All Internet e-mail services have limits on how big an attachment can be when it is sent over e-mail. If you want to send a large attachment over e-mail (e.g., over 20 MB), you'll need to use a different method of sharing it. If you are using an e-mail service, such as Gmail, and you are sending a large attachment to someone on a small ISP, it may not go through as their incoming attachment size may be smaller.

What happens when I send an attachment that is too big?

If you send an attachment that is too big, you may receive a bounce back from the e-mail service with one of the following errors.

Note: It is also possible that a service may drop an e-mail, which means your recipient will not receive the message you sent, and you will not be notified.

Too big of attachment e-mail errors

  • 552: Message size exceeds maximum permitted.
  • Attachment size exceeds the allowable limit.
  • System Undeliverable, message size exceeds outgoing message size limit.
  • The size of the message you are trying to send exceeds the global size limit of the server. The message was not sent; reduce the message size and try again.

What services can I use for big attachments?

The service you use depends on the type of file you want to share and what your recipient has access to on their computer or device. Below is a list of services in our recommended order.

ServiceAccepted files and advantages
Google DriveToday, it's common to have a Google account for at least one of their many services. It permits access to Google Drive, which provides 15 GB of free storage with a proprietary interface and some specific limitations.
DropboxDropbox is another excellent service that comes with a free 2 GB and the ability to earn up to 16 GB of free storage. Also, with a Dropbox account, you can share files with other people who do not have one.
YouTubeIf you want to attach a video, there is no better online service than YouTube. Also, what most people don't realize is that YouTube videos can be made private which means only people who you share the video link with can view it.
OneDriveMicrosoft Windows 8, Windows 10, and Office365 users have access to OneDrive(formerly known as SkyDrive) that gives access to 5 GB of free storage and an easy way to share big files that cannot be sent over e-mail as an attachment. If you have subscribed to Office365, you have 1 TB of storage.