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Microsoft Outlook Exchange help viewing attachments in .xls format

Posted on 2016-08-02
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Last Modified: 2016-08-08
Using Outlook Exchange (on the web), we are trying to send an .xls file attachment to be opened with a Microsoft Office application. The file attaches correctly, but when we click it...it reads "The file must first be saved to the computer..." It doesn't open up the file in our Office application.

Question: We need the end-user (person receiving this e-mail) to be able to just click the file and open it in the Office software. The user is a very new computer user and does not know how to save and open files. So once they click it, it needs to open right away. I've read somewhere that .xls files cannot be opened as part of a security update and I've read about changing registry files, but we cannot do this because we cannot get access to this user's computer and we don't want to risk changing registry settings. Please help asap!
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Question by:Justin Smith
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frankhelk earned 2000 total points
ID: 41739217
That depends probably on some (mere esoteric) security settings in Outlook, and far more worse, it depends on the destination side settings. So regardless of what you do when sending the message, the end-use might have any outcome in between "opened seamless" and "totally blocked", depending on mail client settings, OS settings, local policies, domain policies, antivirus software settings, etc, etc, etc.

To make it more complicated, if the user doesn't use Outlook (i.e. Thunderbird, PMMail2000, Eudora, etc, etc, or some other OS' (Linux, IOS, ...) mail client) there might be more and different security settings ...

A quantum of solace: Your results depend on YOUR settings ... possibly the end-user population majority has more compatible settings ...

Maybe you could circumvent it by placing the file on a web server (http, ftp; with logon) and stuff only a link to it into your message.
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by:Justin Smith
ID: 41739522
The recipient uses Outlook web. Same as us. The web server idea is great, but not the login part. Is there anyway to keep the file secure without having a login, that they can just click and go to it?
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by:frankhelk
ID: 41740170
Even with Outlook Web (which I've never tried ...) the handling of attachments relies on at öleas how the OS handles downloads.

About the web server thing: Sure you can make that web server open, but that leaves the files open for everybody to download. At first you can make the URL a bit obfuscated by including a cryptic prefix - random generated for each attachment set - for every file and ensuring that the directory of them couldn't be read, i.e.:

http://theserver.thedomain.com/ADDAcBHZYqgMtQS1Pzfbzpv7EddGyGseWm8wCLeLeY9uMTKHAG/myworkbook.xls

Open in new window


Second Idea would be to protect the Excel file with a password. I presume that "zip it with a password" would be too much complicated for your end user ...

Nonetheless the OS (or browser, or antivirus ) of the client might block the seamless opening of downloaded files as well ...
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by:Justin Smith
ID: 41740466
The zip it with a password would be too complicated...the encrypted link might work, how would I go about doing something like that?
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by:frankhelk
ID: 41740557
Basically spoken, "simple" web servers (aka "without CMS")  are usually fed via FTP, where the driectory structure reflects the URL structure. So you need some script that generates the "random part", creates a directory at the right place and stores the file to d/l therein. Afterwards it would spit out the correct URL to you to copy/paste it into your email message.
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by:Justin Smith
ID: 41740732
Are FTP addresses free? Know of any good ones?
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Expert Comment

by:frankhelk
ID: 41740748
Unfortunately - I don't know.

If you have a web server, you should usually have some ftp acces for maintenance, too ... you'd use the ftp procedure to stuff the files into the web server's data directories.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Justin Smith
ID: 41747435
Good information.
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