Remove Errant Paper-Clip Icons from E-mail Messages


 Recently all my e-mail messages arrive adorned with a paper-clip icon—the image that indicates a file has been attached. But usually there is no attachment. It’s kind of spooky. Am I being hacked? Is someone playing a joke on me? More important, how can I remove the paper clip?

No, you’re not being hacked; and it’s not a joke. More likely it’s a bug. There are at least two possible causes for the appearance of the icon. If your e-mail software gives you the option of receiving mail in plain text rather than the more graphical HTML, switching the default to HTML may resolve the problem. What may be happening is that some graphical code embedded in the plain text is being interpreted—or actually misinterpreted— as an attachment.

To change the setting in Outlook, go to Tools, Options, Mail Format, and under Message format click on the down arrow to produce a dropdown list with three choices (see screenshot below). Select HTML and then click on OK at the bottom of the screen.

The other possibility is something I experienced because I use AVG Anti-Virus software. That product gives users the option of “certifying” incoming e-mail as virus-free—that is, it provides a visual all-clear message, and that’s been triggering the attachment icon. You can turn off that option without risk. Here’s how: Run the AVG Control Center, click on the Scanner button, Properties, Configure, and then uncheck the box for Outgoing “certify mail.”


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