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How to automatically email files to Google Drive

By Elena Alston · January 31, 2024
Email by Zapier and Google Drive logos on an orange background with an orange dotted line

When you're on the go or using a shared computer, one of the easiest ways to save files is to email them to yourself. When you're back in front of your own computer, you probably upload them to Google Drive. There are a few problems with this scenario. First, you have to actually remember to do it (we all get waylaid by our to-do lists). And second, scrolling through your emails is time-consuming—particularly if a few days or even weeks have gone by. 

But what if you could email those files to Google Drive instead while you're still in your inbox and automatically save them with the rest of your files? 

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Automatically save new attachments in Google Drive

Zapier lets you create automated workflows called Zaps, which send your information from one app to another. You can create your own Zap from scratch without any coding knowledge, but we also offer quick templates to get you started. 

If you'd like to start with a template, click the button below, and you'll be taken to the Zapier editor. You'll need to create a Zapier account if you don't already have one. Then, follow the directions below to set up your Zap.

Save new email attachments to Google Drive

Save new email attachments to Google Drive
  • Email by Zapier logo
  • Google Drive logo
Email by Zapier + Google Drive

Note: Most email apps only let you send files up to 25MB, so keep that in mind when using this Zap.

Set up your Email by Zapier trigger 

First, set up your trigger—the event that starts your Zap. If you're using the Zap template, this will be set up for you. Otherwise, search for and select Email by Zapier as the trigger app and New Inbound Email as the trigger event. Click Continue.

A Zapier trigger step where Email by Zapier is selected for the trigger app and New Inbound Email for the trigger event

Next, customize the email address that Zapier has already set up for you. This is a series of random letters and numbers followed by @zapiermail.com. 

Before the pre-set characters, Zapier will ask you to add in a word. In this instance, we've used the word gdrive, but it can be any combination of letters and numbers you choose, as long as it's in lowercase. Copy the email address to your clipboard and add it to your address book. 

An orange box around the Email Address field, which contains the words gdrive

Once you've done this, click Continue.

Next, send a new email to that email address with an attached file so when you test the Zap, it can pull up the email as a record. 

An email with the new Zapier email address in the email field and an attached file.

Now, it's time to test your trigger step. Click Test trigger and Zapier will pull in the most recent emails you've sent to your customized email address to set up the rest of your Zap.

Choose one of the emails for this test, then click Continue with selected record.

A successful test trigger screen that shows a request.

Set up your Google Drive action

It's time to set up the action—the event your Zap will perform once it's triggered. If you're using the Zap template, this will be set up for you. Otherwise, search for and select Google Drive as your action app and Upload File as your action event. Click Continue.

Google Drive selected for the action app and Upload File selected for the action event.

Connect your Google Drive account to Zapier and click Continue.

A dropdown menu with a Google Drive account selected under the Choose account menu

Now it's time to customize where you want your files to go. 

Click on the dropdown under Drive and select My Google Drive. Click on the dropdown under Folder and select the Google Drive folder where you want your email attachments to live. If you don't want your files to be saved in a specific folder, you can leave that option blank, and Zapier will save the files to your main Google Drive. Next, under File, there will be a dropdown menu of data you can select. Click on Attachment: (Exists but not shown)

Attachments from email highlighted with an orange box under the Folder menu, and Attachment highlighted with an orange box under the File menu

You also have the option to convert your attachments into an editable document. If you want to do this, click on the dropdown under Convert to Document and select True. (Otherwise, you can leave it blank.)

True and False buttons underneath the Convert to Document menu

By default, Zapier uses the same name and extension as the original file attachment you're uploading. If you want to change this, click on File Name, and you'll get a dropdown menu of data that you can select for the attachment name. You could, for example, change it to the contents of your email's subject line. 

Email subject line data mapped in the File Name field

The same rules apply for the File Extension dropdown. Just note that you can only change the file extension if you add a file name. 

Once you've finished setting up your action, click Continue

Now it's time to test your action. When you click Test step, Zapier will send an email attachment to your Google Drive according to how you set up your action event. Here's how ours looked:

A grayed out test menu with Test & Review and Test & Continue buttons

If your test was successful, you're now ready to use your Zap.

Send all your files to Google Drive automatically

The next time you need to save a file to Google Drive, open your email app, attach the file, and email it to your new Google Drive email address. When someone emails you with a file, you can forward that email and copy the attachment—and Zapier will save that to Google Drive, too.

It's the easiest way to send files to Google Drive.

Save new email attachments to Google Drive

Save new email attachments to Google Drive
  • Email by Zapier logo
  • Google Drive logo
Email by Zapier + Google Drive

New to Zapier? Learn more in Zapier's quick start guide. Then find more ways to build custom email automation.

This article was originally published in September 2018 by Matt Guay, and was previously updated by Elena Alston. It was most recently updated by Hannah Herman in January 2024.

Related reading:

  • How to automatically save client files in the right Google Drive folders

  • 4 ways to automate Gmail

  • 5 ways to automate Google Drive

  • How to automatically email files to Google Drive

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