Friday, May 28, 2010

Saving E-Mail attachments to your Dropbox and then to your iPad

Since the iPad is not meant to do all the things we do with computers, I find myself now, when I encounter a task I cannot do on my iPad, wondering how I can make the iPad do it.

A good example :   once a week I receive an e-mail with a document attached.  I'd like that document to be in the GoodReader application on my iPad so it is available always, even if I am somewhere I do not have internet connectivity.

GoodReader brings in documents from Dropbox, so I wondered if Dropbox supported a way of e-mailing in a document.  After all, Evernote allows you to e-mail it content so it is a reasonable feature to expect.

Alas, Dropbox does not have that feature.

In my course of my research, I came across a little PC application, MailDrop from Michael Warren.

MailDrop watches your Gmail account and watches any e-mails belonging to a Gmail Label "Dropbox".  MailDrop then saves any attachments to your Dropbox account.

MailDrop is an app that runs on your PC.  To use it you have to :

1.  Add a folder called Dropbox to your Gmail
2.  Install MailDrop to your PC, and give it your Gmail login name and password
3.  Create a filter in Gmail so appropriate incoming e-mail end up with the Dropbox label

The filter I wrote simply takes any e-mails sent FROM my e-mail address, and TO my e-mail address and  that has an attachment, and applies the Dropbox label.

When I receive the document in my Gmail, I just forward it to myself and it ends up in Gmail so I can then bring it into GoodReader.  These last two steps that I do each week, I can do entirely on my iPad.  The portion done on my PC is entirely automatic.  I have MailDrop installed on a PC that never gets shut off.

That Gmail filter works with any e-mail I forward, not just the one I get each week.  I could, now that I think of it, have a filter to automatically label that expected weekly e-mail.

MailDrop was written long before the iPad came out, but it can be applied to solve an iPad shortcoming nicely.



  1. Why don't you just mark it directly with the Dropbox label rather than sending it to yourself? Seems like it is fewer clicks.

  2. I'm not the one originating the original e-mail. I am on a mailing list of people receiving it. And the act of sending it to myself is what makes MailDrop notice it and act on it.