Stop sending me email attachments

Dear Federal colleagues and partners,

Please stop sending me 8 mb email attachments. Use other options like cloud computing or Google docs.

That is all.


A guy who hates to see “Mailbox Size Limit exceeded: This notification is to inform you that your mailbox size has reached the defined limit for Prohibiting Send.

What do YOU think?

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Corey McCarren

Google Docs is definitely the way to go. It’s much easier to collaborate on documents with as well as view them by not having to download them. The downloads folder on my computer is not pretty and it drives me crazy.

Emily Landsman

I would agree with you 99% of the time. You have to assume, though, that your colleagues know how to use another sharing option and remember to use it!

Benjamin Strong

@Dennis, great point on attachments and mobile devices. Most of the attachments I get I can’t read on a my mobile device. Worse, they’re often “classified” at some level of “official use only” and I’m not allowed to forward it to my personal email account. Oh, and Mark- Google Docs is blocked at my agency as well (along with thumb drives).

In a world where telework is touted as the next big thing you’d think there would be an easy solution to this.

Benjamin Strong

@Steve, you can send those attachments but I won’t get them. Believe it or not I’m already at the legal mailbox limit and my email has been shut down! #Irony #Winning

Colleen Ayers

Since my office works with mostly sensitive documents, we can’t use outside platforms like Google, but we HAVE implemented an internal Share Point system throughout the Department, and this has greatly facilitated sharing documents in libraries instead of sending them around by email. They are also available via telework, since it’s a web browser interface available once you’re remotely logged into the Department’s system.

I think the real key is just an overall document management strategy that is simple enough for everyone to use. Before this, yes, we had “shared drives”, but trying to keep things organized in a way that someone else could find your documents was very difficult. Now that my office has developed “team sites” with very clear guidance on what belongs where, it’s a lot easier for someone to say “Hey, I dropped X document into the reference library, you should check it out.” And saves our email boxes from both files that are too large, and files that are sensitive and shouldn’t be sent out via email anyway!

Dorothy Ramienski Amatucci

I am a fan of both Google Docs and Sharepoint. I agree with the frustration regarding attachments. Unless they are small, I don’t want to have anything to do with them anymore. 🙂

Tera Lea Salo

I agree – even better? the ones that FORWARDS to you, the 8 Mb docs that you just received from someone else. SharePoint? yes, we have it, but maybe 10% know how to use it to add, share, and notify…

Jim Bunstock

A fine suggestion – when those options exist. We are locked into an Outlook system with no other options, so there is no choice. The solution then is management. Download the attachments you need to retain, and regularly clear out your inbox, send items box and deleted items box to get rid of old or unnecessary files.

We are moving slowly toward an improved system, but are still at the mercy of governmental creep. In the meantime, push for improvements and work with what you have.

Ed Albetski

I hear you. Even though your agency can use storage systems in the cloud, many agencies that handle sensitive data cannot, so this is not an option for them.

As an IT guy I often had to help users at my old agency clean up their bloated e-mail accounts. And the first thing I told them was that e-mail IS NOT A FILING SYSTEM. When you get a huge message, and you need it for future reference, save it and it’s attachment somewhere else, and delete the original. Yes, the e-mail system is convenient; but the space is finite. Most have document storage apps with them precisely for this purpose. Ask the IT folks. Some agencies to save money and space, turn this off or do not install it. Well, some acts reap their own rewards, don’t they? The other option is generous use of the [del] button.

I would have the user take a few hours and go through their account and delete any messages they did not need. This usually did the trick. Most of the bulk of these packed accounts is just packrat syndrome. Along with business messages were usually every joke and cute kitten picture they were ever sent. One guy had a folder of “cake” messages. The ones that were sent to all in a unit to meet in the galley for cake to celebrate someone’s birthday. The messages went back YEARS. Really?

A full e-mail account is a problem, but don’t be so quick to shift the blame to others. In all my years in IT I never dealt with a user who had a reason for keeping all the messages that they did. They were all mail hoarders.

Steve Richardson

I agree with Dennis – that managing your inbox is the solution. Some are more thoughtful than others but getting angry at those whose intention is to include you will lead to your disappearance from their distribution list altogether.

Benjamin Strong


I manage my inbox pretty well. The drawback is I often travel for long periods of time. I’m not issued a laptop and travel with a MacBook Air and do not log into my account on the road or from home. One 8 mb attachment and I’m locked out.

I do save my emails outside of the email system. Ed’s argument that sensitive data cannot be stored in the cloud is subjective. There’s probably a whole new blog post about the incorrect “classifying” of information. There is no reason the majority of what I do cannot be stored in something like DropBox.

Imagine, using a cloud based system would eliminate the need for thumb drives, portable hard drives, and burning CDs or emailing documents back and forth.