Once you’ve got Papermerge up and running, you need to start feeding documents into it. Currently, there are four options: upload directly via web user interface, the importer directory, IMAP (email), and the REST API.

Uploading document via web interface won’t be explained here as it is very obvious. Uploading via REST API along with how to register a token is explained in REST API. Here we will focus on importing from a local directory and importing documents from an email account (imap).

The Importer Directory

You can point Papermerge to a specific directory on your local system and worker script will import all documents from that directory. Getting stuff into this directory is up to you. If you’re running Papermerge on your local computer, you might just want to drag and drop files there. Imported documents will land in your superuser’s Inbox folder.

The configuration setting you are looking for is IMPORTER_DIR. It points to the directory where all documents will be imported from. Example: file
IMPORTER_DIR = "/mnt/media/importer_dir"

The IMPORTER_DIR directory pointed must be readable by the Papermerge application.


Notice that IMPORTER_DIR must be defined on the worker side. For single deployments worker and main app will share the same configuration file, thus all configurations will be in same configuration file. In case of distributed deployment - or even in case when the main app and worker run within different docker images - this distinction becomes important. IMPORTER_DIR should be defined in of the host (or docker image) where the worker runs.

All imported documents will land in superuser’s Inbox.


Papermerge is a multi-user system. The very first system user is called superuser. Papermerge must have at least one superuser. Regardless of how many users there are in Papermerge DMS, imported documents will always end up in first superuser’s inbox.

IMAP (Email)

Papermerge can import documents from an email account. This feature is somehow similar to importing documents from a local directory, but instead of a local path you need to provide details about an email account (email account = IMAP account). At very least you need to provide following email importing settings:

  1. IMPORT_MAIL_HOST - IMAP server hostname

  2. IMPORT_MAIL_USER - IMAP username

  3. IMPORT_MAIL_PASS - IMAP password


Email importing settings must be defined on the worker side.

with those three configurations worker will securely connect every 30 seconds to provided IMAP account and check for newly arrived email messages with attachments. By default email attachment’s will end up in your superuser’s Inbox.

One IMAP Account for Many Papermerge Users

Adding all email attachments to your superuser Inbox is absolutely fine when superuser is the one and only user in Papermerge. However, if your Papermerge instance has multiple users, then assigning documents for specific Papermerge user’s Inbox is little tricky. There are couple ways to match incoming emails to specific Papermerge user:

  1. matching by “From” or “To” fields (also called matching “by user”)

  2. matching by special “secret” in email’s subject or email’s body

The following configurations enable/disable respective matching features:

  • IMPORT_MAIL_BY_USER = True | False

  • IMPORT_MAIL_BY_SECRET = True | False

Matching By User

IMPORT_MAIL_BY_USER allows user to send emails from their user-configured email address and have them end up in their inbox. With this option enabled, Papermerge looks up email’s “From” and “To” fields to decide for who those documents are addressed. Document will end up in Papermerge user with same email address as either email’s “From” or email’s “To” field.

Following picture illustrates how matching by user works:

illustration shows how match by user feature works

Figure 1. Decision to which Papermerge inbox assign the document is made based on email’s “From” field. In this example all emails are sent to the same email address but from different senders.


You configure Papermerge with only one IMAP/email account.

Matching By Secret

IMPORT_MAIL_BY_SECRET is yet another way to route email’s attachments to correct Papermerge inbox. It this case a per-user secret in email body or email subject is the decision factor. Secret can be any text. In your email you need to surround it with SECRET{ ... } keyword. Note that keyword SECRET must be all capital-case and there are no spaces between opening curly brackets and word SECRET, however there may be spaces between secret text and surrounding curly brackets. Papermerge looks for SECRET{ ... } in emails subject or emails text body - but NOT in the attachment!

Let’s consider an example: Papermerge user john in preferences enables Email routing by secret option and chooses as secret the one who loves cats and documents. Then any incoming email (in configured IMAP account) with following text (either in subject or in its body):

SECRET{ the one who loves cats and documents }

with be assigned to Papermerge user john.


There are no spaces between keyword SECRET and {

Notice that email matching feature must be enabled:

  1. system wide using IMPORT_MAIL_BY_USER and/or IMPORT_MAIL_BY_SECRET in file

  2. per user - in user preferences menu

If both configurations options IMPORT_MAIL_BY_USER and IMPORT_MAIL_BY_SECRET are set to False users won’t see “Email Routing” configuration their preferences. If at lease one of above mentioned options is enabled users will see “Email Routing” preferences.

user preferences for email routing

Figure 2. User preferences for email routing appear only if one (or both) of IMPORT_MAIL_BY_USER, IMPORT_EMAIL_BY_SECRET is (are) set to True.

email routing preferences per user

Figure 3. Email routing preferences per user. Here user provides secret text without SECRET keyword and without surrounding curly braces.


Note that secret text is always shown (unlike passwords which are hidden from user’s eyes) to users. Also, unlike passwords, secret text for email routing is stored in database as clear text. It is so, because secret text used for email routing and is not used as user credentials of any kind i.e. it doesn’t grant you any privilege; in other words you cannot open any account with that “secret text” information so to speak.

Finally if IMPORT_MAIL_DELETE is set to True then a processed email will be deleted from the mail account.