You cannot open a document that was sent as an e-mail attachment in Word

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Article ID: 325718 - View products that this article applies to.
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SYMPTOMS

You may not be able to open a Word document that was sent as an e-mail attachment. You may receive the following error message:
The document name or path is invalid.
The document may appear to be damaged and may be unrecoverable.

This behavior may occur whether you try to open it directly from the e-mail message or after first saving it to your hard disk. It may occur regardless of which e-mail client you are using.

CAUSE

This behavior may occur because mail servers filter out information that they consider to be untrustworthy. The binary format of Word documents is sometimes not considered to be a trusted file format. As a result, the document may be corrupted because some of the binary information in it changes. Even if the binary data changes only a little, the whole document may be unreadable.

WORKAROUND

To work around this issue, use one of the following methods:

Method 1: Save the document in rich text format

Ask the sender to save the document in rich text format (RTF) and then resend it. Be aware that some formatting may be lost. RTF does not support many of the same features that the Word binary format (.doc) supports. To save a document in rich text format, follow these steps:
  1. On the File menu in Word, click Save As.
  2. In the Save as type box, click Rich Text Format (*.rtf), and then click Save.

Method 2: Compress the document

Ask the sender to compress the file and then resend it. Use Microsoft Windows XP or one of the following 3rd-party utilities to compress the document so that it can be sent as a zipped attachment. Zipped attachments transfer by e-mail more securely.
WinZip (http://www.winzip.com)
WinRAR (http://www.rarlab.com)
UltimateZip (http://www.ultimatezip.com)
The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.
Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

To compress a document in Windows XP, follow these steps:
  1. Right-click Start, and then click Explore.
  2. Locate and then open the folder that contains the document or documents that you want to compress, and then select only those documents.
  3. Right-click the selected documents, point to Send To, and then click Compressed (zipped) Folder.

    Windows creates the compressed folder in the same folder that contains the documents or files that you are compressing.

REFERENCES

For more information about troubleshooting Word documents as e-mail attachments, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
316777 Microsoft Word 2002 cannot open a document in an attached e-mail message
195113 Problem opening attachments with Netscape Navigator
290936 How to send a Word document as e-mail in Word 2002
For more information about troubleshooting damaged documents, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
290946 How to recover text from any files by using the "Recover Text from Any File" converter of Word 2002 and Word 2003
212274 How to recover text from any document in Word 2000
224051 ErrMsg: "The file appears to be corrupted"
156573 How to recover text from any file

Properties

Article ID: 325718 - Last Review: September 18, 2011 - Revision: 5.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Word 2002
  • Microsoft Word 2000
  • Microsoft Word 97 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
kbopenfile kb3rdparty kberrmsg kbprb KB325718

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