TNEF’s Enough – opening winmail.dat in OSX

If you’ve ever received an e-mail from a user of Microsoft Outlook connected to a Microsoft Exchange Server and you’re on a Mac, you may have been frustrated by the annoyance that is ‘winmail.dat’. It’s a proprietary attachment format that Microsoft developed years ago and for some reason continue to stick with today, even though their e-mail clients are the only ones that traditionally support it.

This is even more frustrating if you’re on a Mac, because, unless you use the latest Microsoft Office which comes with a Mac version of Outlook, you won’t be able to open these files natively.

Fortunately, there’s TNEF’s Enough which will rescue you. It’s a little free application that you can use to open winmail.dat attachments and get to their contents. I’ve tested it personally and it enabled me to get to an Excel Spreadsheet that had been sent to me by an organisation that refuses to get into the 21st Century with their IT.

Whilst TNEF’s enough does work, and it works well, I find it a little less than intuitive to use. It’s quite possible that the way I would like it to run is not possible given the way Apple can be with their applications, but if it’s possible it’d be nice to have the application operate as a Mac Mail plugin that simply deconstructs the winmail.dat file in situ and doesn’t require me to drag and drop or save the attachment first. It’s a minor thing, and to be honest, I’m just glad I can get at the contents of a winmail.dat at all.

Ideally winmail.dat would die and no-one would need TNEF’s Enough, but until that day comes, if you need to open winmail.dat files, this is an easy to use solution (albeit with a couple of extra clicks that’d be nice not to have) and you can’t argue with the price – it’s free!

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