2021/02/09 – Sending files in Outlook… attachments or links?

Prior to the advent of cloud computing, sending attachments via email meant that each recipient got their own copy of the file(s), leading to wasted bandwidth, excessive disk storage, and no way to have a “single source of truth” file since everyone had their own copy. But now with the cloud, you can choose instead to send a link to your file that’s stored in OneDrive or SharePoint, and everyone can work off that single copy. Here’s how that works…

When you click on the Attach option in Outlook (I’m using Outlook on the web), you have the option to Upload and share a file. This means that you can select a file that will be uploaded to OneDrive, shared with your recipients, and only a link to the file will be sent:

The Windows File Explorer gives you the option to select a file from your computer (or anywhere else you have access):

The file will be uploaded to OneDrive in the Attachments folder by default, but you can choose a new location if you’d like. Once that’s done, click Upload:

The file link shows up like a regular attachment in your email, but you’ll notice that there’s a cloud that’s part of the file icon, showing that it’s now in the cloud and only a link to the file will be sent. It also tells you what the access will be for people receiving the email:

By comparison, you could choose Browse this computer to actually attach the file to the email so that everyone gets a separate copy:

As you can see in the second attachment, there’s no cloud icon. It also tells you how large the file is that’s going to be sent out to everyone. Multiply that size by the number of recipients, and the network and storage usage can get pretty large pretty quickly:

For the cloud attachment, you have the ability to update the level of access to the file to also allow people to edit the file if needed:

Once the email is sent, the recipient has four different options on what to do with the cloud link:

By comparison, the actual file attachment only allows for previewing and downloading:

So next time you need to send an attachment to someone via email, use the option to upload and share instead of attaching the actual file. Your various system admins will thank you.

For more information, check out these videos:

Share Your Documents

Save Files to the Cloud

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