Q: I’m part of a group of 80 people who every week receive an e-mail with an Adobe PDF file attachment. But when I receive the e-mail, the PDF has been converted to a Winmail.dat file that my e-mail software can’t read. However, if one of the other 80 people forwards the weekly e-mail to me, I receive the PDF file without any problems. What can I do?

Jeanne Smith, Plymouth


A: The problem is in the original e-mail sender’s Microsoft Outlook software, which is sending the e-mail and attached PDF to your group in “Rich Text” format. That format makes it easy to use different type styles and sizes if you use Outlook, but most other e-mail programs can’t read it.

When Outlook sends an e-mail in the Rich Text format, it includes the underlying text commands in an attached Winmail.dat file. But Outlook also puts the PDF attachment inside the Winmail.dat file, where your e-mail software can’t find it.

You need to explain to the original sender that his or her Outlook ­setting needs to be changed so that the e-mail and attached PDF are sent to your group as “HTML” (HyperText Markup Language) or “Plain Text” files. The change can be made in Outlook by clicking File, selecting Options and choosing Mail, then making sure either HTML or Plain Text is selected. For details, see tinyurl.com/yh3ufo8.

The members of your group that correctly receive the e-mail and PDF are using either Outlook or another e-mail program that can read Rich Text format. But when another member of the group forwards the e-mail and PDF to you, they are sending it as HTML or Plain Text that your e-mail software can read.


Q: The Quicken Mac 2007 accounting program on my Macintosh started warning me about corrupt data in my files in February. I haven’t been able to open these files, despite spending hours on the phone with software firm Intuit, which owns Quicken. Any ideas?

Glenn Puncochar, St. Paul


A: If Intuit can’t help you, try some tips from a Macintosh user who recovered some apparently corrupted Quicken Mac 2007 files by deleting some of the information in them (see tinyurl.com/4vsu8oj.) If that doesn’t work, the corrupted files are probably lost.


Finally, a follow-up on last week’s column. Robert Walensky, a Minnetonka IT consultant, agrees with me that a faulty cable splitter (which divides a cable TV line between TV and computer) may be the cause of sporadic Internet outages (see last week’s column at tinyurl.com/nuer7qf.)

But he says another possible cause is the lack of a backup battery in the modem-router. That could allow small voltage fluctuations in a power line to interrupt the Internet connection. Adding a battery backup, called an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), costs about $40. For details on these devices, see tinyurl.com/m3q54yh.


E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, 650 3rd Av. S., Suite 1300, ­Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.