The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon

How to add pho­tos to your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame via email


Do you want to email a pic­ture from your phone to your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame at home? And allow friends & fam­i­ly to do the same?

Here is a sim­ple solu­tion using a free ded­i­cat­ed Google Gmail account and a Python script run­ning on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame.

Once installed, every per­son who has the email address of your frame and adds the secret hash­tag in the sub­ject line can send you images that will be auto­mat­i­cal­ly added to your pho­tos repos­i­to­ry.

Sim­ple is as sim­ple does

Reg­u­lar­ly adding images to the col­lec­tion on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame is a cru­cial ingre­di­ent to enjoy­ing the expe­ri­ence every day a bit more.

I have described a solu­tion to share your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame image fold­er with fam­i­ly & friends using Resilio Sync. But some­times even this is too much has­sle, and you want an even sim­pler solu­tion.

This is why it is help­ful to have alter­na­tive ways to add images that are both ful­ly auto­mat­ed and require no main­te­nance.

One approach is to send one or sev­er­al images to a ded­i­cat­ed dig­i­tal pic­ture frame email account. The emails have to be marked with a secret hash­tag, and only emails with a valid hash­tag are scanned. The pho­tos will then be down­loaded and added to your frame - with­out you hav­ing to do a thing.

Fol­low­ing this scan, all emails are being moved to a "Processed" fold­er, includ­ing those that did not have a match­ing hash­tag - keep­ing your inbox always tidy.

I chose not to delete emails but move them to anoth­er fold­er instead because it makes debug­ging eas­i­er should there be any issues. As Gmail grants 15 GB of stor­age quo­ta, you are unlike­ly to run out of space.

The fol­low­ing instruc­tions assume that you have read the arti­cle "How to set up your Rasp­berry Pi for your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame".

Cre­ate a Gmail account and set it up for your frame

Go to Gmail and cre­ate a new Email account. Always remem­ber to use a ran­dom, unique and long pass­word.

When you are done, log into your account. The first thing, we need to do is to acti­vate IMAP. Under the gear­wheel, go to "Set­tings" and enable IMAP.

Next, cre­ate a label (this is what fold­ers are called in Gmail) and call it "Processed".

Third, change the secu­ri­ty set­tings so that you can access it from the Rasp­berry Pi.

Go to your account set­tings and "Allow less secure apps".

And last, send an email from your new dig­i­tal pic­ture frame email account to your stan­dard email address and reply. This seems to be help­ful to show Google at least once that you are not a robot as your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame email will only receive emails in the future.

That's it. You have now con­fig­ured your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame's email address.

The Python script to down­load the images

The Python script does the fol­low­ing:

It checks your Gmail account if you have any new emails. If there are new emails, it will ver­i­fy if the sub­ject line includes your secret hash­tag like "#myp­ic­tures". The hash­tag can be any­where in the sub­ject line.

If new mails with the secret hash­tag are being found, the script will check to see if there are any images and will down­load them into a fold­er called "attach­ments" in the Pi home direc­to­ry. Sev­er­al images can be includ­ed in one email, and all are down­loaded.

Just tell your friends & fam­i­ly to send the pho­tos with the high­est res­o­lu­tion set­ting and to not resize them in the email pro­gram. That way, you will have the best pho­to qual­i­ty on your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame.

You can copy and paste the fol­low­ing code into a new Python file called Or down­load it here.

  1. #!/usr/bin/env python3
  2. # read emails and detach attachment in attachments directory
  4. import email
  5. import getpass, imaplib
  6. import os
  7. import sys
  8. import time
  10. detach_dir = '.'
  11. if 'attachments' not in os.listdir(detach_dir):
  12.     os.mkdir('attachments')
  14. userName = 'enter-your-gmail-account-name-here'
  15. passwd = 'enter-your-password-here'
  17. try:
  18.     imapSession = imaplib.IMAP4_SSL('',993)
  19.     typ, accountDetails = imapSession.login(userName, passwd)
  20.     if typ != 'OK':
  21.         print ('Not able to sign in!')
  22.         raise Exception
  25.     typ, data =, 'SUBJECT', '"#mypictures"')
  26.     if typ != 'OK':
  27.         print ('Error searching Inbox.')
  28.         raise Exception
  30.     # Iterating over all emails
  31.     for msgId in data[0].split():
  32.         typ, messageParts = imapSession.fetch(msgId, '(RFC822)')
  34.         if typ != 'OK':
  35.             print ('Error fetching mail.')
  36.             raise Exception
  38.         emailBody = messageParts[0][1] 
  39.         mail = email.message_from_bytes(emailBody) 
  41.         for part in mail.walk():
  43.             if part.get_content_maintype() == 'multipart':
  45.                 continue
  46.             if part.get('Content-Disposition') is None:
  48.                 continue
  50.             fileName = part.get_filename()
  52.             if bool(fileName): 
  53.                 filePath = os.path.join(detach_dir, 'attachments', fileName)
  54.                 if not os.path.isfile(filePath) : 
  55.                     print (fileName)
  56.                     print (filePath)
  57.                     fp = open(filePath, 'wb')
  58.                     fp.write(part.get_payload(decode=True))
  59.                     fp.close()
  62.'inbox', readonly=False)
  63.     resp, items =, 'All')
  64.     email_ids = items[0].split()
  65.     for email in email_ids:
  66.         latest_email_id = email
  68.         #move to processed
  69.         result =, '+X-GM-LABELS', 'Processed')
  71.         if result[0] == 'OK':
  72.             #delete from inbox
  73.   , '+FLAGS', '\\Deleted')
  77.     imapSession.close()
  78.     imapSession.logout()
  80. except :
  81.     print ('No attachments were downloaded')

A few notes:

Enter your Gmail account name (with­out "") and your pass­word in

userName = 'enter-your-gmail-account-name-here'
passwd = 'enter-your-password-here'

You can change the down­load direc­to­ry by mod­i­fy­ing this line


You can change your secret code word by edit­ing


Make sure that you keep the sin­gle and dou­ble quotes.

typ, data =, 'SUBJECT', '"#mypictures"')

Place the script into your Rasp­berry Pi home direc­to­ry.

To call this script every hour, you have to mod­i­fy your crontab file.

In Ter­mi­nal enter

crontab -e

and add the fol­low­ing line in the edi­tor:

0 * * * * python3

Test your set­up with a few emails (don't for­get the hash­tag in the sub­ject line) and see if it works as expect­ed. You will find your images in the "attach­ments" fold­er in the Rasp­berry Pi home direc­to­ry.

Are you ready for the next move?

To make this whole process of adding images even more con­ve­nient, new­ly arrived pho­tos  can be auto­mat­i­cal­ly ver­i­fied and cropped to fit the aspect ratio of your dig­i­tal pic­ture frame. Then, they will be moved to a direc­to­ry based on the EXIF date the pho­to was tak­en.

This automa­tion will be the sub­ject of a forth­com­ing arti­cle.