A Singer, A Song

January 25, 2008

Gmail ‘Noname’ Attachment Bug

Filed under: Geek,Rants — galewis @ 2:27 pm

Every time my brother sends a message with an attachment to my Gmail account, the attachment comes across as ‘noname’ and can’t be opened. This has gone on for literally months — maybe years. I’ve written to the GMail team more than once asking, “When are you guys going to get this fixed?” No response. The post on their support site says “This is a known issue, and our engineers are working to resolve it as quickly as possible.” Yeah, right: that post was last updated in May, 2007. Not sure that qualifies as “as quickly as possible,” guys.

nonameSo today I’m noodling around in Gmail and see a link to the Official Gmail Blog with some helpful information. I click and read. Good stuff. Then my eye spies a Search box in the upper-right-hand corner (“Powered by Google!” it crows). “Aha!” I think to myself, “Maybe this site has a clue as to what’s up with the ‘noname’ bug!” I enter my search term — “noname” — and click the Search button.

Nothing happens. No hits.

I try again. (You know: “Maybe I didn’t click the button,” or “Maybe my eyes missed something.”)

Nothing. The page doesn’t change.

I try a different search term, “forward.” A raft of returned search results display.

I try another search term, “archive.” Bingo — lots of hits.

I try “noname” again, and the page reverts to the original “no hits” view. At first I thought there must be some conspiracy afoot — some evil little piece of code lurking in the background, waiting for someone like me to search for “noname” so that it could taunt me with nothingness — and then I searched for “gleaming aspic” and got bupkis with that, too. So my conspiracy theory was shot.

Still… what’s going on, Gmail? And what about you other Gmail users out there? I’m having a hard time believing no one else but me on the planet is having trouble with this same thing. I run into this problem on nearly a daily basis. How can it be that it’s taking your team so long to fix this problem?

Other features are great. I love them. More space is wonderful. I’ll use it. But don’t you think you should first fix existing problems before rolling out enhancements?

C’mon, Gmail team. I mean… c’mon already!


  1. http://www.jquery.info/noname/



    Hope that helps.

    Comment by A concerned gmailer — January 27, 2008 @ 12:21 am

  2. Yeah, it helps… so thanks for the post. But it’s still a hassle.

    One of the above sites mentions that this happens when a user sends the attachment from a Mac. Maybe, but my brother hasn’t ever been within 400 yards of a Mac.

    Comment by Grant — January 27, 2008 @ 12:45 am

  3. Yeah, I can’t believe this. I mean if it’s simply a matter of running a little script, why can’t they incorporate that into gmail? Pathetic, everything my boss sends me gets corrupted.

    Comment by disaster — May 14, 2008 @ 11:21 am

  4. I’m having the same problem… but not with my old PC running XP… My new computer runs xp as well and all of a sudden I’m having this problem when sending attachments from my Palm phone.

    Comment by Nancy Muldoon — May 28, 2008 @ 7:19 am

  5. I too just started having this problem with emails received from my Dad, it may be coincidence, but he also just changed his ISP and email address from Comcast to Embarq. I never saw this problem from his previous email address and I am not seeing it from anyone else’s emails.

    GMail needs to get with it and get a fix out there for this. What an annoyance!

    Comment by Shulker — June 16, 2008 @ 9:25 am

  6. I have exactly the same problem, I would say sporadically in the past, but now recurring.
    Like everyone else, I’m amazed that Google/GMAIL haven’t resolved.
    I certainly don’t like the idea of sending professional files to another website to have them rendered legible.
    Can’t we get a campaign going….

    Comment by michael mcwilliams — June 28, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

  7. I too have exactly the same problem and it;s been there for a couple of years – it’s literally gobsmacking that a company with the technology and resources that Google has, have allowed this to continue for so long but then their support is non existent – I’ve never had a reply when I’ve contacted them – guess it’s because it’s free but I honestly couldn’t recommend the product to anyone even though I soldier on with it myself – mainly cos all my emails are in there!

    Comment by Simon — July 1, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

  8. I am having the same problem; it is frustrating; I have to keep a yahoo address just to handle this issue; It has been a LONG time; so maybe they don’t really care about their gmail customers once an account has been opened…Senders think it is something wrong with what I am doing, they can’t believe its google!!!!

    Comment by Brenda — July 4, 2008 @ 10:42 pm

  9. Here’s another workaround for the noname attachment problem:

    1) On the Mac sender side: Duplicate the file and rename it with a .jpg extension.
    2) Send it on over.
    3) Download the file from gmail onto your desktop and rename it back to its proper file extension. In my case, .doc.

    — J

    Comment by J — August 22, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

  10. If you’re sending from a Mac to Gmail it is best to only use numbers and letters in the email and make sure the Windows Friendly box is checked. (You don’t get this option if you drag and drop.) You should also not put any spaces in a file name, use “_” instead. Remember no quotes!


    Comment by Frank — September 23, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

  11. Thanks, Frank, for your input. It may be that your suggestion provides a workaround for the time being, but it’s frustrating to me that a process as simple as this requires casting runes and dark magic, y’know? Good programming meets people where they are. It doesn’t ask them to make fundamental changes to accommodate an environment’s eccentricities. It’s unfeasible to expect that people will “check the rulebook” before doing something as simple as sending an email message. People are going to behave as people do: unpredictably. A sound process is one that attempts to make allowances and adapt accordingly.

    Now it’s only fair for me to admit that it’s been literally months since I last ran into the problem. I successfully receive email attachments from my brother all the time now without a hitch. So maybe the problem’s solved…?

