Have you ever received an email from your boss, family member, friend or some other connection with an attachment in it, then saved that email because you wanted to access the attachment later? You probably have, multiple times. The problem with this is you end up with an astronomical amount of attachments floating all over your inbox that you have to hunt down whenever you want them.
Well hunt no more. There’s a solution that integrates right into Gmail and makes it extremely easy to find all of your attachments in one place and also in multiple places at the same time. It can also connect to Dropbox, Box and Google Drive.
Setting Up Attachments.me
The installation of the service is very simple. It walks you through the entire process and introduces you to all the features. This doesn’t take much time and I encourage you to take the tour. But first, we must get the Google Chrome or Firefox extension. Attachments.me is currently only available for Google Chrome and Firefox (sorry IE, Opera and Safari users), but, according to a tweet on their Twitter account, they are working on some new improvements. It is also available as an app for the iPhone.
Once you install the extension, open Gmail and you’ll automatically be prompted to start learning about it.
Once you start the tour, you should receive an email.
When you are going through the process you will be prompted to allow access to your Gmail and any of the cloud storage services that you decide to use with it. Go ahead and allow access, otherwise it has no way of communicating with these other accounts.
Save Options Within Opened Emails
When you open up an email with an attachment in it, Attachments.me will automatically detect it and make it appear in the top right corner of the page. As you can see in the screenshot above, this is the email from Attachments.me sent during the tour. You have the option to download the attachments – this is very convenient when there is an entire email conversation that has an attachment somewhere, but it is in a message that you would have had to find by opening all the threads instead of simply downloading it on the side.
The other option, of course, is saving it to the cloud. Attachments.me automatically saves your attachments to the cloud. You’ll see this if you go to http://attachments.me while logged into Gmail. However, I will touch upon the web interface later. Aside from saving directly within Attachments.me you can also save to your Dropbox, Box and Google Drive Accounts.
Linking To Cloud Services
Linking to the different services is pretty straightforward. Simply click the button to link your account and follow the prompts to allow Attachments.me to access the services. In the example below, you can see that I only have my Google Drive connected, but you can virtually have them all connected to Attachments.me, providing that you have accounts with them all first.
Adjusting Cloud Storage Rules
Attachments.me is great because it gathers up all of your attachments in one place and syncs them to your other services, but it actually does more than that. It actually creates filters of sorts, or what it calls “rules.” This allows you to set specific rules for it to follow.
For example, let’s say you’re working on a new project with your boss. Instead of the hassle of downloading each attachment, then moving it it out of your downloads folder to another folder on your computer, you can create a rule that automatically sends the attachment to Google Drive, Dropbox or Box.
Better yet, you can also specify a specific folder so that attachments from that sender will always go to that folder.
If you ever need to change the rule to add an additional email recipient or to adjust anything else, simply select the rule and click modify.
Searching For Attachments
Attachments.me makes searching for attachments within Gmail pretty slick. It’s integrated directly into the search field in Gmail.
Changing Account Settings & Adding More Rules
You may have noticed by now that you have a new blue button with a paperclip near your name on the Gmail search bar. This is where you can go to give feedback, disable your account, access the website and manage your rules and cloud services.
This is perhaps the most useful feature – the ability to attach files from your cloud services.
Once you connect your cloud services you can click the link to any of them and look through your folders without ever opening a new tab in your browser. This saves a huge amount of time instead of having to find the file on your computer and upload or drag and drop it into Gmail. Sure you could copy the share link from a file one of your services too, but this is still quicker and easier.
Please note though that this only inserts a link for the attachment. The recipient can then access the file via the link and download it from there if they desire.
Aside from Gmail, there is also a web interface that allows you to easily view all of your attachments – which is nice, but it also provides an excellent place to search for your attachments. Yes, you can search for them in Gmail, and that’s great, but sometimes it’s nice to have more screen space – this does just that.
When searching for attachments you can select specific accounts to look in and specific files to look for. You can also bookmark the search for later reference.
The search treats each word as an individual search. If you type cool funny cat, you will get three “tags” each representing it’s own search. If one of these tags is throwing off your search – let’s say funny is, then click the “x” beside the word and it will be removed from the search. If you want to perform that same search with all three words being one complete search, place quotes around them. It would look like this: “cool funny cat” – just like a Google search.
When you hover an image, attachment details such as the sender’s email address, date it was received and the complete file name is displayed. There are four options that are also displayed:
- Trash (a.k.a. Archive)
When “View” is clicked, the file details will be displayed below the attachment. These include the email address that it was sent to, when the attachment was received by you, the type and size of the file, and a link to the original email the attachment was received by.
Using Attachments.me With Non-Gmail Accounts
Gmail is currently the only service that Attachments.me works with. However, there is a workaround (unless it’s with a Yahoo account). You can actually forward your emails into Gmail. To do this go to Settings > Accounts and Import. Then under “Import mail and contacts” (the second column down), click “Import from another address.” Enter your email address and login credentials and you should be on your way to getting your mail all in one place. I highly recommend doing this if you have multiple email accounts, regardless of whether or not you are using Attachments.me.
If you are going to forward your email addresses to Gmail, you might as well send emails from Gmail with them too. This option is right under “Import mail and contacts” called “Send mail as:” Click the link “Add another email address you own,” enter the email address and then send the verification. There are two additional options:
- Reply from the same address the message was sent to
- Always reply from default address
I suggest checking “Reply from the same address the message was sent to” to prevent accidentally sending an email from a different address than it was sent to and then confusing the recipient, but this is entirely up to you.
There you have it – the new revolution of email attachments. Personally, I see this as a game-changer in all email clients, and an even better reason to use Gmail if you already are not. At first I thought it was just a simple extension that I wouldn’t really use, but as I discovered more and more features, I realized that this can be a valuable tool for everyone who uses email – and seriously, who doesn’t use email?
Do you have another current frustration with the email process? Have you discovered a solution for the problem?
For more on mastering Gmail, check out MakeUseOf’s Ultimate Guide To Gmail.