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Emailing files into Xero and more

Posted 5 years ago in by Andrew Tokeley
Posted by Andrew Tokeley

Today’s big news is our payroll launch in US but there are plenty of other things to talk about too.

First up, Craig Walker, our highly productive CTO, and his growing team in New York, have been busy enhancing Files.

Emailing files into Xero

You’ll notice a funky looking email address displayed on your Files inbox. This is unique to your organisation and any attachments you send to this address will automatically appear in your Files inbox.


Take a photo from your webcam

For Firefox and Chrome users with a webcam, you can now take a snapshot from your camera and have this added as an image to any of your Files folders. Inspired by a request on community and a challenge from his wife Catherine that she didn’t think he could do it (red flag to a bull), Craig knocked this out over a rainy weekend. Pretty cool and is, in fact, a very quick way to record document images quickly without having to take a scan or send an email.

Take a photo and email the file into Xero

Following on from the first release of purchase orders last month we’ve added the most popular request from all the feedback we received.

Search for purchase order delivery address by contact

Simply click on the Search by Contact option and select from one of your contact’s addresses.

Search contacts in Xero for a delivery address

We’ve also been able to tick off our 4th most voted for feature request!

Multiple email addresses on a contact

On each contact record you can add up to five additional people and their email addresses. You select whether to add each email to the recipient list on any outgoing Xero emails.

Multiple email addresses in Xero

But wait, there’s more.

  • Inventory items on cash transactions

  • Improved statement search

  • Reference field on bank transfer transactions

  • More control over check alignment (US)

  • Updated Taxable Payments Annual Report (AU)

Phew! You can read our full release notes in Help.

Plenty of other goodness still being worked on including improved reporting and EC sales and purchase reporting for the UK. More on this over the next month or so.

And one final note, the pricing changes we announced last month will take effect on Monday morning, local time.



Ali Ahmed
December 9, 2013 at 6.22 pm

Hi Adrew,
It would be much helpful if you make some improvements in inventory item, Such that if we click an items and see its history,example when did we purchased it last time ,so that we can track expensive item how frequently we have purchased it.

Anne-Marie Wallis
December 9, 2013 at 6.37 pm

There’s been a lot of changes and I think it would be useful to have a summary.

Also, no offence, but I’m not interested in what you’re doing for your various markets, only what’s relevant to me in the UK.

Final word, up until about 7/8 months ago, we’d been using excel to run our accounts when someone suggested Xero.

Convincing my husband to switch to Xero and join the 21st century was very challenging, as he’s old school and a bit stuck in his ways! But we did it and haven’t looked back. Only yesterday hubbie said it’s so much easier to do accounts now and thanked me. Hopefully those thanks will translate into a nice Christmas present!

December 9, 2013 at 7.07 pm

Awesome work team! Thanks for making boring stuff fun and easier!

December 9, 2013 at 8.58 pm

Great to see the Xero team continue to invest back into the system, well done guys 🙂 But have to say, really disappointed that the focus is on these enhancements when the basic functionality still remains unavailable, such as automatic receipts once a bill is fully paid. It’s a real problem and a shame that we have to use another package to generate this,

Chris Dixon
December 9, 2013 at 9.46 pm

Nice work on files but …… I still can’t just drag a file from an Outlook email message! This would be a great time saver as the forward option is still a bit clunky when you get emails for different organisations and have to carefully select/enter the inbox email address. What’s the problem with getting drag & drop fixed?

Brett Precious
December 9, 2013 at 9.55 pm

All awesome feature but still wanting the updating of prices in the inventory to push through to repeating invoices.. This will be a massive step forward.. Im sure for everyone, i cant think of why this wouldnt be needed..

George Machan
December 9, 2013 at 10.07 pm

Many thanks to Andrew and his team.

Jeff N
December 9, 2013 at 10.53 pm

A list of email contacts, long overdue. Now all we have to do from a list of email addresses is remember what each person does in the contact organisation.

Did it not occur to you to put the job title and direct telephone number in as well?

Who advises you when you make these changes? or did you just wan to stuff it with as many quick updates as possible to justify the price increase which has been applied today, and which you gave your customers less than a month’s notice of?

Ray Baxter
December 9, 2013 at 11.26 pm

Good to see progress although the December improvements are not relevant to my Practice. I have a lot of Clients who are QuickBooks users who I would like to move to Xero but the functionality is not yet there. Customer sales reporting, repeating transactions, and purchase invoices with the previously used coding applied automatically are just some examples. Being able to amend a sales invoice after payments were applied would save a vast amount of time when processing retail sales where the amount banked differs from the “till” entry. Also providing a running balance on an account report and a possibility of reconciling non-bank accounts would be excellent. All of these would save our time when dealing with small Clients bookkeeping.

