Filelink for Large Attachments

Many email servers do not accept messages with large file attachments. The file size restriction varies depending on the mail server configuration. While you might be able to send a message with a large attachment, the receiving mail server might refuse to accept a message with a large attachment. This is all beyond the control of Thunderbird.

Starting in Thunderbird 13, Thunderbird Filelink eliminates this problem by adding support for online storage services. It allows you to upload attachments to an online storage service and then replaces the attachment in the message with a link. The message recipient clicks the link to download the attachment. As additional benefits, sending and receiving large files is much faster and both you and the recipient will save disk space.

Note that you can use Thunderbird Filelink in addition to conventional attachments. For example, you can attach small files directly to a message and use Filelink for large attachments in the same message.

The instructions below show how to configure and use Filelink with the Ubuntu One online storage service. Other providers (including YouSendIt and Box) are also supported. Simply substitute the service you are using as required.

Configuring Filelink

To use Filelink, you must first create a new account (or configure an existing account) with an online storage service provider.

At the top of the Thunderbird window, click the Tools menu and select Options...In the menu bar, click the Thunderbird menu and select Preferences...At the top of the Thunderbird window, click the Edit menu and select Preferences Click on the Attachments button, then click Outgoing. Select the desired service provider from the drop-down list. Click the Add button. Enter the username for your online storage account, or click Need an account?.

ubuntu-account

If you are creating a new account, a browser window will open that displays the service provider's registration page. Create an account as instructed. The service provider will send you a validation email message. Click the validation link in the message to activate your account. Enter your username (your email address) in the dialog shown above and enter your password when prompted.

In the main configuration dialog, check Offer to share for files larger than... and specify a file size (in megabytes) if you want Thunderbird to prompt you to use Filelink when a message attachment exceeds the specified size.

Using Filelink

When you attach a file to a message, if the file size exceeds the amount specified above, Thunderbird will offer to let you use Filelink:

filelink-prompt-ubuntu-one

To force a file to be attached using Filelink (rather than relying on Thunderbird to determine if the attached file exceeds the specified size), you can click the down arrow next to the Attach button on the message toolbar to access the Filelink menu option.

Click the Link button to upload the file to the online storage service provider. (Alternatively click Ignore to attach the file as a conventional attachment.)

filelink attachment-ubuntu-one

When the recipient receives the message, they will be informed that a file is linked to the message:

recipient filelink-ubuntu-one

When the recipient clicks on the link in the message, some services like YouSendIt display an intermediary web page with an option to download the file.

filelink link

Other services (like Ubuntu One) allow you to download the file immediately without an intermediate web page.


Filelink FAQ

Attachments that you send via Filelink are not stored on Mozilla servers. Each file storage service provider has its own privacy policy and terms of service. The file storage service provider has reviewed the Filelink feature to ensure that it is consistent with their policies.

Q: Does Mozilla know which provider the user has picked?

A: No. Mozilla is unaware of which provider has been selected by a user. Provider configuration is stored on the local machine.

Q: What storage services are currently supported?

A: As of Thunderbird 16, we have reached agreement with Box, Ubuntu One and YouSendIt to integrate their services directly into Thunderbird. You can install support for more providers with add-ons, like:

Q: Can the storage service view my attachments?

A: Unless you encrypt the file before uploading, the storage services will be able to view the file, as will anyone who obtains the link to the attachment. Users must decide on their own which service provider they trust with that responsibility. (Service providers generally explain your privacy rights in their terms of service.) Note that standard attachment functionality is also not encrypted. When you send an attachment the "normal" way, the file can be accessed by anyone that can access the message between your system and the recipients system (such as your email service provider). Filelink adds some security as file uploads to the storage service provider are sent via HTTPS, a secure protocol.

Q: How long will my file be available on the storage service provider's site?

A: The file will remain available on the storage service provider's site until you specifically delete it. Log in to the provider's website to view and delete the files in your storage space.

Q: Can you support service provider X or protocol Y?

A: We plan to support SpiderOak. We also have an "Up-for-grabs" project available if anybody would like to add support for more services or protocols. Developer documentation for the Filelink feature can be found here: https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Thun.../Filelink_Providers

Q: I don't like the idea of storing my files with third-parties like this. Do regular attachments still work?

A: Regular email attachments still work the same as they always have. We've just given you the ability to choose to upload large attachments somewhere else, if you wish. Thunderbird's notion of a large file defaults to 1 MB, but can be customized in Thunderbird's Preferences. (At the top of the Thunderbird window, click the Tools menu and select Options...In the menu bar, click the Thunderbird menu and select Preferences...At the top of the Thunderbird window, click the Edit menu and select Preferences ) The offer to upload can also be disabled entirely.



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