A free solution to have any recieved email automatically printed out?
March 25, 2006 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a free solution that would AUTOMATICALLY print received emails from a POP account (Gmail, to be exact). If there's ANYONE out there who knows how, you'd be my hero for life (at least, until next week :D)...

If I can get just the basics down, I'll be happy. But for super-extra-mega points, I'd like any or all of the following fufilled in addition to the free automatic email printing:

1: To be a stand alone application (ie. not a thunderbird extension).

2: To be able to selectively print out, based on subject or something else in headers (by email alias would be GREAT (ie: bob+email@gmail.com)).

3: Dear god, please let it be easy. The folks who I'm setting this up for are car people, not computer people.

4: Small footprint would be nice.

5: The ability to automaticly print .doc files (.pdf's are STRICTLY frosting on the cake).

And just to reiterate, even if it does 1-5, it isn't useful unless it's a FREE AUTOMATIC EMAIL PRINTING APPLICATION THAT INTERFACES WITH GMAIL (POP is Ok).

I think that about sums it up. I realize that I likely won't be able to find all five, but even if I found a thunderbird extension that did all of it, I'd be ok. But for a 10.0, hit all the numbers.

I've heard about such a thing before, but for the life of me, I can't find it.

Thanks in advance to anyone who replys. I really appreciate it.
posted by TrueVox to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
You need to specify the operating system of the computer. I'm assuming this is a continuous (always-on) Internet connection? This would be fairly easy to set up in a UNIX-based Operating System but I'm getting the feeling this is a Windows thing.
posted by onalark at 8:04 PM on March 25, 2006

There's no effin' way that this will format correctly, but you can get almost your entire program from the Net::POP3 man page on CPAN. Basically, you should be able to write this in perl very easily. This example should get you rockin'. Send your POP3 message to a file, and then print it. Easy on Linux.

use Net::POP3;

    # Constructors
    $pop = Net::POP3->new('pop3host');
    $pop = Net::POP3->new('pop3host', Timeout => 60);

    if ($pop->login($username, $password) > 0) {
      my $msgnums = $pop->list; # hashref of msgnum => size
      foreach my $msgnum (keys %$msgnums) {
        my $msg = $pop->get($msgnum);
        print @$msg;


posted by popechunk at 8:05 PM on March 25, 2006

You could probably glue something together with fetchmail, Procmail, and some kind of .doc parser. It wouldn't be easy to set up for the first time -- Procmail is good at what it does but the configuration language sucks -- but once configured, it should run forever without the intervention of the end user.
posted by majick at 8:08 PM on March 25, 2006

popechunk's solution isn't going to handle the attachments.
posted by onalark at 8:27 PM on March 25, 2006

Response by poster: Oi! I can't believe I forgot to mention: Yep. It's Windows. Sadly.

Will the Perl solution still work without setting up a server of some kind? Though honestly, I'm looking for something a bit, well, stupider (I'm not the brightest one out there either). And Majick, I'll check that out, but if the config is too challenging, it too may not work (I only have time to wade through so much for something that's gonna be a set and forget).

Still though, I like the feel of the answers. Keep em comming!

(P.S. If it makes it any easier, forget about the no thunderbird extension part. I'll take 'em if you got 'em.)
posted by TrueVox at 8:55 PM on March 25, 2006

onalark wrote:

popechunk's solution isn't going to handle the attachments.

Right you are. There are ways to convert Word to text in perl but it looks like they only work on Windows, and only if you have Word installed. You would still need to strip the attachment out of the file and get it to print.

I kinda mentally skimmed over the attachments problem. If his end-users are as non-savvy as he claims, there could be problems making this proggie reliably handle every possible attachment it might get fed.
posted by popechunk at 8:58 PM on March 25, 2006

Disclaimer: I have not used these products, I found them through a search.
Disqualification: They're not free. Alternatively, if you use Outlook, it is theoretically possible to write a VBScript "macro" to print all emails and attachments, but I have no code to offer, sorry.
posted by blue mustard at 9:46 PM on March 25, 2006

here you go - $19.90, though.

"Automatic Print Email enables you to print your email messages automatically as they arrive in your POP3 account. The program checks your POP account every X minutes and then prints all email messages on the printer of your choice. You can also create filters that will delete or skip messages that match certain criteria. Unfortunately there is no way to limit printing to specific emails, since it will print all messages by default, unless they are specifically excluded by a filter - for most users, this will cause large amounts of spam to be printed as well. If you have an email account that does not receive any junk mail, give it a try."
posted by drstein at 10:30 PM on March 25, 2006

Both those products have free trial periods, FWIW.
posted by flabdablet at 10:34 PM on March 25, 2006

I'll write it for a big stack of...
wait for it...

Alternately, someone should be able to whip up an Outlook macro as stated above, or a Python or Perl or Ruby script, or even something involving the Windows Scripting Host or dotNET or whatever that stuff is called these days.

Whatever you end up with, it sounds like you want a complete, userfriendly, one-button install type of deal. It can all be done "for free" in the sense of "with free software", but probably not in the sense of "with no effort whatsoever involved in gluing together/scripting stuff".

On a side note, on the Windows platform you should be able to print any attachment you have the software for pretty easily.
posted by cps at 10:38 PM on March 25, 2006

Best answer: Hmm, take that back. It looks like Outlook 2000, which you have a good chance of having on your Microsoft Office install if not your computer, has this already.

See this Microsoft article on how to do automatic printing in Outlook 2000. (It's not clear from the article whether it prints attachments but I think Outlook does this automatically, might be a setting.)

If that doesn't work there seem to be some plugins that let you specify Print as an action in a rule at around the $20 mark, and probably some free ones as well.
posted by cps at 10:50 PM on March 25, 2006

posted by cps at 10:51 PM on March 25, 2006

Best answer: Finally, this article explains how to toggle on the "print all attachments" box.
posted by cps at 10:56 PM on March 25, 2006

Response by poster: Well, that should work. I'll try it as soon as I get back to work. Thanks a bunch!
posted by TrueVox at 4:03 PM on March 26, 2006

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