How to process IMAP messages


How do I process messages once I listed them? I am able to list messages with keyword from Email.ImapSmtp library with list messages. How do I extract text or better images?

I am in robot framework, not python.

Kind regards,

Hi Markus, thanks for your question!

We’ll test this one, and get back to you.

Hi, @Markus!

It seems that the current implementation is a bit low-level, sorry about that!

This is not a complete example yet but gives some hints on how to loop through message contents, attachments, etc.

*** Settings ***
Documentation     Example Robot listing messages from Gmail
Library           RPA.Email.ImapSmtp    smtp_port=587

*** Variables ***
${USERNAME}       xxx
${PASSWORD}       yyy

*** Tasks ***
List messages
    Authorize    account=${USERNAME}    password=${PASSWORD}
    ${folder_list}=    Get Folder List
    ${number_of_inbox_messages}=    Select Folder    folder_name=INBOX
    ${messages}=    List Messages    criterion=SUBJECT "Message generated by robot"
    ${message}=    Set Variable    ${messages}[0]
    FOR    ${part}    IN    @{message.walk()}
        Log    ${part.get_payload()}
Content-Type: application/octet-stream MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 Content-Disposition: attachment; filename= test.txt SGVsbG8h 
MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable This is the body of the email.

The underlying email.message.Message is probably this, if I am not totally mistaken:

As you can see, it is quite low-level. There is an additional EmailMessage class that supposedly makes reading messages easier (, but you kind of need to implement some Python code for that (or maybe there is a library for that somewhere already).

This is something we definitely want to improve in the future.

// Jani

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Hej @jani,

Those were the right advises. Got myself a robot keyword parsing attachments of messages returned by RPA.Email.ImapSmtp.List Messages :slight_smile:

Thank you!


Excellent, @Markus!

Would you feel comfortable sharing that parsing keyword you implemented? Would be interested to see how you did it. :slight_smile:

Sure! I only need the binary of the payload.

from robot.api.deco import library, keyword
from robot.api import logger
from typing import List, Dict
from email.message import Message
import os

class MailServiceLibrary:

    @keyword(name="get attachments from message as binary")
    def get_attachments_from_email(self, message: Message, attachment_suffix: str = '') -> Dict:
        attachments = {}

        # process message parts
        for part in message.walk():
            logger.debug(f'------ {part.get_content_type()}')

            if part.get_content_type() == 'application/octet-stream':
                filename = part.get_filename()
                logger.debug(f'Found attachment:\t{filename}')

                if not attachment_suffix or MailServiceLibrary._extension_does_match_specified_suffix(filename, suffix=attachment_suffix):
                    payload = part.get_payload(decode=True)
                    attachments[filename] = payload
          'No {attachment_suffix} file. Skip attachment:\t{filename}')

        return attachments

    def _extension_does_match_specified_suffix(filename: str, suffix: str) -> bool:
        _, file_extension= os.path.splitext(filename)
        return suffix.lower() == file_extension[1:].lower()


i use criterion=SUBJECT “Message generated by robot” to search, but why result list include all of the email in inbox?

Hi, @nixuewei!

That is strange. I tested this now with rpaframework 2.4.0, and it works correctly for me. If I give a subject that does not match anything, no results. If the subject matches, I only get the matched results.

Can you share your robot (without credentials)?

It also depends on your Mailserver. I use Greenmail for testing which does not support all imap criteria (for example SUBJECT). Which Mailprovider do you use? Maybe it does not support SUBJECT and uses ALL as fallback.

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@jani and @Markus Thank you for your kindly reply. I use a chinese mailbox named QQ. it seems can’t support imap criteria. would you give some mailserver that support imap criteria or maybe expect some new keyword to easy to search message by subject or check read and unread status

FYI @Markus, @nixuewei

We added an example for listing email messages using the List Messages keyword and saving the attachments using the Save Attachment keyword. Robot example here:

1 Like