How to Use Microsoft Outlook Online’s File View

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Searching through emails for attachments can be time-consuming and annoying. Thankfully, Microsoft has a “File” view in Outlook Online that makes it easy to find any document you’re looking for. Here’s how it works.

Microsoft Outlook has traditionally been an amalgam of email, calendar, people, and tasks, but that leaves out a key component: data. If you use the Outlook desktop client, then you have powerful search options to plug that gap. When it comes to attachments, there’s a dedicated “Has Attachments” option in the “Search” tab specifically for files that you’ve sent or received.

The "Has Attachments" option on the Search tab.

Outlook Online doesn’t have the ribbon, but you can still search for attachments by clicking the arrow in the “Search” box and switching on the “Attachments” checkbox.

The "Attachments" checkbox on the Search filter.

Microsoft has gone one step further in Outlook Online and introduced a dedicated file view for Microsoft 365/Office 365 subscribers and Outlook Live accounts.

You can access this view by clicking the “Files” icon in the bottom-left corner of Outlook. By default, it will be between the “People” and “To-Do” icons.

The "Files" icon.

If you can’t see it, but you have a three-dot icon instead, click the three-dot icon and then the “Files” option from the menu that pops up.

The "Files" icon on the menu.

The default view will show you all files, with an icon showing you the file type, the subject, the sender, the date received or sent, and the folder in which the email with the attachment is kept.

The "Files" view in the Attachments panel.

In a slightly odd twist, image files are not displayed in this default view. To show those, you can either click “Files x” to show all files including images or click the “Photos” option in the sidebar to show only images.

The "Photos" option in the Navigation sidebar.

By default, the files are shown in a list view, but you can click “View” and change to “Tiles View” to show the files as thumbnails instead.

The "View" menu and the "Tiles view" option.

This is where the “Photos” option comes into its own, as it’s much easier to find the image you’re looking for.

Images displayed in the "Tiles view" mode.

To open an attachment, double-click it in the Attachments list, and it will open a panel previewing the attachment and the mail that it was attached to.

The Preview view of an attachment.

From here you can download the file and perform various other actions depending on what file type it is, as well as perform the standard actions you would normally be able to do with the email, such as Reply, Forward, and so on.

If you just need to find an attachment and download or print it, you can skip this step and download or print it straight from the list. Click the three-dot menu icon next to the file name and choose the appropriate action from the menu.

The menu of options for an attachments.

Alternatively, select the item by clicking the circle to the left of it and the same options appear on the toolbar.

The toolbar displayed when an attachment is selected.

This is ideal for downloading multiple files at once, as you can select as many files as you like using this method.

When you’re done with your files and you want to return to your emails, click on the “Mail” icon in the bottom left of Outlook.

The "Mail" icon.

The File view is a good addition to Microsoft Outlook Online. It’s easy to use, quick, and lets you manage your attachments in a user-friendly way that is definitely more refined than just picking through search results.

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