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Mail.app and Word files - Mac Applications & Software

I recently started using Mail instead of Netscape 7 for email. I need to be able to send marked-up Word files to PC users so I was concerned when one of my clients told me she was unable to open a .doc file I sent in her Word 97 program. She got an alert saying "there's no program associated with this action." (I did attach the .doc extension.) I sent the same file as .rtf and she was able to open that. When I sent the .doc file using Netscape email, she could open it. Another PC user was able ...

  1. #1

    Default Mail.app and Word files

    I recently started using Mail instead of Netscape 7 for email. I
    need to be able to send marked-up Word files to PC users so I was
    concerned when one of my clients told me she was unable to open a .doc
    file I sent in her Word 97 program. She got an alert saying "there's no
    program associated with this action." (I did attach the .doc extension.)
    I sent the same file as .rtf and she was able to open that. When I
    sent the .doc file using Netscape email, she could open it.
    Another PC user was able to open an attached Word file I sent her
    but she found two icons on her email, one of which had a bunch of
    indecipherable symbols. (I'd only sent her one file.)
    Does anyone know what Mail is doing differently than Netscape?

    --
    ca
    dotlyc Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article <nVc6b.23291$bellglobal.com>,
    dotlyc <ca> wrote:
     

    I don't know if Mail is sending the attached doent as a MIME
    attachment or not. I think the other programs do and include the
    application creator and type. Or perhaps the binary MIME type Mail
    sends isn't mapping correctly to Word on the PC.

    Are you sufficiently technical to look at the mail headers to figure out
    what the difference is between the two messages? That would be the
    first place I'd look. Then I'd file a bug report with Apple.

    --
    DeeDee, don't press that button! DeeDee! NO! Dee...



    Michael Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article <tdl.com>,
    "Michael Vilain <net>" wrote:
     [/ref]
     

    I checked the full headers on both messages.

    This is from the Mail app message:
    Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=Apple-Mail-39-553301878
    Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v546)

    This is from the Netscape message:
    MIME-Version: 1.0
    Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="----------------------
    020107070603080104040309"

    I should have mentioned that I've sent other Word files to a couple
    of other PC users and they were able to read them just fine.

    --
    ca
    dotlyc Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    >Does anyone know what Mail is doing differently than Netscape?

    Yes. This is a common question, and the answer has been posted many times.

    Macintosh files have two "parts," called a "data fork" and a "resource fork."
    Other computers do not use two-part files, and email standards were not created
    to handle two-part files.

    The data fork contains the actual file data. The resource fork contains
    Mac-specific information that no other computer can use, including the file's
    custom icon, code resources (if it is an application), and so on.

    When you send a file with Netscape Mail, it sends only the data fork. The
    resource fork is removed. With most files, this is not a problem. With
    Mac-specific files like applications or extensions or fonts, this permanently
    destroys the file beyond all hope of recovery.

    Mail.app uses "AppleDouble" encoding. It breaks the file into TWO
    attachments--one attachment for the data, one attachment for the resource fork.

    A mail program that understands AppleDouble puts the two parts back together
    automatically, and the user just "sees" one file.

    A mail program that does not understand AppleDouble shows the recipient TWO
    attachments with the same name. One attachment is the actual file, and it works
    fine. One attachment is the Macintosh resource fork, and can not be used on a
    PC.

    The solution is education. Explain to your clients that if you send them an
    email and they see two attachments, download only the bigger one. The other one
    will not work.

    Hope that helps...

    --
    Rude T-shirts for a rude age: http://www.villaintees.com
    Art, literature, shareware, polyamory, kink, and more:
    http://www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

    Tacit Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article <aol.com>,
    com (Tacit) wrote:
     

    You are so right on that point!

    However it is not the receiver that should be educated! it is Apple that
    finally should learn that data/resource fork is fine BUT should not be
    used in a world where information is passed on to other systems that
    (logivally) have no understanding at all of these Apple queers.

    So Apple should at least put a preference in Mail on how files should be
    sent.
    --

    gr,
    Antonio
    AnToNio Guest

  6. #6

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    >So Apple should at least put a preference in Mail on how files should be 

    Very true--I wish Mail.app had a means of disabling AppleDouble encoding in
    favor of plain-vanilla data-fork-only MIME.

    --
    Rude T-shirts for a rude age: http://www.villaintees.com
    Art, literature, shareware, polyamory, kink, and more:
    http://www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

    Tacit Guest

  7. #7

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article <nVc6b.23291$bellglobal.com>,
    dotlyc <ca> wrote:
     

    This is apparently a well-known problem with Mail.app (which I just
    discovered myself a few weeks ago). Here is what is happening.

