How to Open and Read .eml Email Files
Many email programs and services allow downloading and/or saving email messages in a format called “.eml”. This format is very simple and very standard. These are plain text files that hold one email message per file and which contain the full message headers and full MIME-encoded message content.
While .eml is a widely used standard, old versions of Microsoft Outlook (before v2010) do not support it and that leaves many people wondering what to do with these files.
Here we explain how to open and view .eml-encoded message files on your computer.
Open with an Email Program
Many popular email programs support opening and viewing messages in .eml files. There are certainly many different ways to open .eml files in each email program. In the following list, we provide one or several example methods you can use to access them.
LuxSci customers and free trials can import email files (one at a time or in bulk) to any of their email folders using drag and drop. Once imported, these messages can be read and replied to like any other email message. For more information, see: .eml Email Files – Importing and Viewing in LuxSci WebMail.
You can’t open the .eml directly from Entourage; however:
- Use the “Finder” “Open With” to open the file in Entourage
- Set the “Finder” to use “Entourage” as the default application to open .eml files — be sure you click on Change All / (Apply to All) in the finder window to make the change take effectThen, when you double click on .eml files in the future, they will open in Entourage.
Eudora 7 (Windows)
Drag the .eml file into Eudora and it will display it for you.
- Right click on the email message
- Choose “Open With…”
- Select the “IncrediMail Application”
(If you don’t see “Incredimail Application” in the list, you may need to “Browse” for it … assuming you have it installed. I tis likely under “C:\Program Files\IncrediMail\Bin\IncMail.exe” [though it may be under “Program Files (x86)” instead of just “Program Files”]. Once you have used it the first time in this manual way, Windows should remember the choice for you so you can just select it quickly in the future.)
Good News! .eml-ecoded email files can be viewed in Internet Explorer since they are formatted the same as .mht files. Changing the file extension from “.eml” to “.mht” should cause the file to open directly in Internet Explorer. .eml files may also be opened within Internet Explorer using the Microsoft Exchange Server Outlook WebAccess client.
You cannot open “.eml” files directly from Mac Mail; however, if you “double click” on the “.eml” file, it should open in Mac Mail automatically so that you can view the message.
This works as long as Mac Mail is the default program for opening .eml files, which it will be unless you change it.
Double click on the .eml file and it will open in Outlook Express (if that is still the default program for .eml files on your computer).
Otherwise, right click on the .eml file and choose “Open With”. Then choose “Outlook Express”. You can then also set Outlook Express to be the default application for .eml files so that in the future all you have to do is double click on them to open them in Outlook.
PS – Outlook Express is really old and insecure and unsupported and should not be used! Use something else, like Thunderbird.
Outlook v2010+ (Windows)
Right click on the .eml file and choose “Open With”. Then choose “Microsoft Outlook”.
You can then also set Outlook to be the default application for .eml files so that in the future all you have to do is double click on them to open them in Outlook.
Outlook v2011+ (Mac)
You can’t open the .eml directly from Outlook; however:
- Use the “Finder” “Open With” to open the file in Outlook
- Set the “Finder” to use “Outlook” as the default application to open .eml files — be sure you click on Change All / (Apply to All) in the finder window to make the change take effect
Thunderbird (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Choose “File > Open Saved Message…” from the menu and select your .eml file.
- Open Windows Mail
- Drag and Drop the .eml file into one of your local folders and then click on it to view its content.
Open with a Specialized Program
Some programs are specialized for just opening and viewing email messages stored in various formats:
Convert the format .eml to .pst for Outlook
If you need to access .eml files via Microsoft Outlook, then these can be converted to Outlook’s “.pst” format. Here are two programs that can be used for this purpose:
- How to Install S/MIME (and PGP) Encryption Certificates into Major Email Clients
- Viewing the Message Source / Full Headers of an Email
- Email Encryption Opt Out Now Available for Outlook and Other Email Programs
- 256-bit AES Encryption for SSL and TLS: Maximal Security
- LuxSci’s New WebMail Composer FAQs — How do I …?