Stop Sending Emails Without Attachments

Spare Thoughts

We’ve all done it. You crank out an email intending to send a document, but you hit send before attaching the file. It’s not a big deal when you’re sending a snapshot of your dog to your best friend, but it can be a bit embarrassing when you’re emailing a critical document to your most important customer and cc’ing your boss.

Repeat after me: “I’ll never send an email without an attachment again. I’ll never send…” The good news is that you don’t have to rely on will power and discipline to keep this resolution. You just need to adjust a couple of settings in your email program.

Outlook 2013 forgotten attachment setting

If you’re using Outlook 2013, you can have Outlook keep a lookout for attachment-free emails. Just click on the File ribbon, choose Options, then Mail, and scroll down to the Send Messages Section. Then click on the last checkbox (“Warn me when I send a message that may be missing an attachment”).

Outlook 2013 forgotten attachment setting

Voila! Now, when you write “I’ve attached a copy of the TPS report” and forget to attach the report, Outlook will let you know by giving you a warning before it sends your email:

forgotten attachment warning

If you’re using an earlier version of Outlook, you might want to try an add-in, like the Forgotten Attachment Detector.

Thunderbird’s forgotten attachment setup

If you’re using Thunderbird, click on the Tools drop-down menu, choose Options, then Composition, and click on the “Check for missing attachments” checkbox.

Thunderbird forgotten attachment setting

Just like the Outlook reminder, if you try to send an email that looks like it should have an attachment, Thunderbird will ask you if you’ve forgotten an attachment:

Thunderbird forgotten attachment warning

Thunderbird goes the second mile by displaying a gentle reminder at the bottom of the screen as soon as you write something that suggests that an attachment should be attached. It doesn’t wait for you to make a mistake.

Gmail’s forgotten attachment setting

I’ve never understood the popularity of Gmail, especially after the Great Privacy Policy Consolidation, but I’m apparently in the minority. If you use Gmail and want to protect yourself against attachment-free emails, you don’t have to do anything. Just send an email with text that suggests that there should be an attachment, and Gmail will save you from yourself:

Gmail forgotten attachment reminder

Maybe that’s why Gmail is so popular….

[This article was first published at on February 20, 2014 and is being republished without updating.]

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