Manchester Photographer, Jonathan Pow

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Saving PDFs from Gmail to Google Drive, tips from a paperwork hating photographer

Photo business post, warning – no pretty pictures, just time-saving geekery and Google Apps Scripts…

Two cats sitting on paperwork

Cats – famously hate paperwork

I like to think of myself as a creative person. Good at creativity, shite at paperwork (are they innately linked?). Unfortunately, being a freelance photographer (the operative word being freelance), paperwork is sadly necessary to run a business.

At least sometimes… because I like to find anything that helps me cheat.

One little cheat I have found recently is more helps when saving email expenses and invoices (nope, not exciting, but bloody useful).

In the past I have used to save invoices as PDFs and emailed to a company called ExpenseMagic (now they’re https://expentory.com), where they’d automagically enter it up to my FreeAgent accounting software. Once I got through the bulk I found I could drop ExpenseMagic and simply save my invoices to a Google Drive folder and enter them up using Freeagent (http://fre.ag/430sdjdw – that’s a referral link, which would be bloody good if you used, because both you and I get a 10% discount out of it!).

This all went to shit when I dropped my phone in the sea. On my last phone I could easily save PDFs and the new one can’t do that easily (basically because Apple don’t like PDFs much, so think we should all have a similar disdain for them).

As a result of the phone/sea incident my backlog has reached epic proportions. With doing up our house, investing in some new gear and lots of other crap my email is (or was) full to the brim with invoices and receipts. Which is a pain in the arse to say the least.

That was until I discovered a Gmail script called ‘Send Gmail to Google Drive’ by self-confessed web geek Amit Agarwal. See here http://www.labnol.org/internet/send-gmail-to-google-drive/21236/

I’ve just bought the ‘premium version’ and overnight it has saved masses of emails as PDFs to my Google Drive! Bloody useful and a great time saver. Especially now I won’t have to load and ‘print to PDF’ and download hundreds of emails and attachments.

Setup (I’ve skipped some of the setup, look at the Labnol link above for that) – confusingly it creates a Google Sheets file (confusing for those who haven’t seen them before, but this is essentially the backbone of Gmail scripts, when you install to your Gmail make sure you bookmark the sheet to get access to the settings easily later):

Screen shot of my 'Save Emails and Attachments' settings

Screen shot of my ‘Save Emails and Attachments’ settings

 

Once the script is installed I created a folder on my Google drive called ‘SAVE EMAILS & ATTACHMENTS‘, it’s a bit of a processing folder, where I can files to other folders for my accounts.

On the Gmail side, I label (this is a built-in Gmail function, the shortcut key is ‘L’, then start typing the label name and hit return when it is selected) emails I’d like converted, then every hour (or manually) they’re saved (along with their attachments) to the above folder.

The label I use is ‘Save Emails and Attachments

Once the emails and attached PDF files are saved to Google Drive, the emails are automatically labeled ‘Saved’ in Gmail, this prevents further processing whilst also allowing them to be easily deleted in bulk from Gmail (once you’ve checked they’ve actually been saved).

My inbox is clearer, as too is my mind, and they’re ready to be entered up to my accounts (which is still a bind – does anyone want to help?). Also, you can label them from the Gmail app on the iPhone or Android (which is useful for people like me, who like to work when they’re on the go and have nothing better to do), and they’re processed every hour.

Check it out here: http://www.labnol.org/internet/send-gmail-to-google-drive/21236/ (opens in new tab)

Also check out FreeAgent http://fre.ag/430sdjdw (opens in new tab – link gives a 10% discount code for you and me!) it’s accounting software designed for people who hate accounting software, and I’ll be honest, if I can use it, anyone can (plus you can file VAT returns and accounts in the UK, directly from the software).

(One thing I’d like, if you’re listening Amit(?), is the ability to rename files with the format ‘YYYYMMDD – Subject (Sender)’. I’m not a bit fan of sub folders and this would mean I could process all the files in one place (the current filenames are coming out a bit wordy).

If anything has inspired or intrigued you let the world know

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