I use Mail.app on Lion with Classic View enabled so it works like it did in Snow Leopard.

When an email comes in with an attachment, I used to be able to select one or more attachments and drag them to my desktop. In Lion, it looks like I have to click "Save" and then choose a location for the file.

How can I drag and drop email attachments in Lion?

If the answer is I can't, then can someone explain why the change? Having to click the "save" drop down, click an attachment, choose a directory in the pop-up, and then click the "save" button is much more work than drag-and-drop (and it feels decidedly Windows-esq, frankly).

  • I just tried it in classic mode and didn't run into any problems dragging an attachment from a mail to the Desktop. Which problems are you running into?
    – nohillside
    Oct 26, 2011 at 19:11
  • I'm using Mail on Lion. When I look at the email I have two buttons on the right side of the email header, "Save" with a drop down and "Quick Look". When I click 'save', a list of attachments drops down. I can click on an attachment and I'm prompted to save it somewhere. If I attempt to drag-and-drop the attachment to the desktop, it won't let me grab it, I simply can't select it. Am I doing something wrong? Oct 27, 2011 at 17:59
  • The attachment should be displayed as part of the mail text as well (probably at the end), either as an icon or as an inline image. I usually just drag this icon out.
    – nohillside
    Oct 27, 2011 at 18:09
  • Ah! Ok. I always dragged the attachments from the list next to the paper click on Snow Leopard. Oct 28, 2011 at 12:22

3 Answers 3


To illustrate the point made in the comments, just drag the icon (or the inlined image) from the mail body to wherever you want: enter image description here

  • Thanks. In previous OS X versions, the attachment were displayed as icons next to the paper clip and I would drag them from there. Oct 28, 2011 at 12:26

I had this problem and tried restarting Finder in the Force Quit menu, and my drag/drop functionality came back.

  • Force quit option worked for me as well, thank you sooooooooo much.
    – user36200
    Dec 7, 2012 at 17:07

I had a similar problem when doing a complete hard drive erase and reinstalling Lion and all other software including Mail.

When Mail was launched for the first time I was unable to drag and drop attachments anywhere - Finder nor desktop.

Usually at the top of an email with attachments there are buttons with save options. This button was not visible.

Above where buttons usually appear there are two hyperlinked text options. If you click the 'details' link, buttons re-appear. For some reason this was stopping the drag and drop option from working - now it works fine.

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