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Ok, so my parent's computer crashed (horribly - corruptedRegistry) and I'm trying to access one of their e-mail files that is saved locally on the hard drive. I can't launch Windows itself so right now I am in a "bootup command prompt". I've navigated to where the e-mail appear to be stored C:Users\[userName]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\Local Folders\Inbox and it shows a list of what appear to be the files.

The problem is, they are .eml files and I can't seem to be able to open them. I've tried 'vim' and 'vi' commands but it tells me that 'vim is not recognized as an internal or external command.

Does anyone know how I can view .eml files from command line?


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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Try typing the following in a command prompt:

type filename.eml

The results won't be pretty, but you may be able to find something useful.

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If possible, you may consider downloading and writing a rescue/live CD/DVD. There are quite a few out there, many based on Linux (but still able to read Windows drives). From there you can access and save important data, then you will be safer to resort to more drastic measures to restore the OS should it be necessary.

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Assuming "bootup command prompt" is a kind of minimalistic Windows environment, depending on exactly what version that may be, there are several possibilities:

  • copy or the slightly more elaborate variations xcopy and robocopy can help you transfer the files elsewhere to be viewed and managed on a more accessible machine.
  • type filename.eml, using one of the most basic commands, will practically always work and will simply write the contents of the file to the console. To overcome difficulties with scrolling through large files, you may want to use the similar command more < filename.eml instead, which displays contents one window at a time.
  • Not a command line application, so this may or may not be available, notepad filename.eml will use Windows's built-in text editor, allowing you to read and edit the file with a graphical interface.
  • From the MS-DOS era, you may still have access to edit or its even older brother edlin. Those are 16-bit programs and not compatible with 64-bit versions of Windows.
  • Even though it is not a native Windows command, vim does have Windows versions you could use, though installing them on a barely functional machine can prove difficult.
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Vim is not included in Windows by default. Use Notepad as suggested above, or type email.eml.

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You can open it with any Editor like Notepad. If you want to use command line id could be
Notepad path\filename

or just

Type path\filename

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