Saddled up and ready to go: making the most out of file attachments

Despite the emergence of cloud storage, temporary hosting and document-sharing platforms , sending files via email is still the most practical option. Count on users to make it as impractical as we can.

Text, graphics, audio, video – by now your inbox is a multimedia database via all the file attachments you’ve collected. But this database isn’t structured around those care packages, but rather around the envelopes they arrive in. All sorts of problems arise from this, both immediate and future.

Services like WeTransfer have become popular, for their larger filesize restrictions and ease of sharing across platforms. These solutions, however, present themselves merely temporary and are far from ideal when critical files are necessary at a later date.
We now try to list some of the more annoying pains involving email attachments, and provide safeguards to help dealing with them.

Immediate pains

Organization – Try to have a folder exclusively


A system for sifting: mining email

Valuable data lies in your email archives, and it's maddening that something you once came into direct contact with can be so hard to retrieve. Sadly, there's no dynamite to help you dig through the rock.

Pebble by pebble, your email inbox has collected enough important information to amount to a small mountain of data. So much so that sometimes when you're looking for one particular item you feel like you're chipping away at that mountain with a spoon. There's also an added difficulty when the information you're looking for is an attached file: all too often does the accompanying email have no keywords or subject lines related to the file.

First off, we need to address the inefficient tools on hand: searching and browsing.

Searching for keywords using the search engine native to our reader - even on Gmail's world standard known as Google - seems to yield poor


An email’s lifecycle: Do all emails go to heaven?

Ideally, every email we touch should have a standard lifecycle: they are born into our inbox, they grow replies and after passing from our attention they find a final resting place that marks them as processed.

We’re born, we live, and and after we die we get put in either a casket or an urn. It seems like a neat arrangement that makes sure the world holds only the cleanest memories of our time here. Our emails do not seem to share such an arrangement, though: most of them are left in limbo, condemned to spend bit-ternity as half-finished tasks or forgotten carcasses in the depths of our inbox.

Granted, thinking of an email as something that has a lifecycle is not immediate. Its very nature as a transitory message seems to contradict the perspective of a continuous narrative with a logical end. But every email has an intent


Carbon copying without getting your fingers smudged

The CC and BCC fields are mostly ignored by casual email users, while more intensive users rely on them perhaps a little too much. The middle ground is, as usual, the safest bet.

The acronyms stand for Carbon Copy and Blind Carbon Copy. On these days of pocket email, the origins of these terms seem almost entirely forgotten. They refer to the copies gotten from a typewriter by applying a carbon paper while typing the text – an extremely analog technique that basically lives on only as a digital term. There have been efforts to backronym these designations: Courtesy Copy and Copy Circulated among them.

But getting down to the mechanics: when you add recipients to the CC field, they all receive the message and get to see each other’s addresses, while the addresses are kept invisible in BCC. In this post we try to examine the subtleties of the


Master and Servant: turning the tables on email’s grip on your time

With the current ease of access, checking your email is more of a compulsion than a task. But cutting down on the number of times you visit your inbox may save you time at the end of the day.

Technology seems to work in a curious way: just when you’re getting used to the way it improves your life, new problems seem to arise from it. Take the automobile, for example. It enables you to travel faster and in comfort from A to B, but how comfortable do you feel when you’re pushing a couple of inches per minute on a traffic jam – or circling the block trying to find a place to park? Public transportation isn’t always practical, so it takes some planning and forward thinking to make the best use out of your mechanical horse technology.

Email seems similarly afflicted. With handheld platforms making it


Dr. Frankenstein's Inbox – the email overload we're all guilty of

The insurmountable pile of unread email in our inboxes is a shared nightmare. So why aren't we doing something about it?

Whether you use email in a professional or personal capacity, we all wake up every morning to the same obscene number between brackets - letting us know exactly how much unread email we can look forward to spending time dealing with. With more or less diligence, the most important of the lot gets sorted away. Maybe one or two fall through a crack in our attention. Maybe something that demands action gets postponed, only to never be remembered again. But we know that eventually the inbox is going to fill up again. It gets so we start to envy Sysyphus and his comparatively simpler task of rolling a boulder uphill.

No, it's not just you. A McKinsey report found that among American corporate workers, up to 28% of their


43 years old and ready for a midlife crisis – a brief history of email

On the anniversary of the platform, we take a look at email's long – but surprisingly not very storied – journey to its current daily use.

The words spoken on the first ever telephone call have deservedly gained notoriety: “Come here – I want to see you”. Spoken by Graham Bell to his assistant Thomas Watson, these words seemed to hint at the deeper relationship users were about to engage in with the technology - rather than the mere pragmatical context they were uttered in. The first words exchanged by email, however, have no such ceremony. Ray Tomlinson, the researcher at ARPANET credited with the composition of the first email in 1971, claims the text was “a test message entirely forgettable, something like 'QWERTYUIOP' or 'TESTING 1 2 3 4'”.

QWERTYUIOP illustration

This disparity in serendipity could be said to have a cause, however: in the case of the telephone, the technology was being actively