AppsScriptPulse

Tips, tricks and scripts for automating your Gmail inbox with Google Apps Script

Image credit: rixxo.com

One the powerful features of Google Apps Script is with a couple of lines of code you can quickly start automating and organising your inbox. For people just getting started with Apps Script Google provide a introductory codelab ‘Accessing Google Sheets, Maps, and Gmail in 4 lines of code!’ and for those wanting to do a bit more the Google Workspace Developer documentation includes a ‘create a mail merge‘ solution.

Mail merge solutions are bit or a reoccurring theme in the world of Google Apps Script. In 2011 the official G Suite Developers Blog featured 4 ways to do Mail Merge using Google Apps Script with community contributions from James Ferreira, Steve Webster and Romain Vialard. The post references Romain’s ‘Yet another Mail Merge’ script, which he went on to develop as a very successful YAMM add-on before refocusing on the Mergo Mail Merge. Even further back when Google Apps Script was officially launched in 2009 this included a introductory video with a mail merge example.

A well as Google official channels the ability to automate your Gmail inbox has regularly caught the attention of the wider tech press. In 2013, Computerworld highlighted Jonathan Kim’s ‘Gmail No Response’ script which goes through your inbox and finds recent emails where you were the last respondent. Jonathan’s blog post is no longer available but the Gmail No Response’ script is on GitHub where it has been forked 100 times.

One of those forks is a variation by Christopher Gee published in Find emails with no reply automatically in Gmail which:

runs through the emails in your inbox and checks your outgoing messages for a question mark. Once it finds these emails it checks to see if they are in a date range and then sees if you have had a response. If you have not had a reply to your email containing a “?” then it adds the label “No Response”. You can then quickly see all of the threads for which you are awaiting a reply.

If you are interested in more Gmail script solutions then I highly recommend you have a look at content shared by Amit Agarwal. This doesn’t just include Apps Script solutions but also a number of Gmail tips and tricks. As many of these feature the way you can search your Gmail inbox they can also be used with GmailApp.search() or if using the Gmail Advanced Service Gmail.Users.Messages.list . A nice example of where a Gmail user tip can be used in Apps Script is Amit’s post which includes how to Search Emails by Specific Time in Gmail.

The list of examples could go on (and I’ve not even mentioned Stonian’s recent post Keep your Gmail inbox size in check with google app scripts :). Do you have a favourite ‘tip, trick or script’ for Gmail and Google Apps Script?

Sources:

Bulk convert Excel files to Google Sheet files

Iterate through a Google Drive folder of Microsoft Excel files and convert them into individual Google Sheet files.

Bulk convert Excel files to Google Sheets

Bulk convert Excel files to Google Sheets

The following Google Apps Script is designed to iterate through a Google Drive folder of Microsoft Excel files and convert them all to individual Google Sheet files.

Source: The Gift of Script: Bulk convert Excel files to Google Sheet files

Formatting date/time values using the user’s timezone in Google Apps Script

Working with dates, times and time zones can often be a bit of a headache. If you’d like to learn more about some of the challenges of dealing with ‘big balls of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff’ I recommend watching Comptuerphile’s Problem with Time & Timezones.

For displaying dates/time values for users in different time zones you can use Utilities.formatDate(date, timeZone, format) , the challenge however is working out the user’s timeZone . For Google Workspace Add-ons developers can configure the manifest option to include user locale information in event objects included as part of action callback functions [See Accessing user locale and timezone].

For web apps and editor add-ons using HTML Service it is possible to get the user’s browser time zone setting with the JavaScript code Intl.DateTimeFormat().resolvedOptions().timeZone (at time of writing this works in 93.85% of browsers). This can be passed back to your server script and used to format date/times for the user’s time zone. This forked gist provides an example of how this can be used in Google Sheets (props to Eric Koleda for the original solution, which uses .getTimezoneOffset() to get the users time zone offset).

The merits of Intl.DateTimeFormat() and .getTimezoneOffset() are discussed in Getting the client’s time zone (and offset) in JavaScript.

If using HTML Service is not an option an alternative workaround is getting the user’s Google Calendar time zone using the Calendar Service and .getTimeZone() . Here is an example script shared on Stack Overflow:

function getUserTimeZone() {
var userTimeZone = CalendarApp.getDefaultCalendar().getTimeZone();
Logger.log(userTimeZone)
}

The downside of this approach is it potentially adds an additional authorisation scope the user will need to approve before the script can run. As noted by Google best practice is always to limit the scopes in your Apps Script projects to the ones you need.

If you’ve got other tips for handling user time zones feel free to pop them in the comments.

Extract and visualize your own Twitter data using Google Apps Script and Google Sheets

Use Apps Script to normalize your tweet data into tabular format for easy visualization & analysis.

I’ve a personal interest in Twitter data, in particular, how it can be collected analysed in Google Sheets so it was nice to see this example from Nick Young (@techupover). The solution shared by Nick uses Google Apps Script to parse a downloaded archive from a Twitter account and write it to a Google Sheet. A nice weekend project if you are looking for something to do :)

Source: Extract & visualize your own Twitter data using Google Apps Script & Google Sheets

Email notification of Drive file changes within last x hours

Periodically check for any changes in a given Google Drive file and receive an email notification if there are any, within your given time-frame.

