Winmail.dat on My Mac

I have this really important email that has a winmail.dat file attached to it.  This attachment is (I hope!) a list of email address that I am supposed to use.  So I did what I always do – I downloaded the attachment and tried to open it.  Ha! How did that work out for me?  Not so well, thank you.

I did some research and discovered that the winmail.dat file is a format that contains rich text information; that means it contains formatting and font information.  It is generated by Microsoft programs such as Outlook and Exchange.  I wondered to myself, why doesn’t Microsoft use the standard Rich Text Format (.rtf)?  But that didn’t help me.

One site advised me to tell the sender to uncheck the “send Microsoft rich text format” box when sending the mail.  Now, that person is not available, that is why I have this email in the first place – to help her get a task done in her absence.  I suppose that I could send the email to a different Microsoft using person, and have them forward it back to me that way, but I’m pretty stubborn.

A little more research revealed at least 2 options.  One, Letter Opener,  is a plugin to the Mail app called that interprets the attachment and it only costs $7 USD.  That seems to be the best long term solution, but I cannot risk messing up my Mail app right now.  I’m sure that it would be fine, but I decided not to chance it.

The other is a freeware, stand a long program called TNEF’s Enough.  There are links on the website to download the file, so I downloaded in Disk Image format.  Then all I had to do was drag the winmail.dat attachment into the new application and then my data would be revealed.  Unfortunately, although the data file was valid, I saw no email list – not through any shortcoming of TNEF’s Enough.

Well, although I have not harvested the data that I need, I know what to do the next time that I get a Winmail.dat file.  It happens fairly often, and truthfully? I have ignored the attachments in the past.


About rosemarie h.

engineer by day - artist by night View all posts by rosemarie h.

3 responses to “Winmail.dat on My Mac

  • Julia

    Rosemarie, the data you are looking for is almost certainly NOT in the winmail.dat file. I’d be willing to bet that if the email list was supposed to be attached, the sender forgot. So I hope you can get hold of them to let them know.

    I guess I really need to update the winmail.dat page at my work website, since it’s the first thing that google brings up when you Google the term. Yep, that was my page.

  • rosemarie h.

    Hi Julia. I googled “winmail.dat on my mac” – perhaps not the best search term, so maybe I missed your page. I went to maybe the third one down, which happened to be an Apple support page. That was the page that recommended that the sender not send that way… great.

    I think I see your page now. How fun is that?? lol!

    I was able to forward the message to my DH’s computer. He was able to save the data for me in a text format and send it back. It was a struggle because he had switched to Outlook 2007 and neither of us are used to the ribbon interface yet. Anyway, the day has been saved! Fortunately the sender had included the data – she is out of the country and not communicating often.

  • rosemarie h.

    Julia, I tend to read magazines from the back, so doesn’t it make sense that I wouldn’t click on the top link?

    I’m sorry I missed it at first – you’re like a Google Rock Star!

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