Auto-empty Download folder?

My employer insists on using Gmail because they get it free. One of the lovely features of Gmail is that anytime you open an attachment, it copies that attachment to your Download folder, and it does not delete that file even if you delete the email it came with.

Then, to make matters stupid, said employer remotely scans our machines periodically to see if there are any “dangerous” files on our local systems. So roughly weekly I get an email from them telling me that I need to delete certain files in my Download folder because they contain social security numbers or other sensitive information (I work a lot with SSNs, medical data, etc.)

I would assume there MUST be a way to automate this remotely, but apparently they don’t want to do so. SO, I’m looking for a local way to automate the emptying of this folder every day. Any suggestions? My Google-fu didn’t find anything, and I’m resisting just having to open the damned folder every night before I leave and dump it.

Use belvedere–Google it and it’s on lifehacker

You seem to be having a mental model failure here. Gmail is a web site, not a local application. The only way for web sites to get files onto your computer is to download them. This is not a “feature” of Gmail, it’s literally the only way for this functionality to exist. Likewise, web sites absolutely do not have the means to delete local files on your computer, so criticizing Gmail for not doing this is, shall we say, misplaced.

Not that this solves your problem, but you’ll have an easier time of it if you actually understand what’s happening.

Two things: Gmail is in fact a local application in the sense that we have our own version of it running at my institution. We have something of a unique relationship with Google, due to some history I won’t go in to. But you are certainly correct that when I open an attachment, it downloads that from wherever the server is to my local machine. My point is that this should be a “temp” file which should be automatically removed from my local drive once I am finished with it. It would seem to me that deleting the email to which that file is attached is a good indication that I am finished with it. If I wanted to save it, I should have/could have copied it to a permanent folder meanwhile, rather than just leaving it sit in the Download folder. I’m not asking for this as a “standard” install feature, but at least as one I can choose to implement.

Thanks for the suggestion of Belvedere, I’ll give it a look.

OK, dim question time. When I click on an attachment in Gmail I get two options. Download, and save to Google Drive. If I click on Download, I get the usual Firefox download pop-up, which lets me save the file, or open it in the relevant programme, which presumably stores it in the usual temp folder. Why not do that last one?

That’s really the part that puzzles me as well: that is what I would have expected our gmail client to do (we aren’t allowed to use Google Drive at all, and Download doesn’t offer you any options). But it doesn’t store in the temp folder (or maybe it does, and then deletes that copy later) but it also automatically saves to the download folder and definitely does NOT delete that copy. I have no idea why it is implemented that way, it makes no sense to me. But I have no access to our IT people, and given that we are supposedly a test-bed for enterprise-level gmail implementation, it may just be this is something they are “testing.” All I know is that it is annoying and would seem to be easily resolved, but their solution is instead to harass everyone with weekly emails instead.

That would be the sense of “local” used by precisely nobody. If you’re accessing it through a web browser, it’s not a local application, and as such, it’s limited to putting files on your system in exactly the same way as every other web site in the universe. Web sites cannot delete files from your download folder, period. You do comprehend this, yes?

Yeah. My institution also has Google Apps for business, and to make things easier on our astonishingly non-tech-savvy audience, IT helpfully created a “GMAIL” icon on all desktops across the organization, which just opens a single-tabbed, address-bar-less window of Chrome to, in essence. It even has a little Gmail icon, but it’s still just Chrome.

Which isn’t to say that Benny’s office haven’t finagled some sort of homemade IMAP client for themselves that accesses Gmail, but that strikes me as extraordinarily unlikely.

This might be a setting on your browser. At home. my Firefox browser is set to automatically save downloads to me DOWNLOADS folder without prompting.

No, we don’t have a home-grown IMAP interface (we used to, and I long for the days when Mulberry was our IMAP client here!), we just access Gmail through Chrome.

If there is a setting to modify this, Tim, I can’t find it.

I know I’m tilting at windmills, it is just that this would be so easy to solve at the implementation level, rather than requiring 20,000 people to each clear their own Download folder routinely. Oh well.

What about creating a small batch file that deletes the contents of that folder and setting it up as a scheduled task on the local machine to run ever X minutes, whatever you would be comfortable with?

There’s a setting in Chrome to specify the download location, and whether you want Chrome to prompt for the folder or download automatically. It’s under Settings | Advanced | Downloads. However, there’s no way to say you want the files you download to be temporary.

In some browsers, you can specify that you want to open an attachment rather than downloading it. What you’re doing is downloading it into a temporary folder, and the browser will delete the file after you close it. Chrome doesn’t have that. Firefox does. So the solution is to use Firefox when you’re browsing the Gmail site.

Gus’s got it; I’ve generally found that Chrome is frustratingly non-configurable; even it’s hidden config pages are pretty basic.

Also, you could theoretically add to the chorus of dissatisfied Chrome users by starring the issue here:



There’s no way for Gmail to know what you’ve done with the attachments you’ve downloaded once you’ve downloaded them. If the documents contain sensitive data, the real solution is that you probably shouldn’t be allowed to save them locally.

Gmail’s solution to this is the ability to view / preview files in browser without downloading them. When I get an attachment in gmail/chrome, I can click on it to preview, then save it as a local file, or save it to my Google Drive. Can you not do that? Are the files in a format that gmail doesn’t know how to handle?

Again, I can only speak to the Chrome available to me here at UM, but mine doesn’t offer a Preview option. The two options are “Download” and “Save to Drive” which I assume means “the cloud.” Of course our deal with Google is that we use Chrome too, but I do have Firefox on my machine as well, so that might be an alternative as long as they aren’t actively monitoring what browser we use, which I don’t think they are. Nice to hear that Firefox implements it, even if Google agrees with Zylon.

Format really isn’t the issue, since we don’t have Preview available. What is “supposed” to happen with documents we wish to save is that they are forwarded to our local fax number, which is attached to the network, and the fax machine then copies them to our imaging software, ImageNow, and then we pull them up in that client instead. Its just the intermediate step of it also dumping a copy into my Download folder (if I open them to see if they are worth saving to ImageNow) that is annoying.

Thanks for the Firefox tip. I hadn’t noticed Preview being available there, since I hardly ever have docs coming in to my personal mail, which I always use Firefox for.

“The cloud” doesn’t mean anything. What Save to Drive does, which you could easily verify yourself in ten seconds by just trying it, is copy the file to Google Drive.

Are you really this bad with computers, or are you, for whatever reason, deliberately trying not to understand the fundamentals of the technology you deal with on a daily basis? Also…

What is “supposed” to happen with documents we wish to save is that they are forwarded to our local fax number, which is attached to the network, and the fax machine then copies them to our imaging software, ImageNow, and then we pull them up in that client instead.

God help you all.

On my gmail account, attachments show up at the bottom of the screen as big squares. If I mouse over them, two buttons appear: Download, and Save to Drive. If I click on the attachment, but not on either button, I get an in-browser preview. So, if it’s a pdf, it will be displayed using the Chrome pdf reader in-browser.

What happens if you click on the attachment but not on a button? That’s why I asked about the format. If it’s a weird format, it’s possible that chrome doesn’t know what to do with it. One of the options on the pdf preview window is “open with”, which I assume lets you assign Chrome Apps to open different kinds of docs, but it looks like you need to have a Chrome app or plugin that knows how to handle it.

I have to agree with Zylon here. Yikes.