April 16, 2007

Transfer files to your Gmail account with Gspace

Author: Mayank Sharma

One thing that's made Google's free Gmail online messaging service popular is its multiple gigabytes of storage space. There are several tools that let you use the more than 2GB of space as a virtual Internet drive, the most popular being GmailFS. If you'd prefer to use software that's independent of your base operating system, try Gspace instead. It's a Firefox extension that's easy to install and use.

Setting up Gspace doesn't require much effort -- just download the plugin and it will install itself. To transfer files to your Gmail account, launch Gspace from within Firefox's Tools menu to view the extension's gFTP-like interface. The left pane shows the files on your box, and the right pane shows files that have been transfered onto a Gmail account.

Once Gspace is installed, it'll also add an icon to Firefox's status bar. You can click this icon to open a minimal Gspace panel showing the files that have been transfered to the Gmail account.

Before you can transfer files, you have to log in to your account through Gspace. The Manage Accounts button brings up a simple form with fields for your Gmail ID and password. Fill in your account information, click on Save, and you're done. If you have more than one Gmail account you can log in and transfer data to only one account at a time. If you are signed into a particular Gmail account, on launch Gspace will automatically log on to that account for transferring files. If you have separate accounts for email and for transferring files, to avoid confusion, sign out of Gmail before launching Gspace. Then, from the Gspace interface, select the account you want to transfer files to and click on Login.

Transferring files

With Gspace, by default, you can transfer files that are up to 14MB in size. You can change this limit from within Gspace's Preferences tab. Preferences are shared by all accounts. To avoid confusion, Gspace lists only files on your computer that fall within the attachment size limit.

The transfer procedure is simple. Locate the file or files or even a directory that you want to transfer in the left pane, then either right-click on the file and choose Upload, or just click on the arrow between the two panes that points toward the right pane.

Click to enlarge

The progress of the file transfer is shown in the bottom left portion of the Gspace interface. Gspace can transfer only one file at a time. You can select more files to upload while Gspace is transferring your previous selection. These will be added to a file transfer queue. If you've uploaded a complete directory, Gspace will create a directory of the same name to keep your files under. You can also create your own directories.

Once the files have been uploaded, you can click on them to see their properties, including file size, the email account they've been uploaded to, and so forth.

To download a file, simply select it, right-click on it, and choose Download or click on the arrow pointing toward the left pane.

Using Gspace you can also transfer files from one account into another. To do so, right-click on the file or directory, choose Send To, and enter the email address you want them to be copied to. This operation doesn't require much bandwidth; you can transfer small or large files almost instantaneously, irrespective of your connection speed.

Viewing uploaded files

Once a file has been uploaded using Gspace, it's kept as an email attachment. The message's subject notes the name of the file, along with a few properties such as its size and the directory it resides in. Because of the long subject lines, messages that store files can be distracting; the Gspace FAQ recommends and has instructions for archiving them.

Gspace also has a built-in music player. With it, you can create a playlist and listen to songs that you've uploaded to your account using Gspace. The Gspace player requires Firefox to be equipped with the Flash plugin. There's no official list of supported formats, so I tried playing back MP3 files, which worked, and Ogg files, which didn't. Gspace also packs an image viewer.

Gspace is a nice tool, and being a Firefox extension, it's easy to install and simple to understand and use. Since it's cross-platform, you can retrieve your files irrespective of your operating system. Unlike desktop applications, all Gspace operations are carried out over the Internet, so if you have a slow dial-up connection, you might find Gspace a little sluggish to use. Gspace is an ideal utility for people on the move who want certain files to be unobtrusively available most of the time and easily accessible when required.

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