Using Attachments in Gmail

What are Attachments?

Attachments are computer files that people sometimes send along with emails. They can be pictures, videos, office documents, posters, and more. You can tell if a conversation in Gmail has an attachment if there is a paperclip icon beside the date that it was received.

You can tell which specific emails within the conversation have attachments in the same manner.

 How to Download Attachments from Emails in Gmail

Attachments will appear in Gmail at the bottom of the email in which they were sent, like they do below. Note that this means you may have to open a collapsed email to see any attachments on it. Each attachment's icon will give you a preview of what kind of computer file it is, and maybe even a small preview of what's actually in the file. Click the button highlighted below to download all of the attachments on an email onto your computer at the same time.

If you download all attachments at once, they'll appear on your computer (most likely in your "Downloads" folder) as a "ZIP" file. A "ZIP" file is basically a folder where the contents have been squished down to take up less space and make them easier to move around. Think of it in terms of an inflatable castle or playground that you might see at a birthday party or carnival. It gets inflated into a recognizable shape so that kids can play and bounce around on it, and then when the air is let out, it shrinks to a size and shape that lets it be packed up and moved somewhere else.

For more information on how to open "ZIP" files, click here.

You can also move your mouse cursor over an attachment to get more options. Click anywhere except on one of the buttons in the attachment to open a full preview of it right in Gmail, or click the button highlighted below to download just that single attachment to your computer (again, it will likely show up in your "Downloads" folder on your computer).

You can also click the button highlighted with the red box below to save the attachment to Google Drive. Google Drive is another service that Google provides that lets you store your computer files on Google's powerful server computers instead of your own home computer. That way, not only are those files not taking up memory space on your home computer, but you can also get at them from any computer, as long as it has an Internet connection. So it's basically a second hard drive for you -- hence the name.

You can also send all attachments on an email to Google Drive at once by clicking the button highlighted below.

How to Attach Files to an Email in Gmail

  1. When you have the "Compose" window open for writing an email (click the Compose button to start a new email, if you haven't already), click the Attach Files button.

  2. A new window will open that will allow you to browse through the files on your computer. Navigate through your folders until you find the file that you want to use as an attachment, click it to select it, and then click Open.

  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for however many files you want to attach to your email.

  4. You will now see that the files you attached have appeared in a list at the bottom of your "Compose" window, with each one showing both the name of the file and how much computer memory it takes up (in this case, it says "65K", so it takes up about 65 kilobytes of computer memory). Click on the name of an attachment to open or download it, or click the "X" to the far right of it to remove it from the email.

Gmail Attachment Size Limits

While Gmail does give you a lot of computer memory with which to store your emails and attachments, there is still a limit to the amount of computer memory that Google can devote to Gmail. Therefore, in order to keep things fair and prevent a select few people from hogging all of Gmail's computer memory, Google has imposed a limit on the amount of computer memory that a single email can take up.

Any one email in Gmail is limited to about 25 megabytes (or 25 000 kilobytes) of computer memory. This means that the total computer memory taken up by all of the attachments on a single email in Gmail has to be less than this number. This is also the maximum size that any one attachment to an email in Gmail can be (and even then, you won't have room for any more attachments).

As mentioned in the previous section, the amount of computer memory that an attachment takes up can be found next to its name.

If your attachments are taking up more computer memory than the limit on a single email, you can remove some of them by clicking the "X" next to the ones that you want to leave out of your email.

One final thing to note is that other email services usually also have limits on the amount of computer memory that a single email can take up, and some limits might be smaller than the one on Gmail. So even if you are within Gmail's limit on the size of attachments in your email, you may still not be able to send certain emails to certain people if your email and its attachments take up more computer memory than their email service will allow. In that case, let them know that they should switch to Gmail as their email service, and then this won't be a problem!


Mark_complete_sm Back_to_course Go to

More Gmail Tutorials

See all 23 Gmail tutorials

Did you learn what you wanted to?

Was something in this tutorial missing, confusing, or out of date? Or did it give you all the information you needed, and you just want to say "thanks"? We'd love to hear what you thought!