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CargoLifter: Automatically send email attachments via the cloud

Dan Frakes | Oct. 17, 2013
CargoLifter slims down your email messages by automatically uploading attachments to your favorite cloud-storage service

Email has come a long way in the past couple decades, but it's still a hassle to send large files as attachments. Some email accounts have attachment-size limits, either for the sender or the recipient; many people check email on mobile devices, where large attachments can be both difficult to manage and expensive to download; and many people simply think that large attachments are bad email etiquette.

For all these reasons, cloud-based file-sending services have become quite popular. Instead of attaching a large file to an email message, you upload the file to cloud storage (a service that stores your data on a server that you connect to over the Internet). The service then provides you with a URL for downloading the file, and you include that URL in your message. The recipient receives an email unencumbered by an attachment, but with a link to download the file if and when they want.

The number of such services is surprisingly large and, it seems, growing daily, so obviously there's a big demand for this functionality. And it's an approach that works pretty well. However, it's far from seamless, requiring several more steps than simply dragging a file into an email message—just getting your uploaded file's public URL can be a hassle. And if you want to send multiple files, many services require that you either compress them into a single archive or perform the above procedure once for each file.

You can get around some of the hassle using any of a number of cloud-upload utilities. My current favorite is Swing for App.net, which displays a little "drop zone" icon in my menu bar. When I want to share a big file, I just drag it to the Swing icon; the file is uploaded to my App.net storage, and the download URL for that file is automatically added to the clipboard for pasting elsewhere. If I drag multiple files to the icon, Swing will even combine them in a single .zip archive for me, and then upload just that archive file.

But even Swing requires you to complete a separate task that interrupts the normal email workflow. Which is why CargoLifter will be so appealing for people who don't want to have to deal with adding Yet Another Process to their daily grind. This nifty add-on works with Mail to give you the benefits of cloud storage of attachments without the hassle.

After installing CargoLifter—it's a Mail plug-in—you get a new screen of settings in Mail's Preferences window. The one-time setup process requires you to choose your preferred cloud-storage service and then authorize CargoLifter to access that service. CargoLifter supports Dropbox, YouSendIt, CloudApp, Droplr, Dropmark, MediaFire, Box, and Google Drive, as well as any standard FTP, SFTP, or WebDAV server. (I didn't test every service, but I did test several, and CargoLifter worked well with them.)

 

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