How to make attaching files in Gmail considerably easier

If you're a Gmail power user, you might want to enable a handy file attachment experiment that will make your daily email usage a bit more efficient.

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Image: Google

We're all busy. There's no getting around that. When we're on the go, being busy means we must work with a heightened sense of efficiency, otherwise, we get bogged down in tasks that prevent us from getting our work done.

To that end, I'm always looking to find ways to remove a few steps from regular tasks. One such task is attaching files in Gmail. You might think there isn't much time to be shaved out of your day from the simple act of attaching files. You'd be surprised—especially when you have to do this frequently.

I attach files throughout the day, so finding a faster way of doing this made my workflow a bit more efficient. With a simple configuration, you can enable the ability to copy/paste attachments into your Gmail missives. Let me show you how this is done.

SEE: Electronic communication policy  (TechRepublic Premium)

What you'll need

To make this work, you'll need to be using Chrome or Chromium 90 or newer. You read that right: this is a Chrome- and Chromium-only feature, so users of any other browser will have to sit this one out. 

How to enable the clipboard filename feature

To enable this feature, open either Chrome or Chromium and type chrome://flags in the address bar. In the Experiments search bar, type clipboard. When the results appear, you should see a listing for Clipboard-Filenames (Figure A).

Figure A

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The entry for Clipboard-Filenames in Chromium.

Click the Default dropdown and select Enabled. You will then be prompted to restart the browser. Once you've done that, head over to Gmail in the browser.

How to attach a file to Gmail

Open the email compose window and then open your operating system file manager. Locate the file you want to attach in the file manager, select it and copy it in the manner you are accustomed to either right-clicking and selecting copy or using the Ctrl+c keyboard shortcut. 

Go back to Gmail, click within the body of the email and either right-click and select Paste or use the Ctrl+v keyboard shortcut. The file you early copied will automatically add itself as an attachment to the email. Finish composing the email and send it away.

How this feature becomes helpful

You might be thinking, "This isn't all that time-saving." That depends on your use case. If you only attach the random file now and then, this method might not be your best route. However consider this: you attach the same file to multiple emails, going to different users (where Cc or Bcc isn't an option). 

Say you have a proposal or piece of network documentation that has to go out to different users, but the body of the email includes different information. Instead of having to go through the motions of attaching that same file every time, you can compose the email and quickly do a Ctrl+v for each, to attach that file. As long as the file in question remains the most recent in your desktop clipboard, you're good to go. 

Give this Chrome/Chromium experiment a try and see if it doesn't help up your Gmail file attachment game. You'll be surprised at how handy this addition to the browser can be.

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