December 9, 2013 at 11.33 pm

Any plans on expanding full payroll functionality to global users?

December 9, 2013 at 11.47 pm

Could someone please explain the point of the webcam feature – why do we want to take photos of ourselves or invoices? Is the photo of an invoice better quality than a scan?

December 10, 2013 at 2.12 am

Well Ok…..I was a bit grumpy yesterday because I am so behind on my accounting and found out that there was another update. Reading through the changes, it looks like it was worth the minor inconvenience that seemed major at the time! Keep up the good work!!

Derek Draper
December 10, 2013 at 2.55 am

The Xero Files update may be more exciting to me then the US Payroll release today. The addition of email functionality and the using a webcam for document scanning is brilliant! Great job Xero team!

Paul Frost
December 10, 2013 at 4.10 am

9 December 2013 #

Xero how about a comment in reply to jeffs post?

“We can take a picture and add it to our accounting system but don’t even have basic inventory functionality. Seems priorities are skewed to the pretty end of the requirements list.”

Stock control should be a priority or I will have to go else where!

Craig Walker Xero
December 10, 2013 at 4.42 am

@Chris Dixon I’ve spent quite a bit of time on this. Unfortunately this just isn’t possible because of the way Outlook works. What you’re actually dragging isn’t necessarily a file (as far as the drop event is concerned). If you can figure out how to do it then please let me know.

@Kerryg If you don’t have a scanner then it’s potentially useful for that. When we add Files functionality into Payroll (coming soon) then it could be useful for taking a photo of the employee for use across the organization. Lots of uses – but really just a bit of fun.

@Jeff @Paul As stated above, this really was a bit of fun I built on a Sunday afternoon at home. Sometimes we do stuff like that and it never sees the light of day – but this time I thought “why not?!”. You can’t equate “basic inventory functionality” with the ability to take a picture with your webcam, but please don’t think that one precludes the other. I understand your frustration and trust me when I say that inventory is absolutely a priority for us as well.


December 10, 2013 at 4.49 am

Multicurrency expense it still missing which very important to companies operate globally. Does Xero expect only local small bussiness to be their customers.

I think this feature really need priority.

December 10, 2013 at 5.09 am

So do you think you will come up with a offline system one day,where we can still use xero, while your updates are happening, as it is very frustrating in New Zealand when it is our busiest time to use Xero?

December 10, 2013 at 6.07 am

Xero is really great – thanks for all the work!
One problem I still have is:

For some large coporations we work for different departments within the company. Most of the time this means there a different invoice recipients for one client:

For example:

INV. 1
ABC Ltd.
Dept. MA/SC-253
attn: John Doe
ABC-Street 1, 10000 Berlin

INV 2.
ABC Ltd.
Dept. DB/AG-157
attn: Jane Doe
ABC-Street 1, 10000 Berlin

I don’t think this is very uncomon (?)

Right now we’re working around this by switching contact person and contact/company.
This has a major disadavantage though: In the reports we can’t see how much income ABC Ltd. generates (despite having them in a contact group).

What would help is:
Beeing able to have several contact persons including their individual company adresses/-details under one company and beeing able to choose from there who to write an invoice to.

Another thing what really would be helpful: a few more reference fields for invoices (they could be named “reference #1”, “reference#2” etc.) – e. g. for client’s PO numbers, delivery dates/-periods.
And/or a free text field as you have in purchase orders.

December 10, 2013 at 7.06 am

I am quite excited about these new updates and that full payroll is coming to a portion of North America.

What would be incredibly helpful for us in Canada is to have the ability to print payables cheques from Xero instead of a two step process – enter the payment in Xero and hand write the cheque.You have been able to do it for the US, there is little difference in the formatting of Canadian cheques as they follow the same standard. Now that would be an excellent rainy afternoon project that saves users hours of time each week.

Jacob Komar
December 10, 2013 at 9.37 am

Will payroll be coming to Canada?

Will you guys be updating the assets functionality soon (being able to depreciate by year (ie. In Canada we can depreciate 50% even if bought the day before the end of the financial year)). I was told this was coming in 2013 and still haven’t seen any improvements.

December 10, 2013 at 9.58 am

Good update. The direct email of files saves us a couple of steps when filing receipts that arrive through email – excellent. It is great to see US payroll supported. So … is Canadian payroll support coming next?

December 10, 2013 at 10.08 am

I agree with Alex – we get a lot of invoices as text in an email and currently we have to save as text, then as pdf.

December 10, 2013 at 10.13 am


Glen Barnes
December 10, 2013 at 10.56 am

It is good to get the files stuff released but there are a few issues:

***”Files” are not “Settings”***

It seems you couldn’t work out where to put them so you just dumped them under a settings menu?

I’m not sure where the best place is but it is not under settings.

