Escaping from your email

I only download my email once every four hours. Otherwise I check it too much. This works really well and my “need to check” email addiction has totally shut off.

For this to work on your own email, you want to set up a Gmail account with an address that no one knows, as well as access to a cron task scheduler. Cron is an application that runs tasks on a set schedule, so every minute or every year or every Monday at 5pm, etc. If you have Mac or Linux, and you’re the type of person that keeps their computer on 24/7, you can run “cron jobs” from your local machine (you want to edit the /etc/crontab file – here are some instructions). I use my web hosting provider’s cron service, because it will run even when my laptop is shut down.

Here’s the script:

import imaplib
from datetime import datetime
import email
import smtplib
import sys
import os
import random
import base64

def main():
    #check user
    if os.isatty(sys.stdin.fileno()):
        #i'm trying to get my email by cheating, not a cron
        print "Are you sure you want to do this?"
        ans = raw_input()
        if ans != "yes":
        no_of_mults = 3
        for i in range(no_of_mults):
            a = random.randint(1000,9999)
            b = random.randint(1000,9999)
            print "What is " + str(a) + " * " + str(b) + "?"
            ans = float(raw_input())
            if ans != a*b:
                print "Sorry, incorrect answer."

    imap_domain = ""
    imap_port = 993
    imap_username =  base64.b64decode('my_gmail_username_encoded')
    imap_password = base64.b64decode('my_gmail_pass_encoded')

    #smtp settings
    smtp_domain = ""
    smtp_port = 587
    smtp_username = "my_smtp_user"
    smtp_password = "my_smtp_pass"

    email_recipients = [[email protected]']

    imap_server = imaplib.IMAP4_SSL(imap_domain, imap_port)
    imap_server.login(imap_username, imap_password)

    server = smtplib.SMTP(smtp_domain, smtp_port)
    server.login(smtp_username, smtp_password)'INBOX')

    status, email_ids =, '(UNSEEN)')

    recipient = email_recipients

    count = 0
    for e in email_ids[0].split(' '):
        if e is not '':
                raw_msg = imap_server.fetch(e, '(RFC822)')
                msg = email.message_from_string(raw_msg[1][0][1])

                #modify reply-to so we preserve email address
                if not msg['Reply-To']:
                    msg['Reply-To'] = msg['From']

                result = server.sendmail(msg['From'], recipient, msg.as_string())
                count += 1

            except smtplib.SMTPRecipientsRefused, e:
                print "SMTPRecipientRefused" + str(e)
            except Exception, err:
                print err

    # so I can see how many messages were printed
    print "Sent " + str(count) + " messages."
    filename = "/home/kevinburke/webapps/b/sent.txt"
    with open(filename, 'w') as f:


if __name__ == "__main__":

Then in your cron file, you want to add the following line:

0 */4 * * * /usr/bin/python /path/to/email/



is the filepath to wherever you saved the script above. The 0 means run the script at the top of the hour, and the */4 means run it once every 4 hours.

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