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How to attach real files to Gmail messages, not just links

A new Google Drive tweak lets you attach actual files to outbound email.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida

If you're a Gmail user, you know that if you want to attach a Google Drive file to an outgoing message, your only choice is to attach a link to that file.

Not anymore. Thanks to a new update, Gmail now lets you attach actual Google Drive files. Just two limitations: This works only with files you've uploaded to Drive (not items actually created in Drive), and the maximum file size for attachments is 25MB.

Here's how the new method works:

Step 1: Open Gmail in your browser, then click Compose to create a new message.

Step 2: Near the bottom of the new-mail window, locate and click the Google Drive icon.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 3: Now you'll see the contents of your Google Drive. Choose one or more files, then select the Attachment option in the bottom-right corner. At first glance it may not look like anything has happened, but basically you're just toggling between that and the Drive Link option.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 4: Click the blue Insert button (bottom-left corner), then finish sending your message as usual.

Needless to say, this is a bit different than adding an attachment that's stored on your PC, which is done by clicking the paperclip icon (in step 2) instead.

But for those times when you need to share something from your Google Drive and went to deliver the actual file, now you can.