***Can’t send HTML invoices***

When you pay for something with PayPal and a bunch of other services they send you a receipt as an HTML email. So to get this into Xero I need to:

* Print the receipt as a PDF
* Email the PDF to Xero
* Link this to an invoice

I should just be able to forward to Xero and link to an invoice.

***Can’t link to existing invoice from inbox***

When you are in your inbox you can only create new bills,etc. and not link to an existing one. You have to go to the bill purchase and upload it there. You should be able to attach a file to an existing line item from within the inbox.

December 10, 2013 at 12.25 pm

Love the email docs. Have already set up a rule in apple mail to forward invoices…determined next financial year my filing will be in the cloud instead of in a pile on my desk. So….how can I get an emailed invoice to become an entered bill….or at least able to be sent straight to a file folder so I can easily check which ones are entered??

Kathleen Riches
December 10, 2013 at 12.31 pm

I see comments and agree with on-charging (or what I call reimbursable expenses) so purchases expenses can be bought into a sales invoice. Im also used to job numbers to link work. Apart from that, I’m liking Xero a lot. Thx

December 10, 2013 at 1.11 pm

Actually, have now tried this out – invoice arrives in inbox and after I add it to a new bill, it’s gone! Sooooo good. Won’t miss any bills to enter. Won’t need any printer cartridge to do it! Yay xero.

Nickie Sheehan
December 10, 2013 at 1.41 pm

Yet more fantastic features… love, love, love the added file functionality. Thanks @Craig Walker.

December 10, 2013 at 6.12 pm

Can’t close the the file once it is open and I have to shut down Xero all together???

Mike Block CPA
December 10, 2013 at 8.03 pm

Now when do we get this in WorkflowMax – Practice Manager?

Kate Fargher
December 11, 2013 at 12.02 am

Very happy about the multiple email contacts for an entity – thanks very much.
Are there any plans to improve VAT reconciling and process? I still feel it is very much fingers crossed that I’m submitting the correct figures on a VAT return (UK).
Thanks for your efforts and for listening to us.

December 11, 2013 at 2.47 am

All great but none of it particularly useful, just ‘handy’. I was eagerly looking for multi currency import of bills, but alas nothing despite this being on forums demanded for a very long time and a huge time saver. Right now for us multi currency people all sales are imported as one currency and have to be individually approved and then reconciled. Why can’t it be imported using the xe currency default on the day to convert and then reconciled in mass accordingly where the amounts are within a tolerance. I’ll keep waiting.

Payroll for UK would also be great, why only US?

Craig Walker Xero
December 11, 2013 at 3.14 am

@Alex @Vivienne @Glen Totally understand this (I’m in the same boat). I’m just trying to figure out the best way to approach this. Is it to make the email a “File”? Or is it to parse the email contents into an HTML or RTF document and allow you to attach that? Thoughts?

@Glen 1. We know 🙂 There is an updated header coming in the next release that takes care of that (we needed somewhere to put it in the interim). 2. As above. 3. You can go to the bill directly and choose “Attach from File Library” and select the file there. You don’t have to upload it again.

@Kris Not sure what you mean – when it arrives in your Xero Inbox you can create a new invoice or bill or whatever from there and it will automatically attach it (and remove it from the Inbox). Are you wanting to email direct to a bill? That may come. I’m also playing with having an email address per folder (will look something like – that way you can email directly to a folder rather than just into the Inbox. Would that help?

@Luci Is this related to something to Xero Files?

Jason M. Blumer, CPA.CITP
December 11, 2013 at 3.42 am

Yo, this rocks. You just disrupted accounting software (again!). This will change our client’s work flows for the better, I think!.

Now – on to the US Reporting features (what’s taking you so long Craig?) : )

Glen Barnes
December 11, 2013 at 11.26 am

@craig: re “3. You can go to the bill directly and choose “Attach from File Library” and select the file there. You don’t have to upload it again.”

I know but this workflow is broken. You should be able to attach a file from the library directly from your files inbox. Currently you have to go to the bill itself and attach from there. There should be an “Add to existing..” –

Good to hear the others are being fixed. This will wave heaps of time…Now if you can only create bills automatically with the right amounts that would be ace…

Tony - cool accounting guy
December 11, 2013 at 2.38 pm

Multiple contact e-mail addresses was a welcome enhancement; nice job. And the ability to e-mail directly into Files is just cool. Great job Xero development team!

December 11, 2013 at 3.43 pm

A chrome/FF plugin would be ideal to capture the screenshots, then I don’t need to always be logged in to Xero to get the file in there from a screenshot.

my 2c

December 12, 2013 at 2.21 am

Multiple contact emails is a very grateful addition – sadly we do not seem to make this work, although we have double checked and followed the guidelines in the ‘help’ section.


