If you have been using Gmail since it was launched in April 2004, you may have run out of storage space. You may have run out of space even quicker if a lot of your emails have large attachments, given that a single camera image can take up several megabytes. You may also have run out of space because Gmail has to share its 15GB of storage space with Google Drive....
The obvious answer is to recover some space by deleting unwanted attachments but, sadly, Gmail doesn't allow that. You can only delete an attachment by deleting the whole email, which you may well want to keep.
Enter Dittach, a Chrome browser extension that provides enhanced access to email attachments, which Rick Broida raved about here in November last year.
At the moment, it's exclusive to Chrome, but Dittach says an Opera version will be out early next month and a Vivaldi version will appear soon after.
Briefly, Dittach shows emails that have attachments in a separate, variable-width "feed" alongside your normal emails. It avoids showing the vast majority of emails that don't have attachments. It also provides a useful extra feature: you can filter the feed to show only one type of file. The options are Photos, Docs, PDFs, Movies, Music and Other. This can save a lot of time if you're looking for a particular attachment.
Dittach now has a new feature that is dear to my heart: it can delete a Gmail attachment while preserving the original email in all its glory.
This is going to make it much easier for "space constrained" Gmail users to free up space without paying Google for extra storage. (Yes, I could afford it, but Google's original promise for Gmail was that we'd never have to delete emails again. I want them to keep their promise.)
Dittach's deletion is hedged with warnings, and the feature is turned off by default. When you turn it on, "you acknowledge that Dittach is not responsible for lost data". Deleted attachments are actually deleted, not just sent to a bin where you can retrieve them later.
However, it makes sense to download attachments before you delete them. Hard drives are so cheap that you can afford terabytes of space.
The deletion is also little more subtle than I expected. The options are: (1) delete the attachment highlighted; (2) delete all attachments; (3) delete the whole email and all the attachments.
The ability to retain one or more attachments is a welcome bonus. Given the uphill struggle of wrangling Gmail, I'd have settled for less.
There are, of course, some drawbacks. The main one is that Dittach has to have access to your Gmail mailbox. There's no other way it could work. Dittach also stores an index of your attachments "and meta data and information such as total number of attachments by type, and, where appropriate, thumbnails of the attachments, allowing you rapid access." It would be a very slow business if Dittach had to rescan tens or hundreds of thousands of emails every time you opened Gmail.
Dittach also offers account deletion, as follows:
Account Deletion. While we hope you'll remain a lifelong Dittacher, if for some reason you ever want to delete your account. You can send us an email and we will delete your entire data index as well as all personal information and login information on our servers. After deletion, this information will no longer be accessible nor recoverable by you or Dittach LLC.
Dittach is a time-saver, if you ever have to look for email attachments, and it's a space-saver, if you want to delete them. Those benefits are enough for me, but YMMV.
I can't say how well Dittach stands up to long-term use, because I've only just started using it.
In a test mailbox with 35 emails and only a few attachments, it took a long time to load, and clicking on the Dittach icon brought up a message that said: "This is taking a longer than usual ;( " (presumably "time"). However, when I returned some hours later, it loaded instantly and worked as described.
According to another error message, "Google limits the number of attachments we can get per day," so it may take a while to process a large mailbox. But it will undoubtedly be quicker than waiting for Google to provide the same functionality.