Replying to an email with modified attachments

On a related subject to my previous post (Saving emails without Attachments) one other Microsoft Outlook attachment challenge I frequently come across is how best to respond to an email which asks me to review and make changes to an enclosed file. If you simply hit Reply (or Reply to All, as appropriate), Outlook ditches the attachments assuming you no longer need them. However, if you hit Forward, the attachments are preserved. So here's what I do:

  1. Open the email you have been asked to reply to so it appears in its own window
  2. If there are only names in the To... field of the email I simply highlight these and press CTRL+C to copy them (now go to step 4)
  3. OR... If there are names in the To..., Cc... and/or Bcc... fields I highlight the first selection of names and press CTRL+C twice to activate the clipboard task pane. I then select the next row of names and press CTRL+C to copy. Each time I do this an extra bundle of clipboard items are saved to the clipboard task pane.
  4. Next I press Forward to create a new email with the embedded attachment and type the email address of the person who sent me the original message in the To... line (now go to step 6 if you missed step 3)
  5. Press CTRL+F1 so the task pane shows. Switch the task pane to the clipbopard view if needed. Now I paste back the names from the clipboard group by group to the correct addressee field, deleting my own for obvious reasons
  6. Now I open and edit the attached file as required, remembering to Save it before closing
  7. If you want to be really slick, change FW: in the subject line to RE:
  8. Now simply send the message. 

If you always want to send back the original message (attachments and all) when replying to emails you can change an Outlook setting to do this. But only do this if really needed because doing so uses a lot more bandwidth and storage as every email you reply to gets duplicated in full. Here's how:

  1. In Outlook, Tools > Options
  2. On the Preferences tab, click the E-mail Options button
  3. Under the When replying to a message there's a drop down box. Change this setting to Attach Original Message

Now if you need to edit an email attachment that you've been sent you should hit Reply or Reply to All then open the attachment, choose Edit Message from the Edit menu before opening, editing and saving the attachment.

I prefer my way of doing things (the first set of instructions in this blog) because that way I'm always in control. And with a little practice it's as easy as falling off a bike.

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