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Microsoft KB Archive/170599

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Knowledge Base

Article ID: 170599

Article Last Modified on 1/20/2007


  • Microsoft Outlook 97 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q170599


If you attempt to open an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file attachment that you received in a Microsoft Outlook 97 mail message, you may receive the following Acrobat Reader error message:

There was an error opening this document. File does not begin with '%PDF-'

This error occurs even if you have the Acrobat Reader installed on your computer.


The attached file is not in Acrobat PDF format. The Acrobat Reader expects the first characters of a valid PDF file to contain the following text string:


If the sender used an attachment encoding method that is not recognized by Outlook, such as BinHex, the file string begins with:

(This file must be converted with BinHex 4.0)

To determine if the sender used BinHex encoding, follow the steps in the More Information section below.


Have the sender change their mail attachment encoding method from BinHex to UUencode or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) before sending the e-mail message with the attachment. BinHex encoding is a common format used by Macintosh mail systems and is also available with the Eudora Pro mail program. Consult the documentation for your particular e-mail program on how to set the encoding format.

Some Internet Service Providers (ISP) do not support receiving MIME encoded attachments. If this is the case for your ISP, the attachment may appear in the body of the E-mail message as encoded text. If you have this symptom, you can only receive UUencoded e-mail attachments.


Use these steps to determine if your file attachment is in BinHex format or in Acrobat Reader PDF format:

  1. Drag the file attachment to the Windows Desktop.
  2. Using your right mouse button click the Desktop file and from the context-sensitive menu click Rename.
  3. Type Test.txt as the new file name and press ENTER. Click Yes to a prompt about the file becoming unusable if you change the file extension.
  4. On the Desktop, double click Test.txt to open the file in NotePad.
  5. If the file is in BinHex format, the first line starts with:

    (This file must be converted with BinHex 4.0)

    If the file is in Acrobat PDF format, the first line starts with:


Eudora Pro is manufactured by Qualcomm, a vendor independent of Microsoft; we make no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding this product's performance or reliability.

Adobe Acrobat Reader is manufactured by Adobe Systems Inc., a vendor independent of Microsoft; we make no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding this product's performance or reliability.


For more information on issues with Macintosh file attachments and Outlook, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

165115 OL97: Outlook Problems Handling Macintosh File Attachments

Additional query words: wincode binhex stuffit lite light mac

Keywords: kb3rdparty kbprb KB170599