In a Microsoft-centric workplace, I use task attachments heavily to store emails, design documents, and the like. Especially with email attachments, I'll usually open up the task's attachment folder (C-c C-a f) and simply drag the relevant emails to the folder (which conveniently also copies all of its attachments :)).

Since Org isn't the one adding attachments, the ATTACH tag is often missing. As I move around attachments and tasks, I'll also move their attachments appropriately, sometimes emptying the folder. This causes ATTACH to become a false-positive.

Is there any way I can synchronize the presence of the ATTACH tag with the presence of actual attachments? As an added bonus, can I also update the :Attachments: property with the appropriate file list? (It helps with searching.)

  • 1
    There's a function org-attach-sync that sounds like it would do what you want. I get an error when I try it. It seems to expect your attachments to be in a git repository.
    – erikstokes
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 1:49
  • @erikstokes Now why on earth would someone make that assumption? :( I'll look into the function, thanks. Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 2:15

2 Answers 2


There is a function org-attach-sync that claims to do this, but it seems to be expecting you to keep your attachments in a git repository, which you may not be doing (I don't).

So, here's a function that uses org-attach-file-list to look at the list of attachments and change things appropriately. The :ATTACH: tag will be toggled and the Attachments property will be updated or deleted.

(defun org-sync-attachments ()
  "Update the current entry's attachment metadata."
  (let* ((attachments (if (org-attach-dir)
                         (org-attach-file-list (org-attach-dir)))
        (tag-state (if attachments 'on 'off)))

    (if attachments 
        (org-set-property org-attach-file-list-property
                          (mapconcat #'url-encode-url
                                     attachments " "))
      (org-delete-property org-attach-file-list-property))
    (org-toggle-tag org-attach-auto-tag tag-state)
  • Works like a charm :) Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 4:21
  • To sync all items in a buffer, it's a simple (defun org-sync-attachments-all () (interactive) (save-excursion (goto-char 0) (while (search-forward-regexp "^\\*" nil t) (*-org-sync-attachments)))) Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 15:02
  • 1
    and a small note -- if your attachments have spaces in the file name, it's better to use #'url-encode-url instead of '#identity. Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 15:08
  • @SeanAllred Good catch on the file names with spaces. That would have bitten me eventually.
    – erikstokes
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 20:55

I figured out an alternative solution:

step 1: list all file attached in the current node

     M-x org-attach-reveal

step 2: in dired window: mark files you want to create link

    In dired window:  
       M-x dired-mark
       M-x org-attach-dired-to-subtree-store-links
The function org-attach-dired-to-subtree-store-links below is almost exactly a copy of org-attach-dired-to-subtree, except that instead of making attachments, it creates links that can be inserted into the Org mode buffer using org-insert-link (usually bound to C-C C-l if you follow the convention in the Org mode manual).

(defun org-attach-dired-to-subtree-store-links (files)
    "run in dired, push all file marked to org link store"
     (list (dired-get-marked-files)))
    (unless (eq major-mode 'dired-mode)
      (user-error "This command must be triggered in a dired buffer"))
    (let ((start-win (selected-window))
            (lambda (window)
              (with-current-buffer (window-buffer window)
                (eq major-mode 'org-mode))))))
      (unless other-win
         "Can't attach to subtree.  No window displaying an Org buffer"))
      (select-window other-win)
      (dolist (file files)
        (let* ((fname (file-name-nondirectory file))
               (link (format "attachment:%s" fname))
               (desc fname))
          (push (list link desc) org-stored-links)))
      (select-window start-win)))

step3: insert link of attachment file (you marked above) into org file

     M-x org-insert-all-links  "insert all links in org-stored-links"

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