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What is a winmail.dat file and how do you open it?

Notes from ClifNotes, Mar 2008, permalink Outlook Add-ons


One day this week, someone left me a voicemail message at work. "Hey Clif, I've gotten this winmail.dat file from someone. How do I open it?".


I'm not in the I.T. department at work, but the guys in my group know where to go to get answers to weird questions like this one. Yes, I did know the answer because I've seen this happen before.


Here's the answer I gave:


Some people fail to realize that the whole world does not use MS Outlook Email.


Outlook sometimes sends proprietary info in each email that appears as winmail.dat to anyone who isn't using Outlook. The info included is rich text formatting and also file attachments.


We can't see file attachments inside the winmail.dat file, but they might be there.


Since that's the case, you'd think MS would make the winmail.dat file easy to open and view in almost any program. Yeah right, and I've got some farmland in Florida I can sell you too.


MS doesn't supply a free viewer for that winmail.dat file, but some really nice folks on the net do.


You need Winmail Opener to view this file.


Quote from the website

Winmail Opener is a small and simple utility that allows you to view and extract contents of TNEF-encoded messages (infamous winmail.dat). That means if you receive winmail.dat on your e-mail, with Winmail Opener you can view the rich text message contents and attachments embedded into this file.


You may receive winmail.dat files from the senders who are using Microsoft Outlook (97, 2000). Winmail.dat contains all attachments and rich text message, and not all e-mail clients can recognize its format. Winmail Opener is the solution.