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Add file uploads to 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.

When setting up email notifications for submitted forms (such as those triggered by response submissions or passage through a workflow), form authors can opt to include uploaded files in those emails. 


These are attached to automated emails or, if they're too large to attach, included as a link.File uploads are not included in automated emails directed to respondents. You can still include links to those uploaded files by piping that data into automated emails.

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 40MB, 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 40MB limit.
  • This means that the size of the file can increase in the email conversion process. Usually, files under 25MB 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 25MB 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 25MB 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 25MB, set the number of files to one, but if you have a maximum of 5MB, then you can allow up to five files.

Allow access to files without a login

If you want to avoid your staff having to log in to access files above 25MB, 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 Response files, select Allow access.
  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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