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Print Email Attachments automatically with a RaspberryPI- 23 June 2015 - (5) Comments

Thomas Hampel
 23 June 2015

I am tired of printing email attachments. Yes, I still need to print some of them e.g. invoices for tax computation or travel reimbursement needs, or credit card balance sheets for archiving them offline.
Most of them are e-mails with PDF file attachments which I need to print on a regular basis. In order to print them I need to be at home, using a device with apropriate printer drivers installed and connected to my home network.

There must be a more simple method, so lets see how to allow mobile or remote printing.

What options do we have for remote printing?
  • Google Cloud Print - would be the easiest option but who wants to forward personal data to Google?
  • Using web-connected printers like those from HP or EPSON or Canon, but my current printer(s) do work fine and I see no reason to replace them.
    Furthermore any mail would be routed to the vendors environment which I dont trust.
    • VPN - probably the best approach, but still requires printer drivers and VPN software to be installed.
      Since none of the options above satisfied my needs, lets see if we can build a solution ourselfes...maybe using a Raspberry Pi
      Main idea is to poll an IMAP account on a regular basis and if new mail will meet certain criteria then print the PDF file attachment.

      Image:Print Email Attachments automatically with a RaspberryPI

      Step 1 - Preparations

      Obviously you need to
      buy a Raspberry PI, the Model B+ is enough. You also need some further equipment like a memory card, power adapter, keyboard, etc.
      installing and configuring the operating system you need to:
    • Enable SSH
    • Apply latest patches by running update and Upgrade
      $ sudo apt-get update -y && apt-get upgrade -y
    • Install updates automatically by using apt-cron
      $ sudo apt-get install apt-cron
    • Configure your network adapter preferably assign a static IP
    • Change system locale and keyboard layout to fit your needs
    • Don't forget to Change the default password
    • When using a WiFi dongle disable WiFi Adapter Power Saving Mode
      Step 2 - Set up a new IMAP (or POP3) account

      Contact your provider for a description how to do that. Make sure your provider supports SSL/TLS connections and make sure to enable antivirus/antispam control for your IMAP account.
      Remark: SmartCloud Notes / Connections Cloud users need to enable IMAP access first (
      see details)

      Step 3 - Import SSL Root certificate(s)

      SSH into your Raspberry PI and start by creating a new directory for this project
      mkdir pimailprint
      cd pimailprint

      verification of SSL certificates we would like to store SSL certificates of our mail provider locally, preferably in another subdirectory.
      mkdir sslcerts
      wget {url-of-provider certificate} -O ./sslcerts/provider-name.cer
      c_rehash ./sslcerts/

      You can verify the functionality
      using OpenSSL

      Step 4 - Install Prerequisites

      Install the required packages

      sudo apt-get install fetchmail procmail uudeview

      Create a configuration file for fetchmail, in our case the file will be located in the project directory instead of the users home folder.
      With this configuration I'm using procmail as mail delivery agent in order to further process the inbound mail.

      nano ./fetchmail.conf

      using this configuration:

      set no bouncemail

      service 993

      protocol imap

      user "YOUR-USERNAME"

      password "YOUR-PASSWORD"



      sslproto TLS1

      no keep

      mda "/usr/bin/procmail -m './procmail.conf'"

      Change file permissions so only you can open and see the file.

      chmod 700 ./fetchmail.conf

      Create a configuration file for procmail...

      nano ./procmail.conf

      and use this configuration which will store mails that contain an attachment in the folder ./maildata






      Step 5 - Install and Configure CUPS

      CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) allows any computer to act as a print server.
      Just refer to
      this page for installation and configuration instructions
      Remark: Make sure to set this printer to be your default printer.
      Once completed you can manage the printer queue remotely using https://[ip-address-or-dns-name-of-your-raspberrypi]:631

      Image:Print Email Attachments automatically with a RaspberryPI

      Step 4 - Build your Script

      Create a new shell script...

      touch ./
      chmod +x ./

      nano ./

      using the following code
      # Parameters

      BASEDIR=$(dirname $0)





      # change directory

      echo "Switching directory to : $BASEDIR"

      cd $BASEDIR

      # create log file if it does not exist

      touch $LOGFILE

      date +%r-%-d/%-m/%-y >> $LOGFILE

      # fetch mail

      echo "Checking for new mail..."

      fetchmail -f ./fetchmail.conf -L $LOGFILE

      # process new mails

      shopt -s nullglob

      for i in $MAILDIR/new/*


       echo "Processing : $i" | tee -a $LOGFILE

       uudeview $i -i -p $ATTACH_DIR/

      # process file attachments with space
        cd $ATTACH_DIR

        for e in ./*


                mv "$e" "${e// /_}"


        for f in *.PDF


            mv $f ${f%.*}.pdf


        cd $BASEDIR
      # end of patch
       echo "Printing PDFs" | tee -a $LOGFILE

       for x in $ATTACH_DIR/*.pdf


               echo "Printing : $x" | tee -a $LOGFILE

               lpr $x

               echo "Deleting file : $x" | tee -a $LOGFILE

               rm $x | tee -a $LOGFILE


       echo "Clean up and remove any other attachments"

       for y in $ATTACH_DIR/*


               rm $y


       # delete mail

       echo "Deleting mail : $i" | tee -a $LOGFILE

       rm $i | tee -a $LOGFILE


      shopt -u nullglob

      echo "Job finished." | tee -a $LOGFILE

      cd $CURDIR

      Step 5 - Test and Scheduling

      in order to test the whole script, just run it :)

      To run it on a schedule, just add the whole path to crontab.
      crontab -e -u pi

      in my case it is enough to run this script once per hour, feel free to customize it to your needs

      @hourly  /home/pi/pimailprint/

      Image:Print Email Attachments automatically with a RaspberryPI


      By forwarding a mail to a specific email address I can now print attachments automatically. Back home all the documents I wanted have already been printed or will be printed when switching on my printer and I can quickly process them further on, e.g. for claiming travel expenses back.
      In my case I am forwarding mails manually to a new account if I want to print them. Of course it is also possible to use mail rules for processing mails automatically.

      Enhancement requests / what needs to be done:
      • End to end encryption with S/MIME
    • Reply to sender when print job has completed
    • Define printer settings based on acronym in subject line
      Remark: Feel free to use this script at your own risk.
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