A close look at Gmail's new Google Drive integration for attachments
If you are using a web mail service such as Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo Mail, you have probably come up with your own way on how to deal with email attachments.
Most users are probably downloading them to their computer so that they can open them after the download has finished.
Some email services have begun to add viewing options for select file types, pdf documents, Excel spreadsheets and images directly to their applications to improve the usability for the user.
While that is great for taking a quick look or even printing documents right away, it does not really take care of the distribution issue.
Some users may prefer to keep the attachments on Gmail, as they have access to an Internet connection wherever they go. Others may prefer to download the attachments to the local system, for safe keeping and offline access.
Google Drive Gmail integration
Google announced yesterday that it has improved the integration of Google Drive, the company's file synchronization and document managing platform, in Gmail.
The core change here is that you can now view and save attachments directly to Google Drive, without ever leaving Gmail in the process.
Viewing is only available for supported file types, while saving is available for all of them.
Depending on the type of attachment, up to three options are available on how to deal with them:
- Open them for viewing on Gmail. You just have to click on the attachment for that. The document or file is opened in a screen overlay. If things go wrong, you get "Sorry an error has occurred instead" and an open with and download option at the bottom of the screen.
- Download will download the selected attachment to your local system.
- Save to drive will save it to Google Drive instead. If you select the option, the folder view of the linked Google Drive account is displayed giving you the opportunity to select a folder where you want the file to be saved to. Once you have selected that option, clicking again on the icon will take you to Google Drive automatically. The page is opened in a new tab and the attachment is selected automatically so that you can work with it right there.
About the error to preview files: If the attachment is displaying contents, then the preview will work fine on Gmail. If it is displaying a generic image instead, then it won't work and you will run into the "sorry" error message. The screenshot above shows a generic image, while the screenshot below shows how attachments look like that you can preview on Gmail.
If you have received multiple attachments in an email, you can use the buttons on the top right to download them all to the computer, or save them all to Google Drive.
Benefits of Google Drive
- Attachments that you save to Google Drive are accessible from any device that you can use to sign in to Google Drive or use a Google Drive app on.
- The files may get synced automatically to all of your devices, so that you do not have to download them separately or download them and move them to a file synchronization folder to spread them to other devices.
- You can view select document formats and media right on Gmail without ever leaving the page. Great for quickly browsing a document or taking a sneak peak at an image or media file.
- Files are saved to Google Drive without you wasting any bandwidth on the computer you are working on.
There are not any disadvantages, as you can still download the files to your local system just like before.
The new integration is currently being rolled out, which means that it may not be enabled for your Gmail account yet.
The new feature set is definitely useful for Gmail users who prefer to use the web client instead of a desktop email program. What's your take on the new integration? Let me know in the comment section below.
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