    Some MS Word files have both a resource fork and a data fork. Some
    MS Word files have only a data fork. Some mail clients on the Mac
    send only the data fork, ignoring the resource fork if any.
    Mail.app sends only the data fork if there was only a data fork, or
    it send both forks in AppleDouble format if the file had both forks.
    For a MS Word file, it is the data fork that contains the actual
    doent, the resource fork only contains some icon information.

    At the receiving end, the mail server and mail client may or may not
    handle correctly the AppleDouble format. The PC mail client should
    ignore the resource fork, and it should recognize the data fork as a
    MS word file; if it does this, then there will be no problems
    transferring files between the Mac and the PC. But some PC mail
    servers and/or clients cannot handle correctly AppleDouble format
    files, despite the fact that it is a standard MIME type. For these
    PC users, some of your Word attachements will be alright and some
    will not, depending on whether the original file had one or two
    forks. If they aren't handled correctly, I think there are several
    symptoms, including receiving what appears to be two separate
    attachments of unknown type.

    This has apparently been known for about a year (when Mail.app was
    first released). Apple is apparently reluctant to change the way
    Mail.app works. Ignoring the resource fork on the sending side
    would mean that some information would be lost when sending
    attachments (e.g. to other Mac users). Also, AppleDouble is a
    standard MIME type, so what they are doing now is technically
    correct and standard-conforming, and they think the problem should
    be fixed on the PC mail server/client side.

    Some versions of Netscape (and Mozilla) on the Mac apparently do it
    one way and other versions apparently do it the other way. The last
    I checked a few weeks ago, Mozilla attachments had the same problem
    as Mail.app (however, there have been a couple of Mozilla beta
    updates since then). Entourage (the MS mail client for the Mac) has
    an option to ignore resource forks in making attachements. If you
    send your MS Word files with entourage and use this option, then all
    PC users will be able to extract your attachements correctly. There
    are also ways to delete the resource fork in the file before making
    the attachment (for example, you can use the terminal commandline
    "cp" command to make a temporary resource-fork-less copy), and even
    Mail.app will attach these files so that they can be read by all PC
    users. Another option is to use Stuffit to compress the file before
    making the attachment (this requires the receiver to also use
    Stuffit to decode the file, but it is free, so maybe that is a good
    option for you); both forks get attached this way, and the PC user
    can then ignore the resource fork.

    I'm not as familiar with the PC side of the issue. In some cases, I
    think it is the mail server itself that causes the corruption. That
    is, once the email goes from the sender's server to the receiver's
    server, then even if the receiver reads it with Mail.app client on a
    Mac, it will lose the resource fork. Of course, the sender's server
    could be the corrupt one, in which case the Mac user could not even
    send email with attachments to himself successfully. In other
    cases, the server may be alright and it depends on which mail client
    the PC user is using. If he uses Mail.app on a Mac with that
    server, then everything would be alright, and if he uses Pine on a
    PC (for example) he might receive the data fork correctly, but if he
    uses Eudora on a PC (for example) then he might receive the two
    unknown attachements. Those are just example mail clients, I don't
    know which ones actually work or not on the PC side.

    And all this is complicated by the fact that some attachments from
    the Mac user may appear to work correctly for all users while others
    are problematic (for some recepients, but not for others).

    $.02 -Ron Shepard
    Ron Guest

  8. #8

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article <aol.com>,
    com (Tacit) wrote:
     

    And it is very easy for them to do that!
    --

    gr,
    Antonio
    AnToNio Guest

  9. #9

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article <aol.com>,
    com (Tacit) wrote:
     
    >
    > Yes. This is a common question, and the answer has been posted many times.
    >
    > Macintosh files have two "parts," called a "data fork" and a "resource fork."
    > Other computers do not use two-part files, and email standards were not
    > created
    > to handle two-part files.[/ref]
    [snip] 

    Thanks for this information. I was aware of the two-file problem.
    One person to whom I sent an attachment mentioned that she had two files
    and I told her to just use the one that worked and ignore the other.
    The problem with the second client was that she couldn't open any
    file at all, except when I sent it as RTF. She didn't mention seeing two
    files. I assumed that if she had, she would have tried to open both and
    been successful with one of them, but perhaps I should have questioned
    her more closely about what she actually got in the email.
    Perhaps -- although this seems illogical -- she tried to open the
    wrong one, failed, and reported the failure to me without trying the
    other file.

