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Microsoft KB Archive/170516

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Knowledge Base

Microsoft Exchange Client Unable to Print Message w/ Attachment

Article ID: 170516

Article Last Modified on 11/1/2006


  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51

This article was previously published under Q170516


When a user chooses to print a mail message with a file attachment, the user may optionally choose to print the attachment as well. In cases where the user chooses to print the attachment, and the application responsible for printing the attachment is running, the file attachment may not print properly.

The user may see a message such as this:

Microsoft WordErr=1078
This file could not be found.(C:\temp\document.doc)


On computers running Windows NT 3.51, the Microsoft Exchange client calls a Windows NT system function that is responsible for printing the file attachment using whatever application has registered itself to handle this document (based on the attachment's file extension).

The Microsoft Exchange client saves the document attachment in a temporary directory and calls the Windows NT system function, passing it the path to the document to print.

If the application necessary for printing the document is not running, the following operations are performed by the system function:

  1. The application necessary to print the document is started.
  2. The application is passed information on the command-line regarding the name of the file to print.
  3. The application is closed after printing is complete.

If the application necessary for printing the document is currently running, the following operations are performed by the system function:

  1. The system function initiates a Windows DDE conversation with the application.
  2. The application is asked (through DDE) to open, print, and close the document.

After the system call is performed, the Microsoft Exchange client deletes the temporary file created for printing the attachment.

A race condition exists where, in the latter case (using DDE), the temporary file is deleted BEFORE the application has had an opportunity to print the document, which usually results in the application complaining that the file is missing.


Close the application(s) that will be used to print the file attachments before beginning the print operation.


Microsoft has confirmed this to be a problem in Windows NT version 3.51.

A supported fix is now available, but has not been fully regression-tested and should be applied only to systems experiencing this specific problem. Unless you are severely impacted by this specific problem, Microsoft recommends that you wait for the next Service Pack that contains this fix. Contact Microsoft Technical Support for more information.

Additional query words: SHELL32 printing print failure

Keywords: kbbug kbfix kbprint kbui KB170516