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email .exe filesHave you ever tried to email an .exe file?

Most mail servers provide anti-virus protection. This means they scan file attachments of emails you send and receive. Some providers even go as far as to block a number of file extensions per default.

Gmail for example won’t let you send .exe files, even if they are archived in a .zip, .tar, .tgz, .taz, .z, or .gz file. Messages sent to you containing an .exe file will be bounced back to the sender.

So do you unblock attachments to send or receive .exe files nevertheless?


There are several simple tricks. Please note however, that some of them may violate the Terms Of Service of your email provider. Violating the TOS may result in your email account being locked or closed.

1. Upload The File to A File Hosting Service

how to unblock attachmentsA perfectly legal alternative to sending an .exe file is to upload the file to a file host and email the URL to the intended recipient.

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We have previously covered several file hosting services on MakeUseOf. For some of them you don’t even have to sign up.

2. Put The Files In A Zip File

If you want to send several files and unblock individual attachments, this is the best way to go in the first place as the archive reduces the total file size. However, as I have mentioned in my introduction, if you add an .exe file to your .zip archive, it will still be blocked by Gmail and possibly other mail services.

Zip files contain archived file name listings, which are not encrypted, even if you password protect the .zip file. This is different with .rar archives, which do not easily reveal their content. You can download WinRAR here. Note that this is not a free tool. However, it offers a free trial and has been known to work even after the trial period expires.

3. Manually Change the File Extension

You can rename the .exe file extension to .jpg for example.

In order for this to work you must be able to see file extensions. In Windows, open the folder that contains the file you want to rename, go to > Tools > Folder Options… and open the > View tab. Under > Files and Folders remove the check mark for > Hide extensions for known file types. Click > OK to save your changes.

Now you can change the file extension. Windows will warn you that if you change a file name extension, the file may become unusable. Don’t worry, you can change it back later, so go ahead.

how to unblock attachments

4. Add An “Imaginary” File Extension

Changing the file extension has one major drawback: it’s not obvious, so you may forget that you changed it or someone else may not recognize it.

An alternative to unblock attachments is to rename the file, but instead of changing the file extension, simply add an additional one. For example, rename setup.exe to setup.exe.remove.

This post was inspired by a question posted on MakeUseOf Answers. Do you have a problem you need help with? Go ahead and ask us! It’s free and you don’t have to sign up.

Image credits: doctor-a, iprole

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