Nearly every web application that offers some sort of cloud-based storage space – look at YouTube, Flickr, Facebook or Scribd – support file uploads via email. You get a unique email address and any files that you send to this address are uploaded to your online account.
This is handy for a couple of reasons. You can upload files from your mobile phone by simply attaching them to an email address without requiring any specific app. If you are working with a group, everyone can upload content to a common space without knowing the login credentials. You can even send remote print commands via email.
Send Files to Dropbox using Email
Surprisingly Dropbox, the most popular file storage and sync service on the web, doesn’t offer native support for email based file uploads yet. Fortunately, they do offer an API and that has lead to the creation of a host of third-party services – like SendToDropbox.com and AirDropper.com – that kind of fill this important gap.
The problem is that many of us may feel comfortable trusting our important files with relatively unknown services and second, they don’t have a solid business model and maybe not be there for long. Previously mentioned Habilis has already gone out of business.
So here’s an alternate DIY method that kind of offers best of both worlds. You can transfer files to your Dropbox folders by sending them to an email address, there are no limits and you aren’t dependent on another service.
Before I get into the actual details, here’s a working demo on YouTube:
The trick is simple.
Step 1. Setup a Gmail account that will become your Dropbox email address. Gmail lets you attach files up to 25 MB in size but if you need to upload even bigger files, use Hotmail.
Step 2. Get the Mail Attachment utility and configure it such that it checks your Gmail account for new email messages after every ‘n’ minutes.
This tiny utility connects to your email account via POP3 or IMAP and fetches any new file attachments from the inbox. It only downloads the attachments as separate files and not the actual email message – that’s exactly what we want.
Step 3. Set the “Save Location” inside the Mail Attachment utility to any sub-folder of your main Dropbox folder (you may call it “email-uploads”). Hit the close button to minimize the app to the system tray and it will continue checking for new files in the background.
That’s it. Compose an email message, attach some files and send them to your Dropbox address. Within a minute, those files would become available in your Dropbox folder.
If you want other people to upload files to your Dropbox folder, simply share your Dropbox email address with them and reset it once the task is done!