April 18, 2014

Adding Attachments to Gmail

This article will briefly review the changes made to the image insertion and attachment interface in Gmail that was introduced in April 2014 (Official Gmail Blog post).  If you are interested in information about viewing and downloading attached files, the following article will be helpful:  Attachments in Gmail

When the new Gmail compose format was introduced in 2012 (Changes to Gmail Compose) the interface for attaching and inserting inline images also went through some significant changes.  See the above article for screen-shots of the new compose interface.  The 2014 update made a minor change to the list of attachment options:  the old camera icon for inserting an inline image has been replaced with a picture icon (plus the word "new", temporarily).

You may have some or all of the above icon choices.  Each icon has a pop-up description as shown in bold in the following list.

Attach Files - opens a file manager window to find and attach files from your computer.

Insert files using Drive - opens a viewer so you can select documents from Google Drive which are added as links to your message.  You can also drag-and-drop or use a file manager to add a new file to Google Drive and then add a link to your message.

Insert Photo - opens a view so you can add images inline or as attachments from various sources.

Attach money - This option was removed some time back.

Insert link - allows you to insert a link to a document or page on the internet.

Insert emoticon - provides a selection of colorful emoji to add to your message.

Insert invitation - allows you to send a Google Calendar invite.

Clicking on the Insert Photo icon opens the totally re-designed image insertion dialog.

If you have not placed any images in your Google+ Photos page then you will see this page instead.

You will notice four tabs along the top which define the various sources from which you can insert images.

Although if you don't have Google+ in your account you will have fewer choices.

Photos - This tab shows the same data and photo thumbnails as the “Highlights” tab in Google+ Photos, except that there will not be any pictures owned by other people.  You may select multiple photos to insert into your message.

Albums - This tab shows the same data and thumbnails as the “Albums” tab in Google+ Photos.  Selecting an album will insert a link to the album and all the pictures it contains into the body of your message.  You may also double-click to push into the album where you can select individual pictures.

Upload - This section shows a screen where the user can drag-and-drop an image, or open the local file browser to upload a file from the computer. Attaching a local photo will not upload the photo to Google+ photos.

Web Address (URL) - This section shows a screen where the user may specify the URL of an image on the web to use.

In addition, any time you are viewing individual pictures (any screen except Albums and Image URL) the lower/right will provide a choice of inserting the image inline or as an attachment.  Notice that the default is inline.  Albums are always inserted as a link, and Image URLs always are shown inline.

Of course when you are done (or if you wish to abort) the lower/left has the Insert and Cancel buttons.

Once an image is inserted inline, you can click on the image to see a number of re-sizing options.  In addition, the four corners of the image have drag handles (the blue squares) allowing the image to be dragged to any size desired maintaining the aspect-ratio of the image.

The basic work-flow to insert one or more pictures would be as follows:
  1. Select the picture source, one of the four tabs, along the top.
  2. Select one or more pictures in the center area.
  3. Specify if they should be inline or attachments in the lower/right.
  4. Click Insert in the lower/left.
  5. If the image is inline, re-size as desired.
The Gmail help article for attachments can be found here:  Add Attachments
The Gmail help article for inserting images can be found here:  Insert images into your messages

Keep in mind that the total size of Gmail messages is 25 megabytes (MB).  If you want to send attachments that are larger than this, you can share them from Google Drive (as shown above), or use one of the many file sharing sites available (like DropBox.com).

This updated interface supports all of the image attachment and insertion options previously available in a more symmetric and comprehensive way that should support most anything you wish to do with photos in e-mail messages.  And if you previously used drag-and-drop to place inline images from your computer into messages, that still works exactly as before.