A computer file that is sent with an email is called an attachment. Files, single of multiple, can be attached to any email and sent.
Sending an email with an attachment is generally a simple task. Locate the ‘attach’ icon in your email and use it to find the additional information you want to send. A list of files from your computer will appear and select the file(s) you want to attach. In some programs you can drag files across to the email. Once load they will appear as ‘thumbs’ at the bottom of the email.
Today, attachments are generally easy to manage, but some servers impose a limit on the size – for both the sender and receiver. At one time only 1MB was permitted but these days you can usually attach up to 20MB. Files with the suffix ‘.exe.’ or ‘pif’ are called executable files and need to be changed to a ‘.zip’ file before sending.
You may notice that the file size of the attachment increases when you are sending. This is because the attachments are encoded as text to enable the transfer. This is achieved through a system called Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME).
E-mail primarily uses text data, but attachments are binary files. When we represent binary data as text it increases the file size. Originally binary data could not be sent as attachments, but today encoding is used to allow attachments to be sent and received easily.
When sharing large files, use one of the programs designed for this purpose, such as DropBox or FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
Remember to clear your old attachments regularly – they take up useful free space.