Web mail services like Hotmail and Gmail are powerful and convenient, but one issue that can stress out heavy users is keeping track of attachments. You may be bumping up against storage limitations, shutting down an old address, or reorganizing files to a single offline location, but it can be a daunting grind without some way to download files in bulk. Windows users can use a free customizable program that makes it simple. Here's how to use it:
- Download, install, and run the free Mail Attachment Downloader (MAD) software.
- Enter an e-mail address and password (you can use as many as
you like, and customize settings for each), then click "Change
location" and direct MAD to download attachments to a folder you can
- If your e-mail provider isn't recognized, you'll need to
navigate to the "Mail server" tab and enter the host information and
- Down in the "Folders and files" tab, you can tell MAD to check specific folders instead of just the inbox, set rules for filenames, and choose simple folder organization schemes.
- The first time you run MAD, you need to check your whole account
for attachments, rather than just checking new messages. Navigate over to the
"Basic filters" tab and select "All mail" under "Check
in." (Make sure you switch it back later or you'll end up downloading
attachments multiple times if you monitor this account in the future.) You can
also specify a minimum file size for download and limit your download to
particular file types.
- If you want to get extra tricky, navigate to the
"Advanced filters" tab and select start and end dates for your search
or set filters to further limit your search. This can be really handy if you
want to sort attached files by age, sender, or context.
- If you want to keep monitoring this account for new
attachments, navigate to the "General options" tab and tell MAD how
often you want it to check the server and whether to run automatically when
your computer starts up. The machine running MAD needs to be powered on and
connected to the internet for this to work.
- If it all looks good, click "Connect and Download" and watch the files pour in--or go get lunch if you've got years' worth of documents and media coming your way.