Microsoft in preparation of the Windows 8 launch has evaluated all of its products to sort out some and focus on others.
One of the products that the company has moved into focus is SkyDrive, its cloud hosting service, file synchronization and document management service.
Microsoft has linked the service directly with Microsoft Accounts and the Windows 8 operating system. Windows 8 users who log in with a Microsoft Account can synchronize account data with SkyDrive to use the same settings and data on any Winodws 8 PC they log in.
SkyDrive has also been integrated into the redesigned Hotmail.com / Outlook.com email service to manage files more effectively.
Update: Attachments.me is no longer available. The service has been discontinued. We suggest you check out IFTTT instead which offers similar functionality.
Microsoft's latest addition to SkyDrive is an add-on for Gmail. This may sound strange at first considering that Gmail is operated by Google. The reasoning here may be to provide existing SkyDrive customers who are also using Gmail with options to use the storage on Gmail, and to win new Gmail customers for SkyDrive.
Microsoft has teamed up with Attachments.me to create browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox that integrate SkyDrive functionality into Gmail. I had troubles installing the add-on in Firefox Nightly or Aurora, but the Chrome installation worked as intended.
When you open the Google Mail homepage for the first time after installation, you will see a prompt to complete the setup. Here you need to link the SkyDrive, or Dropbox, Box or Google Drive account, with Gmail. A click on link your account opens a new page where you need to authorize the service to access contents and information of your SkyDrive account.
Once that is out of the way you see two new options on the compose email page:
Attachments that you receive can be uploaded manually or automatically to SkyDrive. You need to click on the attachment icon at the top of the Gmail interface next to the profile name and select automatic filing rules from the context menu for that.
Rules can be fairly complex. Not only can you select specific file types but also filters when you want attachments to be saved automatically. You could for instance configure a rule to automatically save all documents from a contact, or one that saves code files if the subject contains a certain phrase.
Attachments are automatically saved even if Gmail is not open at the time.
The SkyDrive Gmail add-on may be useful to users of the service who use the Gmail web interface. It may also be an option for Gmail users who want to use Microsoft's service to host their files online, especially if they plan to use a PC with Windows 8 in the future.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.