Users who recently upgraded to Outlook 2010 or newer are complaining about a change in behavior introduced in Outlook 2010: When attachments are opened from a message, they are read-only. Users cannot edit the attachment and save the changes in the back to the message, they need to save the attachment to the hard drive and reattach it.
It's especially annoying to people who receive images that need rotated - read-only images can't be rotated.
This "feature" (or design flaw, according to some administrators) was removed because of "reliability issues and data loss problems" with replacing an attachment received from someone with a version that you edited. I suspect most of the data loss came from user error, not Outlook reliability. Many users didn't understand how this feature worked or what happened to attachments when they were opened. While users who knew how this feature worked were able to use it to their advantage, many more people lost data because they didn't understand what happened to the document they "just spent all day editing" after they saved and closed it.
For it to work correctly, you had to work in a specific order and users often did Step 5 before Step 4 and saved the file to the hidden temp folder.
- Open message
- Open attachment
- Edit attachment
- Save and close attachment
- Save and close message
Users familiar with this feature don't want to use Save as, they want it to work like it did before, with the changes to the attachment saving back to the message. This simple feature saves time when working with lots of email attachments and eliminates duplicate copies on the hard drive.
Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem which add just a step or two to the process.
If you put the email message into Edit mode you can edit the attachment and save changes back to the original attachment on the email message. You need to remember to save the attachment when closing AND save changes to the email message as the copy in the securetemp folder will be deleted when you close Outlook.
If you add the Edit Message button to the QAT or Ribbon on a message (NOT the main Outlook window), its very easy to get into Edit mode. To add the command to the QAT (or ribbon):
- Open a message
- Go to File, Options, then choose Quick Access Toolbar
- Select All Commands from the Choose command dropdown
- Click in the list of commands the scroll down to the E's to find the Edit commands. (Can press E on the keyboard to jump down faster.)
- Find Edit Message and double click on it or use the Add button to add it to the QAT.
- Click OK to return to the message.
The next time you need to edit an attachment and save the changes back to the message, open the email message, click the Edit Message button then open the attachment.
Remember: you need to save and close the attachment then save and close the email message for the edits to be saved. If you don't want changes saved (such as when rotating images), close without saving.
Solution: Forward, then Edit
If you need to edit the attachment then forward the message, you can hit Forward first, then edit the attachment. The edited copy of the attachment will only be in the Sent Items folder when you use this method, not also on the original message.
Note: This does not work in Outlook 2016.
You can make many attachments readable if you disable Attachment Preview. With this disabled you will lose the ability to view attachments in the Reading pane or open messages - you will need to double click to open them in their application.
Go to File tab, Options, Trust Center:
- Click the Trust Center Settings button
- Select Attachment Handling
- Add a check to the "Turn off attachment preview" option.
Note: this disables preview for all attachments. If you like the attachment preview feature, use the Edit message method.
A workaround for those using Photo Viewer exists: in Photo viewer, click on File, Properties, General tab then clear the Read only check. Repeat for each image.