    Comment by Grant — September 23, 2008 @ 7:33 pm

  12. Although it’s been a long time since this bug bit me, bit me again it did this morning. I tried both of the solutions given by “A concerned gmailer” listed in his comment above. The first one didn’t work: w/couldn’t be downloaded after conversion. But the second one worked… with some adaptation to his instructions. Rather than saving the “noname” file to the Desktop, save it to your Mac’s home folder.

    Comment by Grant — January 6, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  13. I just want to reiterate what Grant said, this works.

    Follow this link and save the noname file in your home folder, run the script in terminal and blamo! a working file… sweet!


    Comment by Adam — January 8, 2009 @ 10:07 am

  14. I’ve had this same problem for years everytime my mom sends me an email with an attachment. It always shows up as noname
    I think that typically these emails are forwarded by her though, they arent originating from her. The last two have certainly been forwards but I think it has the same problem if she originated the message.

    Comment by matt — February 28, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  15. oh and she doesn’t use a mac either, she uses outlook 2003 with hotmail..

    Comment by matt — February 28, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

  16. I have the same problem, recieving messages from my Dad’s machine running Outlook on XP

    Comment by Dan — April 22, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

  17. A simple workaround to decoding these files is to download the file to your desktop, rename the file (actually add a file extension of) .UUE to the noname file and open it using WinZip. WinZip will break up the message into it’s constituent parts giving you message body and attachments separately in the WinZip interface, from which you can extract them.

    Works well for me!…..

    Comment by Shane — August 26, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  18. From what Ive been able to tell, I get this when my mom forwards a message from her yahoo account. Its openable in outlook, and has a outlook format, but in gmail, problems.
    On a side note, the second link doesnt exist any more and the first does essentially the same thing as “view as text” does.
    Come on gmail, catch up. Why is there anything that yahoo can do that gmail cant?

    Comment by tj — October 26, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  19. I have the same problem only with one contact in my Gmail acct. I receive it both on my Mac laptop and my Dell Desktop. She is not using gamil nor a Mac. Can’t seem to iron out the problem. Please help!! Thanks!

    Comment by Ms. Gail — December 5, 2009 @ 1:08 am

  20. its already in 2010, but the problem is still occur. recently i got email from my friend with attachment. But somehow, i always receive the noname attachment. it really distub.. oh gmail support, when do u guys will repair it.. :(

    Comment by Smurf06 — February 15, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

  21. Cyberspace – the great liberator.
    Yet my wife cannot forward a document to me from the room next to me!!!
    “noname’ constantly for yonks past.
    Where are all those computer buffs????????????????

    Comment by TOPCAT — February 18, 2010 @ 3:59 am

  22. The ones I’ve seen are embedded email messages. Like you’d get with a “forward as attachment” from outlook express. If you download the noname file and rename it to include a .eml extension you should be able to double click on the file and it open up on outlook express. Firefox appears to be smart enough to figure this out and supplies the .eml extension.

    Comment by Ben — May 14, 2010 @ 10:40 am

  23. I guess that’s okay for a workaround, but I’d just as soon not have to install additional software (Outlook Express) just to solve the occasional Gmail glitch.

    Comment by Grant — May 14, 2010 @ 10:48 am

  24. I have this problem too. And whenever it happens, I have to forward this email to some other email boxes of mine, such as qq.com, which is able to display such kind of attachment properly (it turned out to be .eml attachment).

    Comment by Yiteng — June 27, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

  25. I am able to open “noname” attachments in a round about way.
    1. Choose Download
    2. Choose to open with Outlook Express. Outlook Express will open, with nothing on it.
    3. Close out of Outlook Express and your “Download” window should appear. If not, click on the minimized “Downloads” bar at the bottom to bring it up.
    4. The ‘noname” file should appear at the top of the Download list. Double click on the file and Outlook Express should open back up with the email. Aften there are attachments that will show up in the attachment window at the top. You can double click on the attachment to view it.
    5. IMPORTANT – When you are finished viewing the email and attachments, close out of Outlook Express and return to the “Downloads” Window. Right click on “noname” and choose to open the containing folder. When the Temp folder opens, the “noname” file will be highlighted. Delete the “noname” file from the temp folder by hitting the delete key. When you return to the Download Window, also delete the “noname” file from the Download Window by hitting the delete key. If you fail to do these two deletes, the next time you try to open a “nomame” file attachment, you will see the one you previously viewed.

    Good Luck……….

    Comment by Bob — July 12, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

  26. this problem is a few years old and still not fixed?? wow

    I thought it was my dad doing something that attachments in my Gmail came out as noname

    in my case they contain a URI if pasted to Firefox you get the intended attachment file.

    example a pdf

    data:application/octet-stream;base64,Here insert the long string which can be found in the noname once you open it in Notepad

    Comment by someone — November 30, 2010 @ 8:50 am


    I can’t believe it’s that hard for Google to fix this problem.

    Comment by dennis — July 9, 2011 @ 2:56 am

  28. Well, here it is – tomorrow is December 1 2011, and still Google has not dealt with this issue, which apparently is huge for hundreds, thousands, or who knows how many people. It continues to affect me in being unable to get email attachments from a close friend.

    And yes, this problem has been going on for literally years! Google, where are your priorities? Obviously not with any real customer service. I am very disappointed, and find I am relying more and more on an alternate email site, because of this problem.

    So here is my solution – vote with your cyber-feet, people, and choose another email service if you have this problem. If there are enough of us leaving GMail, perhaps Google will wake up and actually do something – but it has to hit their pocketbook first, as unfortunately, it seems to be all about the money these days.

    Of course there have to be enough of us to make a mass exodus from GMail to actually make someone there notice, and don’t know if this is possible, but worth a shot perhaps.

    Comment by Eileen — November 30, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

  29. I open the file using Mozilla Thunderbird, but is really an annoying bug that Google needs to resolve quickly.

    Comment by davilima — March 15, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

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