Traditionally, you've had to download email attachments before you can open them. This takes time and leaves you waiting for the download to complete, particularly when the file is something large like a video. After you've finished with the clip, it ends up in your downloads folder where it lingers around forever more, wasting storage space.
come up with a solution. If you its use the online web-based Gmail client, you can now preview videos in the browser without having to download them. You'll start to see the feature show up from today when you receive an email with a video attached.
Clicking the attachment will open the video in an in-browser media player. It will begin to play automatically, streaming over the Internet in the same
way as a YouTube video. By default, nothing will be downloaded but you can choose to manually save the file if you need it on your PC.
For most users, the preview's probably going to be enough, letting you watch the video immediately without waiting for the entire thing to download. The online media player is fairly robust, including options to change the streaming quality and cast the
clip to a network device.
Google described the feature as a "quality of life improvement" that while basic makes Gmail easier to use. It's powered by the same backend infrastructure as the servers that support YouTube and Google Drive, ensuring all video is streamed from a dependable service.
"Today, we’re rolling out a quality of life improvement to Gmail desktop users that makes previewing video attachments in Gmail much smoother and quicker," said Google
. "Starting today, when opening an email with video attachments, you will see a thumbnail of the video and have the ability to stream it, right from inside Gmail."
Unfortunately, the impact of the feature will be limited as all attachments are still subject to Google's low attachment limit. Although the company recently doubled it
to a total of 50MB, the cap remains highly restrictive when transferring videos or lots of smaller files in bulk.
With a few minutes of Full HD content consuming hundreds of megabytes, the streaming capabilities won't have a chance of handling the large files where they'll be most useful. Google is still trying to convince people to use its Drive cloud storage service over email attachments.
Drive includes an online media player for videos and is capable of generating links to content. These can be shared with people over email, without physically transferring any data.
Video streaming for Gmail attachments is available from today in the desktop version of the Gmail web app. It may take a couple of weeks to reach every user.