When it comes to getting things done quickly, automation is the name of the game. We’ve looked at IFTTT before, and a new batch of updates has introduced a number of options that can be used to automatically do things with files that are sent to your Gmail address.

What could this be used for? Well, the most obvious starting point is to simply create a backup of any files that you receive via email. This is useful if you find that you often reach the size limit for your inbox as it enables you to delete emails without having to worry about losing the associated files.

Start by paying a visit to the IFTTT website and then either sign into an existing account or create a new one.

Click the Create link at the very top of the page followed by ‘this’. From the list of available Trigger Channels, select Gmail. As I’ve already been using IFTTT to automate various aspects of my Google activity, my accounts are already linked; you may find that you have to do so.

As with other IFTTT channels, there are various Gmail triggers. As we’re interested in working with attachments, click the ‘Any new attachment’ box.

Click Create Trigger followed by the That link. You can then choose what you would like to happen when you receive an email that has an attachment.

There are lots of possibilities here, but for the purposes of this article, we’re interested in creating a backup of files that are received. Attachments can be automatically sent to any of a number of cloud storage services; I’m opting to use Dropbox to house all of my attachments.

After selecting the Dropbox option, click ‘Add file from URL’.

When email attachments are backed up, it is a good idea to ensure that they are named in a way that makes sense. Click the + button in the ‘File name’ section and use the drop down menu to choose how files should be titled.

It is possible to use several components to build up a meaningful name, such as the name of the file along with the email subject line, or the name of the sender.

You can use a similar method to choose where files should be saved. You can enter the path of a Dropbox folder, or have one created based on who the file has come from, the date it was received, and various other elements.

When you’re done, click Create Action, enter a description for your newly created recipe and click Create Recipe

Of course, there is room for a great deal of flexibility here, including backing up files to different services, but the very process of backing up attachments could be used as a trigger in its own right. You could, for instance, have IFTTT monitor your Dropbox account and upload image files to Flickr.

Share your ideas and experiences below.