For the last one hour, I have battled with finding a way to send a PDF file as an email attachment on a Windows Phone 7 smartphone. I have Googled and Binged – and finally puked (no; that is not a new search engine)! There is no solution anywhere. It CANNOT be done.

Windows Phone – the mobile platform for photo enthusiasts

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I have complained about the limitations of Windows Phone before. I doubt that those limitations are new to anyone who has followed Mobility for at least a year. So, why am I doing this again? Perhaps it is that I am becoming a nag. Or I am getting old. Or perhaps it is because I just keep getting frustrated at how lame some of the limitations of Windows Phone are. If you are new to Mobility and to Windows Phone, grab a seat. If you’ve heard a different version of this rant before, please humour me.

For the last one hour, I have battled with finding a way to send a PDF file as an email attachment on a Windows Phone 7 smartphone. I have Googled and Binged – and finally puked (no; that’s not a new search engine)! There is no solution anywhere. It CANNOT be done. When you try to attach a file after composing an email, the only file option you can attach are photos. Images. PDF files cannot be done. To attach a simple PDF file! In 2013! What the gadzooks!!

Yes; you can also attach an Office document from inside the Office Hub but not from inside an email that you are responding to. Idiotic, really. Absolutely counter-productive. You have typed out your response to a mail in full, and then remember that you cannot attach an Office document from the mail menu. So, you head for the Office Hub to start afresh – not as a reply, but as a new email. Idiotic isn’t strong enough a word to describe this process. This is 2013 when everyone is talking about user friendliness and Windows Phone simply turns a simple process on its head. If you send me a PDF file in an email, I can download and read if I have Adobe Reader installed. That’s it. I cannot respond with one of mine.

Dropbox to the rescue?

I thought perhaps I could use Dropbox to share the said PDF file instead, so I launched the Dropbox app I use. It is named BoxShot. The next step would be to upload the PDF to Dropbox. Again, the only upload option I get is photos! Perhaps that is a limitation of the particular Dropbox app I have running, but I am too tired from all the going up and down to download, install and try every Dropbox app in the Marketplace to find out which one works as I want. I have work to do.

Shall we just call Windows Phone the smartphone platform for photo enthusiasts! Oh yes. That is because everywhere I turn, the only files that one seems to be able to do anything with without launching into a complicated process are images. Photos. Windows Phone is not (yet) a business platform. It is for people who want to share photos – via email, DropBox and even Facebook. The integration is superb. If you need to respond on the go to people with documents on a regular basis, this is no platform for you.

As it is, you should purchase a Windows Phone smartphone for your son and another for your daughter. It should work well for them. They will love the colourful hardware too. Perfect. But Windows Phone is no platform for anyone who has serious business emailing to do. At least not yet.


  1. Actually if you use the default pdf app (the one by Microsoft)you can email pdf’s through SkyDrive right from the app. So say the pdf is in your mailbox, you can open it and then share with SkyDrive. If the pdf is already on your phone or already in your SkyDrive then you can attach it (yes pdfs) right in the email from the office hub. No replacement for old school attaching straight from the email but still….doable.

  2. If the pdf is already on your phone….then you can attach it (yes pdfs) right in the email from the office hub.

    Hello Nonso,

    The above is not working for me. I have a couple of PDF that I THINK are on my phone but they do not show up when I go to Office -> Locations -> Phone -> Documents. All I see are options for Excel, PowerPoint and Word. What I have here is the reader by Adobe Systems. What’s the name of the version by Microsoft?

    A few more questions:
    1. When one opens an attached PDF in a mail, does it get saved on the phone? There’s so much kludge here. If it doesn’t get saved automatically, how does one get it saved? I have hunted for options to save and found none yet.

    2. If I receive a PDF attachment in a mail, how do I save it to SkyDrive?


  3. I’m so holding on to my beloved BlackBerry, sometimes old things ‘just work’!

  4. Hmmm. It is information like this, although not new in this case, that make me appreciate a site like Mobility Blog.

    Imagine spending good money on a WP7 flagship, and finding out such a limitation!

    I just wonder why …..never mind!

  5. This is a tough one, but if the Windows Phone 7 has a sharing option, maybe it can be used to achieve some of these.

    The good news(?) is that there is the Windows Phone 8 to address some of these shortcomings but may still not be enough. Windows Phone is certainly not ready yet to compete with the established and dominant two, i.e. Android and iOS because it is deficient in so many areas that’s already taken for granted even in the outdated Symbian platform. Too bad.

  6. I think the pdfs have to be saved in your documents folder in your phone. Not just anywhere. Pdfs you open from your email don’t get saved to the phone and for some weird reason don’t show up in the office hub > email section even though office docs show up there. With the reader app by Microsoft if you tap on the three dots and then share, the option to share via SkyDrive saves it to SkyDrive first before asking you to share. The link to the app is here:

    Yes I wish Microsoft just made it easier for everybody by making pdf’s work just like .docx and .xlsx do. Hopefully soon.

  7. Nonso,

    Thanks for the info. Much appreciated. I’m laughing at how ridiculous this whole thing is though. Microsoft just needs to sort this out. I can’t deal.

  8. My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was entirely right.
    This post truly made my day. You can not imagine just how
    much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

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