An easy way to get email attachments into Dropbox

May 1, 2012 by

email attachment

 

I’m a big fan of Dropbox to store and sync files across multiple computers and mobile devices. While I primarily use Box, I appreciate the simple and intuitive interface that Dropbox presents. Box has one feature I really wish Dropbox had though: the ability send an email to Dropbox with a file attached and for that file to be automatically uploaded to a Dropbox folder.

It would be helpful to be able to forward or BCC Dropbox on an email and have the attachment stored in Dropbox without extra steps. While are a few third-party sites out there that offer this functionality, I’ll show you what I think is the easiest solution using a very helpful site called ifttt.com (If This Then That). ifttt.com is a web based workflow tool that lets you trigger certain actions using a variety of web apps. If you’ve never tried ifttt.com, setting it up to upload email attachments to Dropbox is a good place to start.

6 step setup:

  1. Click on this task recipe I’ve shared: http://ifttt.com/recipes/32391 (will open in a new wind0w)
  2. Click Use. Either logon to an existing IFTTT account or create a new one. (If you are creating a new account, use the same email address you’ll most often be sending email attachments from. Then scroll down to the bottom of the welcome page and click on the blue Back to Recipe button.)
  3. Click the blue Activate button below the Dropbox icon to authorize use with IFTTT
  4. Click Use Recipe button to activate
  5. In your email address book, create a contact named ifttt and set the email address to trigger@ifttt.com
  6. Login to your Dropbox account, click the new folder icon and name the new folder emailattachments

To test:

  1. Create an email to send to ifttt, put the tag #dropbox in the subject or body and attach a file. Send the email.
  2. Go back to ifttt.com, click on the blue Your Tasks link, click the blue arrow next to the labeled “Upload an email attachment to Dropbox”
  3. Click the check now button. You should see a message below the button that changes to “…last triggered 1 minute ag0.”
  4. Verify that the file you attached to the test email is in the emailattachments folder on Dropbox.

 

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Posted in: Technology

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  • M

    This is great, but is there a way to make it work with e-mails that have more than 1 attachment? (It only seems to save the 1st).

    • http://www.itsworthnoting.com Levi Smith

      That is a an IFTTT limitation, which I will add to the post. I’ve submitted a feature request to IFTTT to handle more than one attachment at a time.

      Levi

  • jansh

    I love IFTTT, but this recipe has one limitation: all emails must come from yourself. In my use case, I want an email address like billing@mycompany.com to forward all attachments to a dropbox folder. The senders are different companies and services we work with. So this would not work with this approach :(

    FWIW, I’ve written a blog article about an alternative approach that accomodates this. It requires some Linux hacking though: http://pln.io/STBRbS

    • http://www.itsworthnoting.com Levi Smith

      You are correct about the limitation. Thanks for the link with additional steps for those who are looking for a work around.

  • Neeraj

    i am creating one app where there willbe transactions and documents realted to a transaction, each transaction will have unique dynamically generated email and if user sends attachmetns to that email the documents will be stored under that transaction.

    Let me know your thoughts on this and how can this be achieved.

    Thanks

    • http://www.itsworthnoting.com/ Levi Smith

      This IFTTT recipe only works if the email comes from you, so depending on how you’re routing the email, I think you’d need to have those replies come to you and then have a rule written in gmail or whatever you’re using to forward to IFTTT. To get the document names to matchup to a unique transaction ID, you’d either need the ID in attachment file name or the subject line in the email they’re replying to.

  • jcamachott

    You can also use sendtodropbox.com

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  • Rachel

    hopefully not a dumb question – but is there a way to upload the text in the email itself or only an email attachment from gmail into dropbox?

    • http://www.itsworthnoting.com/ Levi Smith

      The only way to do that would be to save your email as an attachment first and then send the attachment in a separate email. Pretty easy depending on the email app you’re using, but more cumbersome to do from a phone or tablet.

      Levi