Last reviewed on September 19, 2013   —  4 Comments

I've had quite a few questions recently with attachment problems on Windows 8. The users either couldn't figure out how to close attachments or wanted to stop the attachment from opening in full screen. This is the result of opening the attachment in a Windows 8 app, not a desktop application. The solution: change the default program for that file type.

How do I open an Outlook attachment and with one keystroke close the attachment and return to Outlook? When I press Alt & Tab, it closes the attachment and I return to outlook, but the attachment is still open but hidden on the left side of the screen.

You're opening the attachments in the Windows 8 apps, not a desktop application, and need to use Alt+F4 to close the app, not Alt+Tab.

Change the default application for an attachment

To change the application that opens the attachment, click on the notification message in the right corner of the screen that tells you other programs can open the file.

Other programs are available to open this file

Select a desktop application from the list.

Select a different default application

If the notification message doesn't come up, save the attachment to My Documents, then right click on it and choose Choose default program... then select a desktop application. Future attachments of that type will open in the desktop application you selected.

Choose Default program


  1. Louise. says

    I have been sent an email on many occasions which have attachments: word excel, jpegs, .pdfs etc. when it arrives in my Inbox there is no attachment to open. The sender has even come over and found nothing attached yet others cc'd on this same email do receive the attachment ???

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Are you using outlook or a different email client? If the message size indicates it is about the size of the attachment, then the message is hidden - if you are using outlook, hit forward and see if it comes up. There is a bug with some email servers (commonly used by Mac users) that causes outlook to not properly disable the attachment. Forward rewrites the message and fixes the problem.

      If the message size is large enough for the attachment and you aren't using Outlook, I'm guessing the message was sent as RTF and the attachment is in a winmail.dat file - some clients will hide the attachment since they can't use it and it's presence generates questions and with the exception of when it contains attachments, it's useless. You can look at the Internet header - the attachment will be encoded in garbage characters and the word 'winmail.dat' should be near the bottom of the header.

      if the message size is small, something deleted the attachment - probably antivirus or similar security software.

Leave a Reply

Please post long or more complicated questions at OutlookForums by

If the Post Comment button disappears, press your Tab key.