This Tip aims to point out Gmail’s particular strength in the area of attachments. [First published October 2006. Some details may be a bit dated.]
Email attachments have always been a problem. Size is one factor: it can take a long time to download an attachment over a dial-up modem. Once you have it on your computer, it’s using up valuable storage space.
Then there’s the problem of whether or not you have the right software to open an attached file. And these days, of course, there’s the enormous problem of viruses, particularly for those using the Windows operating system.
Community groups may have a further problem: who exactly has that attachment? Is the Budget on Abe’s computer when Betty needs to look at it?
The tip in PANUI Issue #45, October 2005 explained the usefulness of GMail for community groups. This Tip aims to point out its particular strength in the area of attachments.
GMail and viruses
GMail automatically scans all attachments, both inwards and outwards. If it finds a virus, GMail strips it out and alerts you of its findings.
This happens so quickly you won’t even notice it, but what a good way to add some security to your email.
View attachments online
If you view a GMail message through the web page you can make interesting choices around attachments. For a wide array of formats, such as Word files, PDFs, Excel files, images, you can choose to simply view the attachment in your web browser or to download it, or both.
If there are numerous attachments on a single message one click is sufficient to download all of them.
If you leave the message on the server you can still view the attachments online, even if you also downloaded them. With two gigabytes of storage space on GMail you’re not likely to run out of space — it’s a great place to store attachments without having them fill up your hard drive.
While it may be easier for committee members or those on a project team to each have their own GMail account, if necessary a group can share the GMail account. Each person can then log in and choose whether to download the attached file or simply view it online.
Attachments saved on GMail are also available all over the country, or even the world. Do you need an attachment whilst visiting another organisation, or at a conference? Log on to the GMail address from any computer connected to the web and view or download it.
The CommunityNet Aotearoa email address is very active. We’ve been using GMail since April 2005 and have approximately 2,000 conversations stored, many of them with attachments. This uses a mere 92Mb (3%) of the storage available to us.
A ‘conversation’ may contain between one and dozens of messages.
If the person currently responsible for the email address is taken ill or goes on holiday then another person can instantly step in and has access to the full archive of messages, email addresses and attachments, because they are all stored in one place.
Sign up for a free GMail account at: mail.google.com/mail/signup.
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, October 2006. This article may have been modified from the original.