at least two ways:
    1) Attachments (even if from someone you know) are sometimes not what they say they are but are viruses created by unscrupulous programmers. See the answer below about viruses.

    2) The sender of the attachment has different software (or different versions) from what the recipient hard drive has installed. When this happens the recipient may not be able to open the attachment at all, Or their computer may not recognize the suffix type of the attachment.


  • The proper way to attach a word processing document: The sender should save any attachment as an "RTF" before attaching it to an email. This is done by opening the document in your regular word processing program and choosing "Save As" (from the Edit menu) and selecting "RTF" or "Rich Text Format" or "Exchange Format" (from the Kind or Type choices, usually a dropdown menu near the bottom of that dialog box). This creates a different document (with the suffix .rtf) which ANY word processor on ANY kind of machine can open and read.

  • If you know that the problem is just a matter of the sender and recipient having different versions of the same software: If the sender has a new version of Word (for example) but the recipient has an old version, the sender should save the attachment as an earlier version- this is done in the "Save As" window.

  • When it is the recipient who has the newer version there should be no problems.

  • If one wants to attach an image file: The sender should save any image as a common file-type before attaching it to an email. JPEG, JPG, and GIF are readable by the browser. Many other file-types are readable by most graphics programs; so if your recipient is "into" graphics, they can probably handle whatever you send. If they say they can't open your file, try converting it to the most common photo type -- JPEG -- with the correct suffix -- ".jpg" -- before sending it.

  • The cardinal rule for attaching a desk-top-publishing file, or any other type of file, is for the sender to clearly provide the recipient with the file's name along with the program name and program version number (also to say Windows, Mac, etc.) for the software application program that was used to create the attached file. (Software application programs are things like Word, Word Perfect, Claris Works, Excel, FileMaker Pro etc.)

  • When the recipient does not have any compatible software there is not much that can be done.

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    3. How can I find out what a file extension (suffix) means ?
  • From Carol H.
    Suffixes (extensions to the name of a file) generally give a clue to the type of file. For example: .doc indicates a document file expecially in a Windows environment; .xls indicates an Excel file; .gif, .jpg, .eps, .pict, .tiff are all image files some of which will open in your web browser while others will require an image program.
    Try these links which have basic definitions to give you a hint:
    http://support.dreamscape.com/filex.html, and http://www.learnthenet.com/english/html/34filext.htm

    4. Where can I go on the Web to check out Internet hoaxes and scams?
  • From Anne H. on 8/4/2000
    I usually go to the Symantec Antivirus Research Center site at www.symantec.com/avcenter/. This site has up-to-date information about both real and hoax viruses.
    I also use http://datafellows.com/virus-info/hoax/
  • From Lois R. on 8/6/2000
    "The Sacramento Bee newspaper printed an article about "hoax" virus warnings, chain letters, and get-rich-quick schemes being circulates on the Internet.
    It is at http://www.sacbee.com:80/lifestyle/news/lifestyle03_20000806.html . One part of the article lists official sites that track these things. It says: If you want to know more about hoaxes, visit the "Urban Legends and Folklore" section of the Mining Co.
    at http://www.urbanlegends.miningco.com. It describes the various myths, rumors, and hoaxes floating around cyberspace.
    The CIAC Internet Hoaxes site at http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html lists virus hoaxes.
    The Federal Trade Commission site at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm also does a good job of explaining what scams are out there and what to do about them.
    The main point is...
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    5. E-mail messages that I receive sometimes include odd symbols or acronyms that are electronic shorthand. How can I find out what they mean?
  • From Carol H. on 4/19/01
    I found a useful site with this information: http://www.netlingo.com
  • An example that you probably already know is :) or :-) which both indicate that the message is being written with a smile.
    Another example is (((H))) which means Big Hug; BTW means, "by the way ... "; and CID means, "Consider it done."
    Take a look at the netlingo site linked here http://www.netlingo.com/emailsh.cfm and learn more :)

    6. Your question here
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