How can I download all emails with attachments from Gmail?

By | July 1, 2019

Question

How do I connect to Gmail and determine which messages have attachments? I then want to download each attachment, printing out the Subject: and From: for each message as I process it.

Solution

Hard one 🙂

import email, getpass, imaplib, os

detach_dir = '.' # directory where to save attachments (default: current)
user = raw_input("Enter your GMail username:")
pwd = getpass.getpass("Enter your password: ")

# connecting to the gmail imap server
m = imaplib.IMAP4_SSL("imap.gmail.com")
m.login(user,pwd)
m.select("[Gmail]/All Mail") # here you a can choose a mail box like INBOX instead
# use m.list() to get all the mailboxes

resp, items = m.search(None, "ALL") # you could filter using the IMAP rules here (check http://www.example-code.com/csharp/imap-search-critera.asp)
items = items[0].split() # getting the mails id

for emailid in items:
    resp, data = m.fetch(emailid, "(RFC822)") # fetching the mail, "`(RFC822)`" means "get the whole stuff", but you can ask for headers only, etc
    email_body = data[0][1] # getting the mail content
    mail = email.message_from_string(email_body) # parsing the mail content to get a mail object

    #Check if any attachments at all
    if mail.get_content_maintype() != 'multipart':
        continue

    print "["+mail["From"]+"] :" + mail["Subject"]

    # we use walk to create a generator so we can iterate on the parts and forget about the recursive headach
    for part in mail.walk():
        # multipart are just containers, so we skip them
        if part.get_content_maintype() == 'multipart':
            continue

        # is this part an attachment ?
        if part.get('Content-Disposition') is None:
            continue

        filename = part.get_filename()
        counter = 1

        # if there is no filename, we create one with a counter to avoid duplicates
        if not filename:
            filename = 'part-%03d%s' % (counter, 'bin')
            counter += 1

        att_path = os.path.join(detach_dir, filename)

        #Check if its already there
        if not os.path.isfile(att_path) :
            # finally write the stuff
            fp = open(att_path, 'wb')
            fp.write(part.get_payload(decode=True))
            fp.close()

Wowww! That was something. 😉 But try the same in Java, just for fun!

By the way, I tested that in a shell, so some errors likely remain.

Enjoy

EDIT:

Because mail-box names can change from one country to another, I recommend doing m.list() and picking an item in it before m.select("the mailbox name") to avoid this error:

imaplib.error: command SEARCH illegal in state AUTH, only allowed in
states SELECTED

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