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How to e-mail attached files to Dropbox

Dropbox is a powerful collaborative file-sharing tool, but it doesn't have a native e-mail tool. There's a fairly simple workaround that lets you share files from devices without Dropbox and lets others send files directly to your shared folders. Learn how to do it in this blog post by Rob Lightner.

Once you've settled in with Dropbox (and convinced all your friends to do the same to boost your space), it doesn't take long before you're wishing for a simple e-mail-to-Dropbox function. Maybe you're at work, maybe your phone doesn't yet support the mobile Dropbox app, or maybe you have friends who want to send files straight to your shared folders. With a quick 10-15 minute investment, you can set up a dedicated email address that sends attachments straight to the Dropbox folder of your choice. Here's how:

  1. Get a Dropbox account, if you haven't already. It's free and easy.
  2. Set up a Web mail account that you'll only use for Dropbox attachments. You may have better luck with one of the biggies like Gmail or Hotmail, but any service that can take attachments should work.
  3. Download and install the free Mail Attachment Downloader (MAD) software. It's Windows-only, but it can easily run on a secondary machine if you prefer a different OS.
  4. Start up Mail Attachment Downloader on a machine running Dropbox.
  5. Enter your dedicated e-mail address and password, then click "Change location" and direct MAD to download attachments to one of your Dropbox folders. (They're usually in your Documents folder.)
  6. MAD Startup screen
    Step 5: Enter e-mail info and select Dropbox location
  7. Click the "General options" tab, then check "Run at startup for this e-mail account," then choose how often you want it to check for new files under "Schedule download."
  8. MAD General options screen
    Step 6: General options
  9. The first time you run MAD, you may want to check the whole Inbox rather than just new messages. If so, click the "Basic filters" tab and then select "All mail" under "Check in." Make sure you switch it back later or you'll end up downloading attachments multiple times. You can also select different file types to download here.
  10. MAD Basic filters screen
    Step 7: Basic filters
  11. You're all set! you can click "Connect and download" right away if you've already sent test attachments to this account, or just let it run in the background and fill up your Dropbox folder while you wait. Note that the machine running MAD needs to be powered up and connected to the Net for this to work!