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Posted by on Jan 26, 2011 in Everything Else | 0 comments

Vista, IE8, Windows Live, Thunderbird can’t open attachments

Vista, IE8, Windows Live, Thunderbird can’t open attachments

This is more tech support than development, but I’ve just spent two entire evenings looking for and fixing this problem on my Mum’s PC (200 miles away, via LogMeIn!) so I thought I’d write it down, in case some other poor soul has something similar.

So, for Google’s sake, here’s a very wordy explanation of the exact problem I was having:

On Windows Vista, I was unable to open or save attachments, using either Windows Live, Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird. I could receive email fine from any of them, but they all acted in the same way: double clicking on the attachment to open it did nothing, saving did nothing. When the Save As dialog box showed, the file type was always “All files *.*”, never the file type of the actual file.

It seems lots of other people have had this in the past. Lots of people have attributed it to anti-virus software, IE8, Windows Updates, especially Security Update for Microsoft Windows (KB969897).

I tried lots of things, including uninstalling that particular update, and even considered whether or not to revert to IE7.

The thing I kept coming back to though, was that it wasn’t tied to any particular email client – they were all acting exactly the same. Normally I’d look to the anti-virus software (in this case NOD32) but that had been the first thing on the computer when it was bought 3 years ago, and this was a recent problem.

Now – what follows is what I eventually did to fix MY problem. It might fix your problem, but I hope it does.

I noticed that Windows Defender was running. I’d noticed it mentioned a couple of times in the posts I’d read, and early on I’d stopped it performing on-demand scanning, but now I went back and turned it off completely (under options, right now the bottom, in the Admin section).

I restarted, and still no joy. So then, more out of desperation than anything else, I downloaded and ran CCleaner. I cleaned up and tidied the registry, then pulled up the list of programs that run on Startup. I was going through, disabling some of the more rubbish ones when I noticed that WindowsDefender.exe was still there. Huh, I disabled you – why are you still running? So I disabled it, and restarted.

Restarting your Mum’s machine 200 miles away after messing with the registry, and then waiting for it come back doesn’t do your heart any good. But it did eventually come back, and with it, all attachments now open, in all email clients.

Utter madness. So, if you’re having the problem I’ve described above, with attachments not opening, and not saving, in Windows Vista, using Windows Live or Thunderbird – give this a go*. Let me know how it goes.

*Disclaimer: I disabled Defender because I already had good spy/malware protection. You need to do what’s right for you.

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