Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Really? Do you want to? I strongly offer an alternative to auto-play in an email.

I want to embed a musical track into an email on Yahoo, which plays on opening. I have followed all kinds of instruction on how to do this without success. Various suggestions had me entering certain instructions into the signature of mail options. Nothing happened so I must be doing something wrong. Two points: I'm not clear on is where I'm supposed to enter a 'source code' for the mp3 track and where do I find that? Or how do I upload the track to a server? I can't get Filezilla to work; I'm getting the error "Connection timed out."

In this excerpt from Answercast #28, I look at the difficulties in adding auto-play to music in an email and why I'm glad it's so difficult!

Autoplay from an online source

I can't really help you with the Filezilla part because you didn't indicate where you're storing this. Normally, if you want to upload a file, that means you need to have some kind of online storage.

For small things like this, I typically recommend people go out and use Dropbox. The files that you upload via Dropbox can be made available through URLs, which could then be used as you are trying to use them.

Inserting audio into an email

That being said, I believe what you are attempting to do is doomed for failure. I also believe that it should be doomed for failure... but that's a matter of personal opinion that I'll get to in a second.

The problem is that the different ways to embed sound into email are not consistent.

  • They are not standard.

  • They are not going to work everywhere.

As you've seen, it's already very fragile. It's very complex and difficult to make it happen.

So, "I don't have an answer for you," is what I'm trying to say. I really don't have an answer that says, "This is how you embed music into an email so that it plays automatically when people open the email."

Give them a link

What I suggest you do instead is simply have a link to the mp3 and say, "Hey, if you want to hear this, click on this link," and let people control when that music gets played.

And that actually gets me to my final point, the opinion piece of this little response and that is:

  • What I think you're doing is wrong, fundamentally wrong.

Sudden computer sounds

One of the most annoying things on the internet are web pages that start to play music or start to play sound the moment you get to them. The same is true for email.

Imagine this: you are a parent at home. It's quiet. It's late at night. The baby is sleeping next to you. The dogs are sleeping around you. You navigate to a web page, you open an email and all of a sudden, it starts playing sound. Boom! The baby's awake! The dogs are barking!

  • Peace and harmony have been completely and utterly destroyed just because you felt it was so important that your music or your sound play immediately!

Put it in the control of the recipient; give them a Play button; give them a way to play the music. If they want to hear it, they will hear it. If they don't want to hear it, don't force it on them. Please don't do that.

And, like I said, fortunately for better or for worse, I'm not even sure how to do that in an email... but it's not something I suggest you even attempt to do.

Article C5494 - June 20, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

June 22, 2012 8:27 AM

From experience, it can also be pretty bad for headphone users. True story: I was working on something where the audio file was rather quiet (on purpose) and I had the volume way up so I could hear it. It was processing or doing something when I decided to go check something else online. Normally I have AdBlock Plus but the site had never had bad advertisements before, so ...


I put the site back on ABP and contacted the website owners because they said to do that if annoying ads happened and fortunately for me they took me seriously.

June 22, 2012 9:03 AM

And all this time I thought I was the only one who hated unsolicited "noise" from emails and web pages.

Lee Kline
June 22, 2012 6:13 PM

From the other side of the fence. I loved that feature in outlook express. My Christmas emails played Christmas music, my birthday emails played Happy Birthday. I never had anyone complain. A simple MIDI file did the trick.

No one complained *to you*. But that doesn't mean that they appreciated it. I don't always complain when I get stuff that annoys me, simply because I don't want to stress the friendship. Once again I *strongly* recommend that you NEVER do this.

Tom Dees
June 23, 2012 10:03 PM

Leo you are are so right about this! My hi-school graduating class of 1968 has a website. When it opens it plays our alma mater on a loop. It gets downright sickening as there is no button to stop it! Yet the administrator complains that no one is visiting the site, duh! Sure one can just hit the mute button but thats not the point. Its annoying!

Billy Bob
June 24, 2012 7:00 PM

Agree with Leo and most of the above. No site or email should ever make noise without permission.

When I am browsing a news site, I frequently select several stories to "open in a new tab" but don't immediately switch to those tabs. It's extremely annoying if one of those new tabs starts making noise and I have to hunt down the source of the noise.

July 6, 2012 8:51 AM

Amen! When the noise starts I exit ASAP. I don't ever go back.

August 3, 2012 12:01 PM

My husband is stationed in Afghanistan. My children are too young to type emails / write letters. I am trying to send 8 to 30 seconds snippets of them talking. His computer has sound but cannot access any media player software so he cannot hear the .wav files I send him. I am searching for a way for the .wav to play directly from yahoo email which is why I am trying to embed sound into email.

It is too bad that everyone seems more interested in correcting Internet manners then providing real solutions for people. Just answer the person's question clearly and concisely. A one line warning at the beginning of this article would have been much more helpful then weaving the doom and gloom judgements throughout the article.

August 3, 2012 12:03 PM

PS - subject line would inform him of the audio file so he would not be "surprised" by audio when opening it.

Ronald Jenkins
August 14, 2012 10:41 PM

I agree with Toni, I would like to be able to get music playing when i send an E_Mail, I think it's a cool idea, I know my friends so i know when they check their E_Mails for the most part, So I know when to send them with the music or not to!! Once i do it a couple of times i would probably stop doing it, and move on to my next challenge!!!! ;-)

Ronald Jenkins
August 14, 2012 10:45 PM

Sorry, I Read It Wrong, I Agree With Millie!! :-(

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