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My ever-reliable laziness led me to find a way to automate the transfer of files from Google Drive to the Kindle. Here's what I found.

Sending to Kindle from Google Drive or Dropbox can be done by automatically emailing files to your Kindle personal email. The process involves the use of an automation tool such as Zapier, which will trigger every time a new file is uploaded to the designated folders.

In this post, I will guide you on how to set up this system along with a few limitations I've come across. We'll wrap up with a summary of the benefits to be gained with this approach.

For this example, I've organized my eBooks into three folders: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Work. Every time a new file is added to those folders, our goal is to make them appear on the Kindle.

Sample folders we want to send to Kindle. We just dragged "Chapters from My Autobiography.pdf" by Mark Twain. Speaking of that book, here's a little quiz about Mark Twain's system on writing that book. Let's call it Exhibit A, and a clue.

How to automatically send to Kindle from Google Drive

To begin, you would need a free Zapier account. Zapier is an automation tool that will watch for a trigger, in this case a new file being added to a folder. Afterwards, Zapier will perform an action, such as sending an email.

Here's how to set it up.

Step 1 - Sign up to Zapier

You can skip this step if you already have a Zapier account. Otherwise go to zapier.com and sign up for a free account. Note that using the "Sign up with Google" option makes connecting with Google Drive a little faster later on.

Step 2 - Create a zap, set up the Google Drive trigger

A zap is a set of tasks comprising a trigger and the corresponding actions to perform. We would need one zap for each folder in Google Drive that we want to monitor.

To make this easier, I created a sample that you can use optionally. You would just need to change the parameters specific to your account. To see the sample click here:

Or you can start by clicking on the large Make a Zap button.

Give your zap a descriptive name, such as "Send to Kindle from Google Drive My-Folder-Name."

Select "Google Drive" as the App Event and choose "New File in Folder" For the Trigger Event. Click Continue.

Next select the Google Drive account containing the files you want to send. You may be asked to sign-in to that Google account and grant permissions to Zapier.

Then select "My Google Drive" and choose the folder you want to monitor for new files. This approach will only look at one folder for each zap. To monitor multiple folders, you would need to create multiple zaps.

Alternatively, you can use the "New File" trigger (instead of "New File in Folder"), but that has some limitations which we will discuss shortly.

After that, verify the configuration by clicking "Test Trigger". Make sure you have at least one recent file in the folder that you selected earlier.

IMPORTANT: The Zapier-Google Drive integration only considers files modified within a few days ago (around 4 days as of this writing). Files that were created or modified longer than that will be ignored.

You should see a success confirmation like this. The file that was found will be indicated as well. Click Continue to complete this step.

Step 3 - Connect email

Zapier connects to various email providers. For this example, select GMail. And in the Action Event, choose "Send Email".

Next you may be asked to sign-in and authorize Zapier (unless you have already connected GMail previously). Allow Zapier's authentication request.

Then select your GMail account and click continue.

Next we need to set up the action that will run for each trigger event.

Fill-out the form with the following fields:

TO: Enter your personal kindle email. More info about how to find your kindle email here.

FROM: This would default to the primary email address of your GMail account. You can select another if you prefer.

Note that your email must be included in your approved list of senders, or Kindle will just ignore it. See how you can add your email address to the list.

SUBJECT: Enter "convert" (without the double quotes). This will transform the file to the native Kindle format. It will have improved readability, but will lose most of its original the layout. More info about converting files here.

BODY: Kindle doesn't require this, but Zapier does. I suggest using the File's title for easy reference later.

ATTACHMENT: Here we tell Zapier to use the file that was identified in the trigger step by selecting "1. File".

Click Continue.

Step 4 - Test and Run

Hit the Test & Continue button. You should see a success message like the one below.

Finally, turn on the zap and you can begin uploading files to your Google Drive. You can expect the files to appear on your Kindle within a few minutes.

You would need to repeat this process for every folder that you want to monitor. This can be done by copying the zap in the "My Zaps" page. Note however, that Zapier's free plan only allows for 5 zaps at a time.

It is advisable to manage the volume of files you simultaneously upload to Google Drive. This method will send an email for each file, so be careful not to trigger too many emails in one go.

Troubleshooting the system

If you are not seeing the documents show-up automatically in your Kindle, here are a few ways to quickly check the setup:

  • Inside Zapier, you can trigger the zap to run manually instead of waiting for it to trigger. Inside the Zaps page, click the drop down icon and select "Run Zap".
  • Open your GMail and go to "Sent". You should see emails sent to your Kindle email.
  • Check your GMail inbox if there are any alerts or errors.
  • Take note that GMail has a file size limit of 25MB.
  • You can also use the Amazon website to check if the document has reached your library. Here are instructions on how to find your docs using that website.

