OAuth client

In order to use gmailr, you must provide your own OAuth client. The article Set up an OAuth client explains how to obtain an OAuth client and how to configure it for gmailr’s use. The help topics for ?gm_auth_configure and ?gm_default_oauth_client will also be useful.

Unless you have reason to do otherwise, my recommendation is to place the JSON file for your OAuth client in the default location, so that it is discovered automatically. The default location is returned by rappdirs::user_data_dir("gmailr"). Alternatively, you can also make autodiscovery work by exposing the client’s JSON filepath as the GMAILR_OAUTH_CLIENT environment variable. If your client is configured for auto-discovery, your gmailr code should “just work”, without any explicit configuration around the client:


# your gmailr code ...

Otherwise, your code must always include a call to gm_auth_configure(), probably right after you attach gmailr:


# your gmailr code ...


Configuring an OAuth client is step 1 of 2 for getting ready to use gmailr. Step 2 is to complete the so-called “OAuth dance”.

For most folks and especially in early usage, you can just allow the OAuth dance to be triggered automatically upon first need. You are taken to a web browser, where you must select or login as the Google user you want to use (authenticate yourself) and give your OAuth client permission to do Gmail stuff on your behalf (authorize). The OAuth dance does not need to be repeated in subsequent sessions, because, by default, your credentials are cached locally and can be refreshed.

If, however, you want to take more control over auth, you can call gm_auth() explicitly and proactively. The arguments that are most useful in practice are:

Here’s how a script might begin if the OAuth client can’t be auto-discovered and the user needs to request non-default behaviour from gm_auth():


  scopes = "gmail.readonly",
  cache = "some/nice/directory/"

gm_profile() is a handy function to confirm that gmailr is using the intended Google identity.

#> Logged in as:
#>   * email:
#>   * num_messages: 121
#>   * num_threads: 121

Compose and send an email

Create a new email with gm_mime() and then build it up from parts, using helper functions like gm_to() and gm_subject().

test_email <-
  gm_mime() |>
  gm_subject("this is just a gmailr test") |>
  gm_text_body("Can you hear me now?")

You can even add a file attachment with gm_attach_file():

tmp <- tempfile("mtcars-", fileext = ".csv")
write.csv(mtcars, tmp)
test_email <- gm_attach_file(test_email, tmp)

When developing a message, it’s a good idea to first create a draft with gm_create_draft() Then you can visit your Gmail drafts in the browser and confirm that the message content and formatting is as you intend.

d <- gm_create_draft(test_email)

If you’re happy, you can either send that draft with gm_send_draft():

#> Draft Id: 1890aac8acf8f966 

Or you can send the original MIME message with gm_send_message():


Read email

You can retrieve email threads with gm_threads():

my_threads <- gm_threads(num_results = 10)

You can retrieve a specific thread with gm_thread():

# retrieve the latest thread by retrieving the first ID
latest_thread <- gm_thread(gm_id(my_threads)[[1]])

The messages in latest_thread are stored as a list. You can then isolate a specific message and access its parts.

my_msg <- latest_thread$messages[[1]]

#> [1] "Thu, 29 Jun 2023 22:00:27 -0700"
#> [1] "this is just a gmailr test"
#> [[1]]
#> [1] "Can you hear me now?\r\n"

If a message has attachments, you can download them all locally with gm_save_attachments():

tmp2 <- tempfile("attachments-")
gm_save_attachments(my_msg, path = tmp2)

# let's take a peek
tmp2 |> 
  list.files(full.names = TRUE, pattern = "[.]csv$") |> 
  read.csv() |> 
#>                   X  mpg cyl disp  hp drat    wt  qsec vs am gear carb
#> 1         Mazda RX4 21.0   6  160 110 3.90 2.620 16.46  0  1    4    4
#> 2     Mazda RX4 Wag 21.0   6  160 110 3.90 2.875 17.02  0  1    4    4
#> 3        Datsun 710 22.8   4  108  93 3.85 2.320 18.61  1  1    4    1
#> 4    Hornet 4 Drive 21.4   6  258 110 3.08 3.215 19.44  1  0    3    1
#> 5 Hornet Sportabout 18.7   8  360 175 3.15 3.440 17.02  0  0    3    2
#> 6           Valiant 18.1   6  225 105 2.76 3.460 20.22  1  0    3    1


The Gmail API is free to use for modest levels of activity. To learn more about Gmail API quotas see