Reports on the coming death of email have been floated for some years. But email is still the most common system for sharing documents over the Internet.
Here are tips and information on the limitations of email attachments.
Different services, different attachment rules
At one time or another, we’ve all sent off a big file via email and received an error message stating that the attachment or attachments were too large. Most email systems impose some sort of size limitation. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to work around these limits. But first, here’s a summary of common email systems.
It can be surprisingly difficult to get accurate information on attachment limitations. To confirm the restrictions of each email system discussed below, I created three images: one 24.6MB, one 13.3MB, and one 5MB. I then tried sending messages with some combination of those attachments.
Gmail: The maximum size of all attachments in any single message is 25MB (more info). If a file is too large, Gmail will display a warning (see Figure 1); it’ll then automatically place the file in Google Drive and add a link to the file in the message. (For security, Google doesn’t let you attach executable files.)
A basic Google Drive account includes 15GB of free storage, used for Drive files, Gmail, and uncompressed images in Photos. So if you’re sending lots of large attachments, be sure to check your current Google storage allotment.
Outlook.com/Hotmail: Based on the results of my testing, Microsoft’s online mail service allows attachments up to 34MB. If you exceed that limit, you’ll be given the option to copy the files to OneDrive, and send a link to their location. They can then be downloaded by the recipient.