How to email a .EXE file as an attachment

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Have you ever tried to attach a .exe file to an email and send it to someone?  If so, you were probably a little disappointed – most email programs won’t allow you to attach a .exe file to an email.  While it may seem a little inconvenient, there’s good reason for this.

.exe file

When a file has the 3-letter extension “.exe” it means that file is an actual program.  It’s not a picture, or a document.  When you double click it, it will actually execute code to perform some action (or series of actions).  From that standpoint, that is exactly what a virus would do (the only difference is that a virus performs a function that is malicious).

Virtually every program that runs on your computer uses a .exe file, so they are not necessarily “bad” just because of that file extension.  However – your email program is set up to protect you (as well as those that receive your email).  So, if you find a great little program and you want to email it to your friend, here’s what happens when you try to attach it:

errorThat’s the message from Outlook 2007.  I believe if you tried to send it from Outlook Express or Windows Mail, it won’t even let you try.

(As a side note, should you ever receive an email with a .exe attachment, don’t open it unless you know exactly what it is and you were expecting it.)

So, if you have a legitimate .exe file that you need to email, how do you do it?

You just need to “trick” the email program into not knowing it’s an .exe file.  To do this, go to the folder that contains the particular file, so that you can see the file name and the extension right there on your screen.

Click one time on the file name.  That highlights it.

Wait a second or two, and click once again.  That puts the cursor in there and makes the name editable.

Put the flashing cursor at the end – right after the “exe”.  Now type this:


So, if the file name was originally “program.exe”, it should now be displayed as “program.exe.remove”.

You will get an error message that comes up, warning that if you change the file’s extension the file may become unusable.  That’s okay, do it anyway.

Now you can attach that file to an email, and the email program will think the extension is “.remove”, which it has never heard of, so no alarm bells go off.

When you send this file, you need to instruct the recipient to first save the attachment to their computer, and then remove the “.remove” in order to run it.

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April 19th, 2010

An alternative method, and this works well for sending folders as an email attachment, is to keep the .exe program in its own folder and then make the folder a .zip file. This can then be attached to an email without a problem. The recipient simply unzips the file and finds the .exe file inside the folder.

Scott Johnson
April 19th, 2010

That will work sometimes, but there are some email providers that will also not allow zipped files to be attached either. Worth a try though.

Caleb Power
May 7th, 2010

I have found that most programs cannot detect if there are executable files within a 7zip file, and usually they allow 7zip files to be attached. I know gmail does. You can go to the address below to download a portable/stand-alone version of the 7zip program.