Gmail seems to have deleted the attachment of an email I had sent to myself a while after I sent it. The reason Gmail hints at is that the file is detected as a virus (it's not): is there any way to get access to that file?

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The "Learn more" link redirects me to https://support.google.com/mail/answer/25760?hl=en&ctx=mail, which says:

What happens if a virus is found?

If Gmail detects a virus on an attachment, we reject the message and notify the sender. If a message that’s already in your account has an infected attachment, you won’t be able to download it.

If an attachment you're trying to send is infected with a virus, Gmail will display an error message to tell you, but it won't clean the file. To send the message without that attachment, click the link in the error message that says Remove attachment and send.

If Gmail detects that you're trying to send an infected attachment, try running your anti-virus software in case your hard drive is infected. If you don't have anti-virus software, you might consider purchasing or installing one of the popular applications so you can protect your computer and information from viruses.

If I try to forward the email, I cannot forward the attachment:

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Is there anyway I can retrieve access to my file?


4 Answers 4


You can download it by retrieving a back up of your email account with Google takeout. Note that you can select which labels you want to download, so no need to download your entire Gmail account. Also, it usually takes a few hours for Google to prepare the archive (depending on the size of your Gmail account).

The back up of your email account is a .mbox, that you can open using Thunderbird + importexporttools addon. Windows MBox Viewer didn't work for me as my 1.4 GB .mbox file seemed to be too large for it (1.4 GB).

  • I needed to use the Import/Export extension to import the MBOX file in Thunderbird (into an account that was POP, and not IMAP configured). But got there eventually!
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 9:24

The simplest and quickest solution I could find (without taking a complete backup or using a mobile Gmail client) was this:

  1. Select the more options menu that is next to the reply button and then show original, the page could take some time to load since it will load the entire message with the attachments data in one page.

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  1. After the page loads then select file -> save as, and save it as plaintext type with a filename of extention .eml for example email.eml. Alternatively you can select all the text and copy it (ctlr+a & ctrl-c), then open a simple text editor in your OS (textEdit on Mac OS, gedit/kate on Linux, or notepad on Windows) and paste the contents(ctrl-v) and save it.

  2. Then simple double click the file and it will open with the default email client, if not then download one (e.g. Thunderbird) or download a simple eml viewer.

  • 1
    You can also just select the part, in the original message, that corresponds to the base64-encoded file, and use a service like motobit.com/util/base64-decoder-encoder.asp to convert it to binary (or you own script, as that shouldn't be hard to do in most high-level programming languages like PHP or JS/Node)
    – user14764
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 21:08

You can download the attachment in your phone using GMail client application for Android. It will allow you to do so (I am able to download). Creating archive is a long process.

  • 1
    Assuming the OP has an Android seems a bit of a stretch.
    – ale
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 12:35
  • It worked for me and it was much faster than the archive! Thank you very much for your answer!
    – Irigi
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 10:17

You can simply download it using a mail client program. I recently faced the same situation and used Thunderbird to download the attachments (Save All option -- saves all attachments related to a specific mail).

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