Solve Gmail's other big hassle -- for free

Chrome extension Dittach makes quick and easy work of finding Gmail attachments.

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Once you select an attachment with Dittach, you can quickly get a full-size preview of it.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/ZDNet

A couple weeks back I told you about Shift Advanced, a Gmail client that solves the problem of managing multiple accounts.

Of course, that's a problem only if you do, in fact, have multiple accounts. Not everyone does.

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The Dittach sidebar is colorful but non-intrusive.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/ZDNet

But anyone with even one Gmail account faces this considerable challenge: finding and managing attachments.

Sure, you can type "has:attachment" into the Gmail search box, but then you have to sift through the results, opening one email at a time, scrolling to actually find the file and so on. It's a cumbersome, laborious process.

Browser extension Dittach makes it a snap to locate and manage Gmail attachments. It's a shockingly good solution to one of Gmail's biggest hassles. And it's free, at least for now.

Actually, developer Dan Gelertner (who created Dittach with CTO Adam Stern) says there will always be a free version, but an upcoming Pro edition will support more integrations.

For now, Dittach works like this: Add it to Chrome (a Firefox version is due next month), then approve the requested permissions. (As you might expect, Dittach does require full access to your Gmail account -- no doubt a security concern for some businesses. According to the privacy policy, the developer will share only "general, non-personal information with third parties.")

The first time you sign back into Gmail, Dittach will walk you through a quick and handy tutorial.

Not that you're likely to need it. The tool is very simple to use, with an omnipresent sidebar (which can toggle between three different widths) displaying thumbnails of all your attachments, starting with the most recent.

Click any attachment to select it, and mouse over it for a full-size pop-up view. An accompanying toolbar lets you download, forward, or share the item.

You can also click a tab at the bottom to filter the attachment list by various categories: PDFs, documents, photos, and the like. And, of course, standard Gmail search works like always, but with Dittach listing the attachments accompanying your search.

Not to gush, but this thing is freaking awesome. Google should buy it outright and incorporate it into Gmail -- not that Google seems to have much interest in actually improving Gmail. (That's right, I said it.)

If you've ever struggled with finding or managing attachments -- and, let's face it, you have -- I can't recommend Dittach highly enough. It's the best freebie I've seen all week. Maybe all month.

Your thoughts?

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