Paul Frost
December 12, 2013 at 5.56 am

“I understand your frustration and trust me when I say that inventory is absolutely a priority for us as well.”

What’s the timescale?

December 12, 2013 at 2.34 pm

What Glen said in jest actually! @Craig, are you planning to be able to auto-create purchase invoices in Xero based on added files? I’m guessing for some suppliers with consistent invoice formats that should be achievable? That would be amazing!

Andrew Tokeley
December 13, 2013 at 8.47 am

@Ali – there have been a some reports this by others and we are looking into it. It appears that in some cases, if you only add/update additional people then nothing will get saved. The work-around is to change some other information on the contact record before saving (then undo the change after) – we’ll fix this as soon as we can. Hopefully this will ease the frustration!

December 17, 2013 at 9.51 am

Some previous comments mentioned that we can email an attachment to Xero files but not the body of the email. I had the same thought and came up with one idea. Using Outlook 2010, go to the File tab -> Respond -> More -> Forward as attachment. It works, but saves it as an email file it does not convert to a .pdf or anything like that.

December 17, 2013 at 4.52 pm

@Andrew, sorry about the delayed reply, but here it is:

So for this scenario, we’d want to select the appropriate contact at the time of creating/editing the invoice.

I’m thinking that given the customised DOCX template is only made to handle one contact field, how about providing a drop-down list of the available contacts for the organisation at the time of creating/editing the invoice and then you simply aren’t able to select more than one contact/email; you have to choose one from those you’ve entered. Do you think that would resolve the issue? I may be overlooking another use-case.

December 18, 2013 at 11.39 am

I started using this properly for the first time tonight.

It’s great.

However I think there is room to improve the UI, unless I am doing something wrong. I email in a purchase invoice, and would like to be able to see the preview while I type out the data on the Xero bill page. I can’t see both the preview and the bill form at the same time without downloading the image again or going back to the original email or document.

Secondly, I receive invoices from people as .doc files which don’t seem to show up in the preview, though I can download the invoice. (Private individuals really do use .doc!)

Andrew Tokeley
December 18, 2013 at 11.56 am

@Nigel – glad you like it!

I just tried and you can preview the attached file (as long as it’s one we support previewing) and fill out the bill at the same time. You may need to move the previewer around a bit but it was designed with that in mind.

We are looking to extend the list of file types we can preview – DOCX is in our sights 🙂

Trevor Gehman
December 19, 2013 at 6.24 am

@Andrew – Unfortunately emailing in a receipt that comes as HTML in the email body doesn’t show up in Xero’s Files. I assume because it needs to be a PDF attachment. However, 90% of the receipts I receive are not this way… which means I need to print and upload them, which is time-consuming.

With Shoeboxed, I simply forward the email and it is converted into a PDF for me in there system. I would like the ability for this as well. Alternatively, make a Google Apps plugin marked “Send to Xero Files” that adds a button under an email, similar to what CapsuleCRM does.

Andrew Tokeley
December 19, 2013 at 11.48 am

@Trevor – yeah, there’s more work we can do here. At the moment, embedded images are sometimes picked up, but as you’ve seen it’s not guaranteed. One of the challenges is that some emails will have a number of irrelevant images (logos, signatures etc) which we don’t want to pick up. Thanks for the feedback.

December 20, 2013 at 12.09 pm

@ Mike Erder 9 Dec – I agree completely. The obvious thing to do is have a company/organisation name as a field for each contact. i.e. have 3 fields, First name, Last name, organisation (plus all the other info). Then when we go to send an email if we type in an organisation name the system suggests all the people with that organisation’s name in the organisation field of their individual contact profiles. That way each person can have a profile with all their info, not just name and email address and there does not have to be a 5 person limit. In database jargon it would be a “many to one” relationship. Like you say that is surely a simple thing to do in a couple of lines of SQL script.
Not sure why Xero decided to implement the extra addresses this way, there may be a reason why. But like so many other Xero ideas this seems to have been designed by people in marketing and advertising not by database engineers or accountants.

Antony Daamen
December 21, 2013 at 11.57 pm

I like to be able to add one file to multiple posts.
For example: One photo has 4 times cash fees (fee paid by runners) for 4 weeks.
So I enter 4 different amounts (as there are four deposits in the bank)
I like to add the one file to these four accounts

December 24, 2013 at 7.33 am

@Andrew – Ooh – you are right. You can view the receipt as you enter the bill. The workflow is a little backwards if you start from the files screen though. What would work for me is ‘Create a new bill from this receipt’ which then shows me the Bill entry grid with the attachment showing. Otherwise I have to click to open it again.

Also, please can we have a gallery view of receipts? Otherwise I have a list of files all called ‘invoice.pdf’ (not to mention image.jpg and twitter.jpgs etc!)

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