You see that icon above, the one of the paperclip?  I hate that icon.  I wouldn’t be the least bit upset if I never saw it in my email ever again.  Let’s get one thing straight: email attachments are the worst.

We’ve all been there, you send an email attachment, and as soon as it’s sent (right after the Gmail undo button disappears), you have an epiphany and want to add something else to that presentation or document.  And now you need to make the change, write up a new email explaining why you’re re-sending the attachment, and then attach the file with a new filename so the recipient knows that the one you sent previously is out of date — you know, something like Presentation-updated.pptx.

How embarrassing.

Also, while people have gotten much smarter about opening email attachments in general, let’s not forget that email attachments still spread malware.

So yes, when you really think about it, email attachments flat out suck.

We are no longer in the 1990’s or early-mid 2000’s — we have Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive now.  Anyone who uses Google Apps has access to a ton of storage on Google Drive, which can be used to share files with people and in some cases even collaborate on in realtime.  Even if you don’t have Google Apps, Dropbox has the option to share a link to a particular file with someone — use that instead of attaching it to an email, even if its only so you can edit it and not have to re-send the attachment to someone.

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The bottom line is that there is no reason with the technology that is available today that we are still using email attachments to share files.  So let’s stop doing it.  I know I’m not alone with my thought process either, David Ulevitch wrote a great post in which he notes that he’s seeing less email attachments as of late.  That’s great, let’s keep that trend going and make it the norm.

Death to the email attachment.

  • I’d have to disagree. Seeing as how just about every email client and webmail provider has a threaded view feature now, I don’t see how there could possibly be that much confusion with different versions of a file. Every major email provider scans email attachments for malware as well, so that’s really a nonissue too. Google Drive surely uses the same anti-malware backend that Gmail would, and I believe that Dropbox doesn’t scan for malware at all.

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