11/12/04 Forward me pictures, not red Xs!
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) - 11/9/04 2:54 PM
Thank you Al and all who participated in this past week's Q&A!
Ron, I hope this week you can swing by and join us this week's discussion to let us know if the winning answer, the honorable mentions, and other recommendation help solve your Outlook Express issue. And if it didnt wed like to know so we can tackle this problem even further. So, please join us in this discussion below.
Members, like always if you have more questions, or additional advice, by all means feel free to post below in this thread. The more we discuss the more we learn--its all up to you as a community to contribute.
Thanks again everyone!
I use Outlook Express for e-mail. When I forward an e-mail
message with pictures in it, the recipients see only boxes
with red Xs in them, not pictures. What causes this, and are there any settings I can change that will allow the pictures to show up?
Submitted by: Ron R.
There are a number of possible explanations for little red Xs in Outlook Express. In fact, they are so numerous, I've written software that reads the Outlook Express databases and extracts the images. (Free at the moment at http://www.3bears.biz.)
First, let me give your seemingly simple second question, how to prevent them, a straightforward answer. Use the "Message/forward as attachment" command rather than the "Message/forward" command. Sending it as an attachment sends the entire message intact. Your recipients can then open the attachment and view the pictures--maybe!
Second, let me explain why this is such an issue. Finally, I'll suggest some diagnostic techniques that you can use to determine exactly what is happening.
To start, Outlook Express is not particularly friendly about the names of images. If you send a poorly named image, your recipient may see the little red <i>X</i> or nothing at all. (Filenames should contain only letters and numbers, a period, and if you must have them, underscores. Anything else, such as spaces and percent symbols, may cause grief. Also the extension must be recognized by Outlook Express as an image. This is under control of the recipient. BMP and JPG are usually safe. JPEG and GIF may work. Anything else is problematic, especially ART. (There is a small possibility that your PC is set up correctly in this regard and that your recipient's PC's are not.) Other e-mail programs are not as particular. However, since you are forwarding the message, this is not under your control.
Now let's look at why things can go wrong in addition to file names. There are two formats that can be used to send email and at least four ways to put pictures into email. Not all combinations work and not all combinations are available in Outlook Express. Because you are forwarding, you have no control over the email program used by the original author, so you have no control over the format of the forwarded message. But at least it will get through if you attach it. If you are using in line forwarding, i.e. the Forward command, then your Outlook Express settings are also involved. You should make sure that you are composing with Format | Rich Text turned on. (See warning below.)
Similarly, you have no control over the email program used to receive the messages from you. In particular, if the recipient is using Outlook Express under XP SP2, a privacy/security feature results in some images showing the little red X. This is quickly resolved by clicking on the info bar at the top of the message. You might read up on this SP2 feature and educate your correspondents about it. There is a long standing option in Outlook Express that displays the received message in Plain Text. This may also be the cause, though usually this results in the images showing up listed in the attachments, rather than a red X. Again, you may have to educate your recipients, and again see warning below. There are other settings on the recipient end that may also interfer. Also all bets are off if your recipients are using something other than Outlook Express (especially AOL) to read their mail.
Now for some diagonostic ideas. First, if you have not done so, check the Send Option that saves every message to the Sent Folder. Also when you forward a message as an attachment, use CC or BCC to send a copy to yourself. These steps will allow you to see the message at each stage of the process.
When you get back your copy of the email, clear your Internet Explorer cache before opening it. (Control Panel | Intenet Options | Delete Files.) Outlook Express and Internet Explorer interact in several ways, and this is one of them. Emptying the cache will make sure that Outlook Express has to deal with the images. Now open the message and click on the attachment to open it. If the pictures are there, you are home free. If your intended recipients do not see the images, the problem is at their end. If you don't see the images, continue your diagnosis. However, be warned that this involves slogging through the raw message source, not something for the faint hearted.
Before doing that, there is something else that you can do. Check the message size in Outlook Express. If the messages are under 10 KB, odds are the pictures were NOT part of the original message, but rather links to them. These links often are highly volatile. They may work when you opened the email, but by the time your recipient receives it they may not work any more. (Outlook allows you to send images this way. Outlook Express does not except as your forward the message.)
Finally, if all else fails you will have to study the source for the messages. Select the message in Outlook Express. Select File | Properties | Details | Message Source. You can then copy and paste the source into notepad to save it for study. Alternatively, drag the message to the desk top, right click, select Open with | Choose program ... and select Notepad. Check Always use the selected program to open this kind of file. You can then open the message at the three different stages and try to determine where the pictures went. Doing this is not trivial, and I can't hope to cover the bases here. But intelligent study of the messages side by side may suggest what is going on.
Warning: I have a correspondent that likes to say "Friends don't send friends HTML formatted email." The reason is that HTML can invoke all sorts of active content that can cause havoc to your computer if your security settings are not correct and / or your version of Outlook Express is not up to date. When you use Format | Rich Text (HTML) to send email, then the message is sent as HTML. When you leave the Read all messages in plain text option unchecked, then you allow Outlook Express to interpret the HTML. I've never run into problems with this, but Microsoft was sufficiently concerned about Privacy/Security that they disable one feature of HTML by default in Outlook Express under XP SP2. This results in the need to check the info bar as mentioned above.
The Forward as Attachment method should solve your problem. As you can see why it happens is not easy.
Submitted by: Al C.