    --
    ca
    dotlyc Guest

  10. #10

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article
    <comcast.giganews.com>,
    Ron Shepard <comcast.net> wrote:
     
    >
    > This is apparently a well-known problem with Mail.app (which I just
    > discovered myself a few weeks ago). Here is what is happening.[/ref]

    [snip] 

    Thanks for that very comprehensive explanation. I guess I'll just
    have to see which people have problems and which don't.
    As I noted in another post, I was puzzled by the fact that this
    person could not open any file at all. Another person received two files
    and was able to open the data fork file without difficulty. Several
    other people I've sent files to haven't reported any problem at all. So
    it does seem to be highly variable.
    I checked her headers and I think her email program is something
    called Internet Mail Service, which I've never heard of. Unfortunately,
    one other client seems to use this as well and I exchange a lot of files
    with her, so I may have to start thinking about a work-around. Perhaps
    I'll use Entourage for these problem files, since I'll be getting
    OfficeX soon.

    --
    ca
    dotlyc Guest

  11. #11

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    >Perhaps -- although this seems illogical -- she tried to open the 

    That's possible. It's also possible that she didn't have Microsoft Word, or
    that she had an old version of Word, or that the file type associations in her
    system's Registry were corrupt. (I am assuming here that she is using a PC.)


    --
    Rude T-shirts for a rude age: http://www.villaintees.com
    Art, literature, shareware, polyamory, kink, and more:
    http://www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

    Tacit Guest

  12. #12

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article <aol.com>,
    com (Tacit) wrote:
     
    >
    > That's possible. It's also possible that she didn't have Microsoft Word, or
    > that she had an old version of Word, or that the file type associations in her
    > system's Registry were corrupt. (I am assuming here that she is using a PC.)[/ref]

    Yes, a PC, and she's using Word 97. I'll ask her if she saw two
    files in the email.

    --
    ca
    dotlyc Guest

  13. #13

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article <VdK6b.356$bellglobal.com>,
    dotlyc <ca> wrote:
     
    >
    > Yes, a PC, and she's using Word 97. I'll ask her if she saw two
    > files in the email.[/ref]

    It is possible that even with MS Word installed on the PC, and even
    if there appear to be two attachements in the email, that the
    information cannot be extracted and read by Word. Sometimes it
    seems to work, sometimes it doesn't.

    BTW, conversion to RTF works because (I think) the RTF file is text
    only and has only a data fork, not both forks.

    $.02 -Ron Shepard
    Ron Guest

  14. #14

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    In article
    <comcast.giganews.com>,
    Ron Shepard <comcast.net> wrote:
     
    >
    > It is possible that even with MS Word installed on the PC, and even
    > if there appear to be two attachements in the email, that the
    > information cannot be extracted and read by Word. Sometimes it
    > seems to work, sometimes it doesn't.[/ref]

    Indeed. I sent a test file to another client who apparently uses
    the same email program and she had no trouble at all. She got the two
    files and loaded the main one in Word just fine. She loaded the other in
    Notepad and said it contained my "contact information" whatever that may
    be. 

    I think that will suffice as a backup whenever I run into trouble.
    My Word files are relatively simple and RTF transfers the "track
    changes" info so that's all I need.
    Just as a matter of curiosity, what does Mail do with image files?
    I often send friends and family JPGs of photos from my digital camera. I
    haven't tried sending any with Mail yet. I'll have to do a test run.

    --
    ca
    dotlyc Guest

  15. #15

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    >BTW, conversion to RTF works because (I think) the RTF file is text 

    Native Word files also have a data fork only--no information is stored in the
    resource fork.

    --
    Rude T-shirts for a rude age: http://www.villaintees.com
    Art, literature, shareware, polyamory, kink, and more:
    http://www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

    Tacit Guest

  16. #16

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    >Just as a matter of curiosity, what does Mail do with image files? 

    Same thing--the file is sent using AppleDouble encoding. The Mac-only part
    contains the Mac type and creator codes and the resource fork 9which includes
    the icon and thumbnail); the other part contains the actual image data.

    --
    Rude T-shirts for a rude age: http://www.villaintees.com
    Art, literature, shareware, polyamory, kink, and more:
    http://www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

    Tacit Guest

  17. #17

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files



    On 6 Sep 2003, Tacit wrote:
     
    >
    > Very true--I wish Mail.app had a means of disabling AppleDouble encoding in
    > favor of plain-vanilla data-fork-only MIME.
    >[/ref]

    So now I have a question: How does MS Entourage handle the encoding?
    (I recently had a problem sending a .doc file to a couple of PC users, but
    I use Entourage rather than the Mail.app)


    Daniel Guest

  18. #18

    Default Re: Mail.app and Word files

    Tacit <com> wrote:
     

    The solution is to make a preference in the application to ignore resource
    forks when attaching files. There is no cirstance where I ever want to
    send a file via email using AppleDouble.

    This is one reason Apple Mail is just too simplistic to be suitable for real
    use. I play with it now and then, but that's about it.

    --
    Jeremy | com
    Jeremy Guest

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