GWKB1034 : Accessing Attachments in Email Messages

Product: Window-Eyes
Author: Aaron Smith
Date Added: 01/25/2006
Last Modified: 12/02/2013

Email attachments are files that are included (or "attached") with an email message. Documents, images, and even application files can be sent via email.

Attachments can appear in a separate control in an email message window, or included inline, meaning that the attachments appear in the body of the message (either as a link or, in the case of a text file, in the actual content of the message). How an attachment appears in a message depends on the email application being used. For example, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Outlook Express list message attachments in a read only edit box, usually positioned directly above the message area. Programs like Eudora (when reading emails using Browse Mode through the Microsoft Viewer) and Lotus Notes include attachments as links at the bottom of the email.

In addition to displaying attachments somewhere in the message window, most email applications also provide a way to access a message's attachments through the message windows menu system. Quite often, the File menu will include an option called, "Save Attachments," or something similar.

Microsoft Outlook

One way to open attachments in Outlook is to use the Outlook Enhance app.  Refer to http://www.gwmicro.com/kb2046 for more information.

Another way to access attachments in Outlook is to use the Window-Eyes attachment hot key, ALT-7 twice. The first press of ALT-7 will read the attachment names. The second press will focus the attachment edit box, allowing you to select the attachment you want. Microsoft Outlook 2003 offers at least one other way to access attachments. In the list of messages (such as the Inbox), attachments can be accessed by pressing the context menu key (or SHIFT-F10) on a selected message. In the context menu, there is an option called List Attachments (or something similar) that displays all of the attachments for the selected message in a concise pull-down menu.

The following set of instructions details accessing attachments for Microsoft Outlook Express and Eudora. The Window-Eyes attachment hot key (ALT-7) applies to Microsoft Outlook Express just as it does with Outlook. Other email applications, such as Eudora, do not support the Window-Eyes hot key. Therefore, these steps are written using the existing application interfaces. In other words, no Window-Eyes specific knowledge is required. This is one of the main advantages of Window-Eyes over other screen readers - you learn how to use the program, and not how to use the screen reader. Once you have the knowledge of opening attachments using the programs themselves, you can quickly learn to find attachments in almost any email program without relying on specific screen reader functionality. While the steps will not be exact for other email programs, the concepts should be the same.

Outlook Express

There are two popular ways of accessing attachments in an open message window:

  1. TAB or SHIFT-TAB to the attachment list box. Since Outlook Express displays messages in Browse Mode, pressing the TAB key will either move focus to a link or control in the message, or announce, "No link or control" if no link or control is found. To access the attachment list box, Browse Mode must be disabled by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-A. When Window-Eyes announces, "Browse Off," TAB and SHIFT-TAB can then be used to access the attachment list box. If you were near the top of your message when Browse Mode was toggled off, press SHIFT-TAB to move backward to the attachment edit box. If you were near the end of the messages when Browse Mode was toggled off, press TAB to move forward to the attachment edit box. The attachment list box is positioned above the message area, and below the message subject.
  2. Press ALT-F to open the File menu, followed by V to open the Save Attachments dialog box. The Save Attachments dialog box presents all of the message attachments in a concise list allowing you to save a single attachment, or all attachments. Once the attachments are saved in a folder on your hard drive, they can be accessed at any time, regardless of whether or not Outlook Express is running.

Eudora

Eudora offers several ways to access message attachments. If the Microsoft Viewer is enabled, Window-Eyes will enable Browse Mode for reading email messages. Accessing attachments with Browse Mode enabled is quick and easy.

  1. Open a message that contains an attachment.
  2. Press CTRL-END to move to the bottom of the message (where the attachment links are located).
  3. Press SHIFT-TAB or SHIFT-L to move to the attachment link. If you have more than one attachment in a message, you can continue to press SHIFT-TAB or SHIFT-L to move through the attachment links.
  4. You can activate an attachment either by pressing ENTER on the attachment link, or by routing the mouse with INS-NUMPAD-PLUS, and single left clicking with the NUMPAD-SLASH key.

Accessing attachments in Eudora when the Microsoft Viewer is not enabled is similar to the steps above:

  1. Open a message that contains an attachment.
  2. Press CTRL-END to move to the bottom of the message (where the attachment links are located).
  3. Press the UP ARROW key to move to the last attachment link. If you have more than one attachment in a message, you can continue to press the UP ARROW key to move through the attachments.
  4. You can activate an attachment by pressing ENTER.

Eudora automatically saves email attachments into a folder on your hard drive when the message is delivered. An alternative method of accessing Eudora attachments is to open the attachment folder, select the attachment you want to view, and press ENTER.

Hunting for Attachments

If you are unable to find message attachments using the concepts listed above, you can always try using the Window-Eyes find comment to look for the word "attachment" in an open message window. Most email applications usually include attachments in a list somewhere in the message window, and usually place the word "attachment" close to the attachment list. Press CTRL-SHIFT-F in your message window, type in attachment, and press ENTER. If Window-Eyes says, "found attachment," you can then use the mouse next/previous clip hot keys (INS-NUMPAD-PgUp (or 9), and INS-NUMPAD-Home (or 7) respectively) to maneuver around the attachment area. Once you find an attachment name, you can usually double left click (NUMPAD-SLASH twice) to launch the attachment.