How to add photos to your digital picture frame via email

By February 18, 2019 March 8, 2019 DIY Instructions, Software

You want to 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, 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.

#!/usr/bin/env python3
# read emails and detach attachment in attachments directory

import email
import getpass, imaplib
import os
import sys
import time

detach_dir = '.'
if 'attachments' not in os.listdir(detach_dir):

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

    imapSession = imaplib.IMAP4_SSL('',993)
    typ, accountDetails = imapSession.login(userName, passwd)
    if typ != 'OK':
        print ('Not able to sign in!')
        raise Exception'Inbox')
    typ, data =, 'SUBJECT', '"#mypictures"')
    if typ != 'OK':
        print ('Error searching Inbox.')
        raise Exception

    # Iterating over all emails
    for msgId in data[0].split():
        typ, messageParts = imapSession.fetch(msgId, '(RFC822)')

        if typ != 'OK':
            print ('Error fetching mail.')
            raise Exception
        emailBody = messageParts[0][1] 
        mail = email.message_from_bytes(emailBody) 

        for part in mail.walk():
            if part.get_content_maintype() == 'multipart':
            if part.get('Content-Disposition') is None:

            fileName = part.get_filename()

            if bool(fileName): 
                filePath = os.path.join(detach_dir, 'attachments', fileName)
                if not os.path.isfile(filePath) : 
                    print (fileName)
                    print (filePath)
                    fp = open(filePath, 'wb')

    resp, items =, 'All')
    email_ids = items[0].split()
    for email in email_ids:
        latest_email_id = email

        #move to processed
        result =, '+X-GM-LABELS', 'Processed')

        if result[0] == 'OK':
            #delete from inbox
  , '+FLAGS', '\\Deleted')



except :
    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 "#myp­ic­tures". 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.