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Accessing file uploads included in OpenForms email notifications

In OpenForms, you can include file upload fields in your forms, so respondents can upload any documents necessary for the form they're completing. If you've set up email notifications for submitted forms, uploaded files will either be attached to the email or included as a link due to the file size limitations of most email clients.

We all take security and respondent privacy seriously, which is evident in conversations we have with you. Keeping this in mind, logging into OpenForms is still the most secure way to access uploaded files.

Email notifications are best used to notify your internal teams of form submissions.

Key points to consider

Emails have a size limit of 10MB, which is made up of the email plus any attached files.

  • When OpenForms converts a form submission with a file upload to an email, there are overheads in the conversion process that contribute to the 10MB limit.
  • This means that the size of the file can increase in the email conversion process. Usually, files under 6MB will come through as attachments in emails.
  • Files above the limit are included as a link in the email notification. The file is stored in OpenForms and the link in the email will take you to your OpenForms login. The file will then download when you log in.

Please note that when Azure AD is available with OpenForms, the need to provide credentials will be bypassed.

If you want to avoid your staff having to log in to access files, there are two options:

  1. Change your file upload field settings to limit the total file size to the 6MB that will come through as an attachment.
  2. Allow anyone with the link to acces response files without a login. We recommend using this option for files that are not confidential. For forms that contain personal information such as identification documents, logging in to OpenForms is the most secure way to access these files.

Limit file uploads and sizes

The best way to ensure uploaded files come through as email attachments is to limit how many files a respondent can upload, and how large the collective file size can be.

  1. Go to the form containing the file upload field which you want to limit. If the form is published, select Edit.
  2. Expand the Settings menu of your file upload field.
  3. Set the Maximum file size (max 1024) to be 6MB or less.
  4. Set the Number of files that can be uploaded (max 100) to a number which matches your maximum file size. For example, if you have a maximum of 6MB, set the number of files to one, but if you have a maximum of 3MB, then allow for two files.

Allow access to files without a login

If you want to avoid your staff having to log in to access files above 6MB, you can include files as downloadable links in email notifications. Your Account Owner will be required to adjust Security settings.

Remember, this method is not to be used for any files that are confidential in nature or which contain respondents' personal data. Here are some examples of when you should and shouldn't use this method:

Use this option for:

  • Forms that collect nonconfidential data, such as an image of a general location or object.
  • Forms that report an issue, such as potholes, graffiti, or illegal rubbish dumping.

Avoid this method with:

  • Forms that collect confidential or personal information about the respondent.
  • Forms in which respondents need to upload personal identity documents, such as passports or a drivers license.

Here's how to do it:

  1. The Account Owner needs to go to Account > Security and, under Accessing files uploaded in form responses, select Allow admins to override this setting on individual forms.
  2. Select Save changes.
  3. Form authors or admin can now go to the form > Settings > Permissions.
  4. Select Viewing responses for the form.
  5. Select Allow anyone with the link to access response files (no login required). If you don't see this option, please ensure the Account Owner has changed the above Security settings.

The file will now be a downloadable link in the email notification. For more details on this process, please check out Let external reviewers access file uploads.

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