Why did my rule not download the attachment or email?

This post will go over common troubleshooting steps to help you set up the correct email rules to get the behavior you want.

First off, this post only covers the PRO versions in depth. For the free version, refer to the free download page for instructions.

The assumption for the rest of this post is that you are using the global rules tab to setup the download.

So global filters are critical for the best use of the PRO Client and PRO Server versions. If you have not already setup global filters or rules, the recommendation is to do that as soon as possible.

Here are a few blog posts to help educate yourself about the PRO product and the use of global filters:

    1. IMPORTANT (READ THIS FIRST): Setup global filters for your email attachment processing. Learn about filters, extractions, save locations and actions inside a rule.
    2. If you work with multiple email accounts, learn how to set them up using global filters — multiple email accounts setup
    3. Configure the rules to save email bodies or attachments as PDF or other formats. 
    4. Understand the intricacies of setting up rules to extract data from emails or attachments. Then use that extracted data in actions.
    5. If you work with databases, learn how to save or read data from a database and use them in your actions.
Bookmark the tips and tricks page for tips on how to use the program.

Why did my rule not work?

To answer this and/or other questions like why the rule did not download the attachment or email, enable Rule Tracing.

The best way to troubleshoot any rule is to enable this new feature we have introduced called Rule Tracing. So rule tracing helps you  trace through what happened when a connect and download was initiated.

Rule tracing walks you through how the program decided to process the emails. It helps you understand which rules matched or did not match for every email or attachment that was processed!

Latest build

Only the latest build (v 3.2.1015 or later) has this new Rule Tracing functionality. So make sure you upgrade to this latest build.

Upgrading is easy. All settings are always preserved while upgrading.

NOTE for PRO Server users:  If you are running a service, uninstall the service from the Service tab first. Not doing this may interrupt the installation of the latest build.

  • Free instructions — If you are using the free version, just go to our website to get and install the latest build.
  • PRO instructions — If you are using the PRO versions, use the SAME link that you received in your license email to install the latest build. Your settings will be preserved with the upgrade.

How can you tell which build you are on?

To check the build you currently have, hover the mouse over the main title text (i.e. “Mail Attachment Downloader”) in the main program window.

version and build

You should see a popup with the version eg. 3.2 and the build 3.2.955.0 (955 is the build) as shown above.

How do you enable rule tracing?

It’s easy, just go to the Global filters tab and check the Rule Tracing checkbox (see the red text box highlight).

rule tracing

The search icon next to the Rule Tracing checkbox will not show anything until you run a Connect And Download session.

IMPORTANT: Before running a trace…

To make sure the program has a chance to process all email, do the following:

  • Uncheck the Exclude inline attachments checkbox inside every Global Rule that has the control enabled
  • Go to Global Filters tab -> Search in ->
    • Select Messages Since Last Download radio button if you are SURE there is new email that meets the criteria
    • Select All mail radio button to scan all email from the start of time. The program will then scan all email (this setting will apply for every account).
  • Check the Inline content button

Running a trace…

Once you have enabled rule tracing, you will need to run a connect and download to test it out.

But before we proceed, a little advice for PRO Server service users follows…

  • If you are running the PRO Server and a service, uninstall the service  first so you can troubleshoot the issue using a normal connect and download.
  • If you are having troubles with the service itself and the connect and download is working fine here’s what to do. The most likely cause for this is that you have not uninstalled and re-installed the service from within the program after changing some configuration. Config changes only take effect in the service after uninstalling and re-installing the service from within the program’s service tab.

Before running a connect and download, we recommend setting up the rules so you focus on the problematic email or attachment. To do so, you may need to disable certain rules (right click and disable them).

Or you may need to change the Search criteria (Search in… section) to All mail and alter the dates (Search between dates… section) when you want the program to process emails.

This way when you run the connect and download we won’t process all emails again but will just focus in on the specific email or attachment you want to troubleshoot.

Now click Connect and Download to initiate the trace and let it finish.

Analyzing the trace…

Once the connect and download has finished, switch back to the Global filters tab. Then click the Search button small search button next to the Rule Tracing checkbox.

This should bring up a popup window something to the effect of the below.

Email Attachment trace view

Now lets look at how to analyze the information presented in this window.

Step-1: Select the download session based on time shown that you want to analyze.

Trace view - step 1

Step-2: Select an email that should have downloaded emails or attachments or should have run rules or actions and you think there’s an issue with it.

Trace view - step 2

Step-3: Look at every part or attachment of the email and drill down into which rules ran and which rules matched or did not match and why.

Trace view - step 3

That’s it!

NOTE: Rules are run ordered from top to down (in the order they show up in the Global filters tab). So if a rule matched, no more rules under that rule will run.  You can change the ordering in the Global filters tab by dragging and moving a rule around.

With this you should be able to find out why one or more rules did not download any attachments. And then you should be able to tune the rule configurations to ensure that it does what you want it to do.

Bulk download emails, attachments and save

Mail Attachment Downloader lets you bulk download attachments,  bulk download emails and archive or save them as eml, pdf, docx, tiff and more.

Saving emails and email attachments has never been easier. We offer a FREE version available on our website and also a PRO version that has additional capabilities that the FREE version does not.

Mail Attachment Downloader is NOT dependent on any installed email client such as Outlook and can work independently on a server if need be.

The FREE version lets you bulk download email attachments. The PRO version lets you bulk download both email attachments and emails (in .eml format or .txt or .html formats or .pdf or .docx or a .tiff multipage image).

If you want to save emails and attachments into a SINGLE PDF, you can do so as described in this blog post.

Bulk download emails as .eml and save

We will explore how to set this up using the  Mail Attachment Downloader PRO version.

  • Create a new rule filter by going to the Global Filters tab and clicking on Add a new filter.
  • Type in the rule name for the new filter.
  • In the Save area, check the Save as .eml checkbox as shown

    Bulk download emails

This will bulk download emails as .eml files to the save folder.

In addition to the above, you can create many rules to only save certain .eml files like those that match a certain FROM email or a certain SUBJECT each out to different folders by creating a rule per save location.

Save emails and email attachments as PDF, DOCX or TIFF

If you want to have this .eml saved to a different format like PDF or DOCX or a multipage TIFF (the PRO Server supports over 50+ file formats), do the following:

  • In the Actions after save section, click on Add action -> Document conversion
  • Select the Document conversion entry if not already selected and click the Add conversion button

    convert to pdf
    archive emails
  • Select the From type as Any doc and the To type as PDF or TIFF or DOCX.

That’s it!

Now you have emails being saved to PDF or any other format as desired.

If you want only the .eml to be saved without the attachments, you can add a Filename filter and specify ‘.eml’ in the filter text box. This will only download the .eml’s without downloading the attachments separately.

If you want to save emails and attachments into a SINGLE PDF, you can do so as described in this blog post.

Automate bulk downloads

With the PRO Server version you can run the above setup 24×7 as a Windows Service and not have to worry about opening up the program every time you need to bulk download emails.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Further reading

Some interesting how-to links and posts for further exploration:

Contact us

Contact us if you have any questions, suggestions about the functionality described in this article.