download and parse the attachment coming with emails automatically

Jeff Schroeder jeff at
Mon Apr 3 17:42:43 MDT 2006

Bibhor asked:

> Is it possible to automatically capture the attachment sent to an
> email address before they are downloaded by the client program like
> outlook? Once captured I would like to parse the content of the
> attachment.

It depends on the mail server (MTA) you're using.  For qmail, you could 
put the following in your tcpserver.smtp file:


This assumes you've compiled qmail with the QMAILQUEUE patch, and that 
TCPServer is handling incoming connections.  If so, all incoming 
messages will be piped to /var/qmail/bin/myscript, which can be a 
simple Bash script like this:

out=/tmp/`date +%s`$$
cat > $out
if [ -z "`grep 'evil stuff' $out`" ]; then
cat $out > /var/qmail/bin/qmail-queue
rm -f $out

This creates a file with a unique filename (the date in seconds, plus a 
process ID) and checks whether the file contains "evil stuff".  If not, 
the message is piped to qmail-queue, which delivers it.  Otherwise the 
message isn't delivered, and you'll have a copy in /tmp.

Obviously this is a quick hack, and I spent about three minutes 
designing it, so you can probably make it more robust. :)  But the 
point is that it's possible to do all sorts of interesting things prior 
to mail delivery...


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