How can I stop email attachments from automatically downloading?

Roody March 7, 2012
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I have OS X Lion. When I use the mail program, attachments download on their own, even when I have chosen to keep the message for offline viewing. If I move mail to another folder the attachment seems to disappear, but when I actually open the email it downloads again. Is there a way to make the software work like iOS mail, where the attachment only downloads when you click on it?

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  1. Mike
    March 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I think the problem is that Mail automatically does inline attachments viewing [for pretty much all filetypes] which automatically triggers the attachment from being downloaded.

    You could try the following command to see whether it helps or not.
    1. Quit Apple Mail
    2. open up a Terminal window (Applications/Utilities)
    3. enter the following and hit return
    defaults write com.apple.mail disableInlineAttachmentViewing -bool yes 
    4. start Apple Mail

    However, as far as I know this command only disables the inline preview even having only the symbol within the Mail message would probably trigger the download of the attachment.

    Out of the box I can only suggest to switch to another mail clients. For example Entourage or Outlook 2011 will provide you with an explicit download option like iOS does.

  2. Mulder
    March 7, 2012 at 4:33 am

    What you're describing is self-contradictory. If you download your email, any attachments come with it, so you can't possibly choose in advance to keep a message or it's attachment for offline viewing, since you don't have them yet. Attachments do not download when you click on them, since you can't click on something that you don't have.

    Moving your mail to a different folder doesn't make the attachment disappear, and opening the message to read it doesn't make the attachment download again.

    It sounds like you're confused as to how email actually works, since you're describing things that can't happen. If you could be clear as to exactly what you're doing, where, and why, it would help us to understand your actual problem.

    • roody
      March 7, 2012 at 5:58 am

      Its my bad, what i meant was that i have chosen only to keep the message for offline viewing and omit the attachment.

      What i mean is when i get mail, it automatically downloads the attachment, now if a move the mail to another folder it downloads again . According to me it should be saved, and i could copy it on my computer whenever i want.

      • Mulder
        March 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm

        You message downloads again because you have an IMAP account, so all your mail is kept on the server and synchronizes with Mail whenever you run it.

        Moving messages around (a very bad idea) leads to the condition where Mail can't find that message when it connects to the server, so to keep Mail and the server in sync, it's downloaded again.

        There's no reason to move messages from the Inbox, unless you're sorting them into other Mail folders. If you stop doing that, you won't have this problem.