    Select "Docs" from the "Show" field and hit refresh. Your new files should show up on top by default within a few minutes.

The next section talks about other common issues you might encounter.

Common Problems with Zapier & Google Drive

  • Zapier's Google Drive integration only looks at files that were created or modified recently. As of last check, that means 4 days. So if you received a file from a month ago and just now dragged it to the Google Drive, the system will not pick it up.
  • Zapier will only trigger for newly uploaded files, not files that already exist in your Google drive.
  • The free plan of Zapier will only trigger every fifteen minutes. But if you are in a hurry, you can also click on the Run Zap option manually in the Zaps page.
  • There is no trigger to monitor a specific folder with all its sub-folders. There is only a Trigger that monitors new files across your entire Google Drive or only for a specific folder (excluding sub-folders).

    So unless you want to have every file in your entire Google Drive be sent to Kindle, you might be better off in just selecting specific folders. Alternatively, you can have a separate Google Drive account dedicated to your eBooks.
  • More details about common problems are listed here.
  • In some cases, you may be asked to do an additional verification to the email that was sent automatically. Watch out for messages in your inbox and follow the instructions from Amazon if any.

    These extra verifications are usually due to something about your email provider that causes Amazon to trigger the extra check. Based on our tests, using GMail generally avoids this problem.

Of all the limitations above, I find the "recent files only" situation to be the most problematic. As checking the date attributes of each file is very cumbersome and kind of defeats the whole purpose of automation.

An alternative is to use Dropbox which doesn't have that limitation. So you can upload files regardless of when they were created or modified.

How to automatically send to Kindle from Dropbox

Sending to Kindle from Dropbox can be done similarly to Google Drive. You would need to use an automation tool such as Zapier to monitor your Dropbox folder and automatically send an email to your Kindle. Dropbox is able to read files regardless of when they were created or modified.

Step 1 - Sign up to Zapier

Sign up or login to Zapier.com.

Step 2 - Create a zap, set up the Dropbox trigger

Optionally, I created a sample that you can use. You would just need to change the parameters specific to your account. To see the sample click here:

Or you can also start by clicking the large Make a zap button. Then proceed to fill-out the zap's name, app and trigger event.

After clicking continue, you would be asked to sign-in to your Dropbox account and grant access to Zapier.

Next, set up the trigger by selecting the folder you want to watch for new files.

Finally, hit Test Trigger and you should see a success message. Make sure there is a file in your Dropbox folder before you click on Test.

Step 3 - Connect email

This step is almost identical to the procedure above for Google Drive. The only differences are the variables picked up from the trigger in the previous step. Here, you would be selecting Dropbox parameters for the Body and Attachments field.

Step 4 - Test and run

Click on Test & Continue and you should see a confirmation page. Finally, hit "Turn on Zap" to enable it and begin uploading files to your Dropbox folder.

You would need to copy and setup this zap for every Dropbox folder to be monitored.

Common problems with Zapier & Dropbox

  • Zapier currently doesn't have a trigger that can monitor a Dropbox folder alongside all its sub-folders.
  • The free plan of Dropbox offers a much smaller storage space compared to Google Drive (2GB vs 15GB at the time of this writing).
  • More details about other common problems are listed here.

Benefits of automation in sending to Kindle from Google drive or dropbox

Previously, we talked about quick ways to send documents to the Kindle. And for that we have prepared a comprehensive article.

Nevertheless, having an automatic system that sits quietly in the background adds an efficient tool to the busy Kindle reader. It helps provide a seamless transition from one device (say your computer or mobile phone) to the kindle.

Specially if your files are coming from multiple devices, having them all come together into a central folder in the cloud minimizes the need to install different apps and remember various sending methods.

The Send to Kindle app is very convenient, but it's only for Windows and Mac PCs. If you need to send from a mobile phone, a chromebook, or a Linux desktop, you'd have to use other methods. But both Google Drive and Dropbox are easily accessible across most devices.

This system also has a nice side-benefit of being able to detect if you have already sent a particular document to the Kindle. Using the other methods would simply create a duplicate in the Kindle if you happen to send the document multiple times.

Give it a shot and please let us know if it helps you or you run into any problems.

And as always, if you have a Kindle or eReader question you need investigated, please don't hesitate to drop us a line.

Here's the answer to Exhibit A: #3 does not describe his system.