Kuovonne's Guide to Airtable
Kuovonne's Guide to Airtable
Attachment fields

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Attachment URLS

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Attachment Urls

Each attachment in Airtable has two types of urls that you can use when creating an integration or using an automation.
Expiring Attachment urls. These urls provide public access to the raw attachment, but after a few hours they expire. They can be used in third party integration that only need temporary access to the file. They can be sent in emails to provide temporary access to a file. These urls use the domain name airtableusercontent.com.
Viewer urls. These urls that require uses to be logged in with an account that had access to the base. They cannot be used in third party integrations. They can be emailed to users, but they will only work if the user has access to the base. These urls also do not provide direct access to the raw file. These urls follow the pattern https://airtable.com/baseId/tableId/recordId/fieldId/attachmentID

Legacy dl.airtable.com Urls

Originally each attachment had its own url. The url use the domain name dl.airtable.com. However, these urls had a security issue. The attachments were accessible at those urls, even after the attachment had been deleted. This meant that if anyone got access to an attachment url, they had access to your file and you could never revoke that access. The current system of expiring and viewer urls was designed to close this loophole.
However the old style attachment urls are still in formula fields for backwards compatibility, even though they are invalid. There are existing formulas in existing bases that rely on the existing format. These extract the still-valid filenames. If Airtable took out or changed the invalid url, all of those existing formula fields that relied on that format could break. Even changing the actual url could also potentially start a cascade of automations if there is an automation that watches a formula field. I doubt that there are many such automations, but it is less risky to not change the formula output.
If you have only the legacy dl.airtable.com url for an attachment and need to find the original file, I’m afraid that you are out of luck. Per a post by Airtable employee EvanHahn in this on the Airtable community, the format of these urls have no information that can be used to track back to the original attachment. The full format of these urls is https://dl.airtable.com/.attachment/<long-hash-code>/<short-hash-code>/<filename.ext>. The two hash codes are randomly generated IDs that cannot be converted back to meaningful information.
Thank Kuovonne for creating this content!

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