Email notification of Drive file changes. Image credit: Phil Bainbridge

The following Google Apps Script is designed to periodically check for any changes that have occurred to a given Google Drive file (ie edits to it) and send an email to notify of that. It goes through the Revision (Version History) of the file and looks at the modification dates for those that match with your given timeframe, to then collect the Username & Email address of the person that made those edits for inclusion in the email.

So as an example you may have a Google Sheet where you want to setup a check every 4 hours, to then be emailed if there have been any edits to it, along with who made those edits.

Source: The Gift of Script: Email notification of Drive file changes within last x hours

Get Classroom Data into Google Sheets using Google Apps Script

Image credit: Aryan Irani

In this blog, I am going to show you how to get Google Classroom Data into your Google Sheet using Google Apps Script. Using this, you can keep track of all the classes that you have in your Google Classroom.

This is a nice introductory tutorial from Aryan Irani which looks at exporting basic information about your Google Classroom courses to Google Sheets. The example script imports the main details about your courses but if you are interested in finding out what else is available the official documentation for a course resource outlines what else is available.

Source: Get Classroom Data into your Google Sheet using Google Apps Script

Manage Shared Drives in Google Drive with Google Apps Script – Digital Inspiration

Image credit: Amit Agarwal

These code samples show how you can use Google Apps Script to manage and search through the content of shared drives in Google Drive using the Drive API.

Some handy Google Apps Script snippets from Amit Agarwal for interacting with Shared Drives. The post includes solutions for:

  • Create a Shared Drive
  • Share a Shared Drive with a User
  • List all Shared Drives
  • List Files in a Shared Drive
  • Move Files in Shared Drives
  • Copy Files in Shared Drives

Source: Manage Shared Drives in Google Drive with Google Apps Script – Digital Inspiration

Getting a Google Calendar event owner using Google Apps Script

In the Google Group Apps Script community there was an interesting question about returning a Google Calendar event owner/organiser. The problem was that using the Calendar Service it is possible to use getGuestList(includeOwner) to return the EventGuest[] array and in theory using getGuestStatus() find the guest with the OWNER GuestStatus Enum :

const event = CalendarApp.getEventById('some_event_id');
const guestList = event.getGuestList(true); // get the guest list including owner  
// Iterate across EventGuest[]
for (let i = 0; i < guestList.length; i++){
let guest = guestList[i].getEmail();
let status = guestList[i].getGuestStatus().toString();
Logger.log(guest + ' ' + status);
}

However, in practice as the organiser status defaults to ‘Yes’ and can change to ‘No’ or ‘Maybe’ the OWNER status is never returned:

How to solve? Well one solution to find the owner is to get the event guest list with and without the owner then filter out the list ignoring any accounts that appear twice:

  const event = CalendarApp.getEventById('some_event_id);
const guestList = event.getGuestList(true); // get the guest list including owner
const guestListWithoutOwner = event.getGuestList(); // get the guest list without the owner
// filter the guest list to ingore duplicate emails leaving only the owner
// based on https://stackoverflow.com/a/42995029/1027723
const owner = guestList.filter(o1 => !guestListWithoutOwner.some(o2 => o1.getEmail() === o2.getEmail()));
Logger.log('The owner is: ' + owner[0].getEmail());

Alternatively if the Calendar Advanced Service is enabled in your Apps Script project the owner email can be returned using:

  // With Calendar Advanced Service enabled
// Note: eventId is different to the one returned by CalendarApp as it doesn't include @google.com
// See https://stackoverflow.com/a/55545091/1027723 for how to handle 
const event = Calendar.Events.get(CalendarApp.getDefaultCalendar().getId(), 'some_event_id');
Logger.log('The owner is: ' + event.organizer.email); 

Clearly the second method is more direct, but which is quicker? I’ll let you tell me :)

How to remove a Google Sheets button (drawings) or images connected to a Google Apps Script after the script has been run – Yagisanatode

There have been a few instances in my work where I need to remove a button (more accurately, a button drawing) or and image from a Google Sheets tab once the associated script has been run.

Perhaps we just want the user to run a process on a Google Sheet workbook, just once but not more times. This would be a good case for removing the button or drawing after use.

Note: This tutorial expects that you know how to create a drawing or a button from the Google Sheets drawing tool. 

Some clever Google Sheets pseudo button manipulation shown off here by Scott Donald. If using Apps Script functions assigned to drawings and images is something you are interested by sure to also check out Kanshi Tanaike’s example of ‘Using Google Apps Script to disable custom functions assigned to Google Sheets buttons/images to prevent simultaneous execution‘.

Source: How to remove a Google Sheets button (drawings) or images connected to a Google Apps Script after the script has been run – Yagisanatode

Search Google Drive folders for creation/modified dates using Google Apps Script

Search one level of Google Drive folders and extract creation, last updated and folder names into a Google Sheet.

Enter the Parent folder ID and search the folders within

Enter the Parent folder ID and search the folders within

The following Google Apps Script is designed to search through one level of Google Drive folders and extract the following information into a Google Sheet:

  • The folder name as a direct clickable link,
  • The folder creation date,
  • The folder last updated date,
  • The folder ID.

Source: The Gift of Script: Search Google Drive folders for creation/modified dates

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