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Let's say a user sends me e-mail with an attached file: attachment.txt, which contains the text

This is the contents of attachment.txt!!!1one

In Thunderbird, I would see a little icon labeled "attachment.txt". However, in Mac Mail (v 3.6 935/935.3), the text file is in-lined, so the message looks like this:

On Jul 24, 2009, at 8:38 AM, John Doe wrote:

Hi Pete, I've attached the file.

This is the contents of attachment.txt!!!1one

This automatic inline attachment gets really annoying when a colleague sends me a 400 line C++ code & refers to line number n... I have to manually copy & paste the contents of the e-mail into a seperate file, then hope I got the spacing correct in order to jump down to line n. How do I use Mac mail to list/download individual attachments as an icon/separate file?

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2  
I see it as an attachment not as you describe. What mail client is sending the message? –  g . Jul 24 '09 at 15:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I always see the files as attachments. I just did a quick test with a simple text file and it is displayed as an attachment as expected. Perhaps it has to do with the way the file is attached by the sending mail client?

If you take a look at the raw source (Command-Option-U), you can see some details on how the attachment is included in the message. If the Content-Disposition says inline, it is correct for Mail to display the attachment in the message as you describe. If the Content-Disposition says attachment, it should appear as a separate file.

Here is what my test looked like.

    --Apple-Mail-5--439805500
    Content-Type: text/plain;
        charset=US-ASCII;
        format=flowed
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

    Hi Pete, I've attached the file.


    --Apple-Mail-5--439805500
    Content-Disposition: attachment;
        filename=attachment.txt
    Content-Type: text/plain;
        x-unix-mode=0644;
        name="attachment.txt"
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

    This is the contents of attachment.txt!!!1one
    --Apple-Mail-5--439805500
    Content-Type: text/plain;
        charset=US-ASCII;
        format=flowed
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit



    --Apple-Mail-5--439805500--
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I wonder what the Content-Type is when Pete receives the message. Maybe he has associated some editor to that Content-Type, and maybe that editor is capable of creating Quick Look previews. And, maybe, Mail.app can use Quick Look previews of third-party applications to display the attachments inline? I would not expect Mail.app to display a 400+ lines text document inline by default... –  Arjan Jul 24 '09 at 16:13
    
Good idea looking at the raw source (Command-Option-U)... It turns out that the sender's program didn't technically attach a file at all... The Content-Type reads: Content-Type: text/plain; x-mac-type="0"; x-mac-creator="0"; Argh. –  Pete Jul 24 '09 at 18:11
    
So, there's no Content-Disposition header? Just to make sure you're not reading the Content-Type of another part of the source. (As you wrote that in Thunderbird you'd see some attachment icon. But maybe that was for other messages?) –  Arjan Jul 24 '09 at 18:26

Apple calls this "View in Place". You can control-click the text and choose to display it as an icon (if it is indeed actually an attachment), but as far as I know Mail will not remember this setting. It can indeed be confusing at times. Like for PDF, the way an attachment is displayed depends on the number of pages.

To switch it off:

defaults write com.apple.mail DisableInlineAttachmentViewing -boolean NO

Apart from that, I can always see the attachments in the top of the preview pane. These allow for saving, even when displayed inline. (Menu File, Save Attachments...)

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You could control click the inline element and tell it to display as an icon. For a more comprehensive solution see: Freeware application: Mail Attachments iconizer

Which should:

Mail Attachments Iconizer 2 gives you control over attachment handling in Apple Mail. It fixes the most annoying Apple Mail flaws and allows you to configure how attachments are displayed and sent using a simple interface.

alt text

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