Death to Attachments

From Tony Hirst:

If an email comes with an attachment, then I suspect that in a large number of cases the sender is probably using the wrong medium. So for example, this morning I found in my mailbox:

Three seminar announcements with *ALL* the details in an attached word file (nothing in the body of the message). (“Please find enclosed details of our next seminar” – you know the sort of thing…)

Two newsletters as PDF attachments (they’re available on the web as well…)

Yes, I hate that… and if you’re on a slower machine, you spend the next several minutes opening different applications (Word, Excel, Acrobat), wait for the virus scan ..etc, only to wonder how than organize it all…

Here’s Tony’s solution:

So I think I may try a new mail rule:

if attachment then

  • silently delete AND
  • reply-to-sender “Please find another way of letting me see the document you sent as an enclosure – I do have a browser, you know… If the document is for commenting on by several people, try Google docs, Zoho, or Microsoft Live whatever it’s called…”

I love it… like I’ve said before, Attachments are Evil – Link, don’t Send.


  1. Let me take it one step further. I read much of my email (both business and personal) on my mobile phone. When I can, I indicate that I prefer to receive my mail in text format for that very reason.

    As a result, guess what happens to email from those entities that send email in a nice pretty format that my mobile phone can’t read? That’s right, I never see your pretty message, or I may see it a day later, or a week later.

    I can, however, click on a link – provided that it’s a link that my mobile phone can understand.

  2. Yes, this is really amusing because a lot of people are speculating which trends are “dead” like e-mail, attachemtns or even social networking (this market seems to be flooding now) and it’s almost like credit cards or RSS feeds, you have to pick just a couple to subscribe. I think the right question to ask is rather “What’s next?”

    I agree that attachments should be dead because it’s so easy to send things by hyperlink and embed documents, too. BUT we still have User IDs and passwords and if you have to access a document somewhere else, you still have to type something in to get to the information you are looking for. Perhaps the “next” thing is biometric or speech recognition.

  3. Attachments are sent even in house here. You know, not put in some public folder, but sent in an email to 10 people at once. Like meeting memos, spreadsheets, etc.

    Suggesting that it be put on some unsafe and dangerous outside website – like Zoho, Google Docs, etc. – would get you a long, cold stare and a long speech about security of business secrets and so on.

    I think that outside of the Silicon Valley and such “high-tech” places most of the companies are working like this.

    Even the reading of emails on the phone did not catch on at a lot of places yet.

  4. It’s the bane of all journalists and the last way to get us to read a press release. 10Mb attachments press release attachments with added graphics in tiff format work best, straight to the trash.



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