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Outlook: Cannot Open Or Preview Attachments

Attachments in email messages cannot be opened or viewed in Microsoft Outlook. The message displays:

    This file cannot be previewed because of an error with the following previewer:
    Microsoft Office image previewer
    To open this file in its own program, double-click it.

However, double-clicking also does not work.

This may occur if there are 99 similarly-named files in the Outlook temporary directory. When Outlook previews or opens an attached file, it first saves it to a location on disk, using the filename of the attachment. However, if a file of that name already exists, it is saved as, say, Filename (1).doc, then Filename (2).doc and so on. After this reaches Filename (99).doc, Outlook does not increment the counter beyond 99 and so fails to save the file.

This is most likely to happen when receiving many attachments with the same filename, such as photos emailed from an iPhone/iPad, which are always called photo.jpg when emailed. It can also happen if you happen to have opened the same attachment in a message 99 times.

To resolve, Outlook's temporary directory must be cleared.

On Windows Vista/7 and above, the default path is:

%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook

For example,

C:\Users\Bob\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook

Open this location in Windows Explorer and delete the contents of the directory. It is quite normal for this directory to contain many files as Outlook does not always clear out the temporary copies of email attachments by itself.

Another method is to open a command prompt and use the following commands:

attrib -r "%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\*.*"

del "%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\*.*" /s /q

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