Send email from Google Sheets based on a schedule

If you've worked in any organization of any size, you've probably had to put together and send reports on a regular basis to your team. In this post, I'll show you how to automate sending emails from Google Sheets based on a schedule.

We'll build a stock price report that's emailed to us every morning from a Google Sheet. When we finish building it, the email report will look like this:

Prerequisites

  • You're familiar with basic coding concepts. Ideally, you've used JavaScript or Google Apps Script before (they're both based on ECMAScript). If you're not familiar, I've created an introduction to apps script series that you can refer to.

  • You're familiar with Google Sheets and basic concepts such as using functions.

Create a Google Sheet containing data for the report

The first step is to create a Google Sheet and enter information about the stocks you want to track. Create a table with three columns in a sheet named "Data". The three columns are for each company's name, ticker symbol and stock price.

Create a Named Range for this data to make it easy to access it from a script.

Enter a name for the range. I named it "Stocks".

Create an apps script to read data from the Google sheet and email it

We'll implement this functionality using three functions:

  • A getData() function will read the data from the Google sheet and will convert it into an array of objects.

  • A getEmailText() function will take this array of objects as input and will return the email message to be sent.

  • A sendEmail() function will use the above two functions to create and send the email message.

Create the getData() function to read data from the Google sheet and convert it into an array of objects

Create an apps script by selecting Tools → Script editor.

You should see a code editor like this:

Enter the following code in the editor.

/**
 * @OnlyCurrentDoc
 */
function getData() {
  var values = SpreadsheetApp.getActive().getSheetByName("Data").getRange("Stocks").getValues();
  values.shift(); //remove headers
  var stocks = [];
  values.forEach(function(value) {
    var stock = {};
    stock.name = value[0];
    stock.ticker = value[1];
    stock.price = value[2];
    stocks.push(stock);
  })
  Logger.log(JSON.stringify(stocks));
  return stocks;
}

Run the code by clicking the play icon.

Google will ask you to authorize the script to access the data in your spreadsheet. Once you authorize it, the script will run. When it runs, you won't see any changes - it'll be like nothing happened. So what exactly does the script do? Let me explain the script line by line.

The function getData() reads the data in the spreadsheet and converts it into an array of objects. This representation makes it easier to work with the data.

Name Ticker Price
Microsoft MSFT 145.96
Apple AAPL 260.14
Tesla TSLA 337.14
Walmart WMT 119.44
McDonald's MCD 193.61

The function getData() converts the above table into the data structure below.

[
  {
    "name": "Microsoft",
    "ticker": "MSFT",
    "price": 145.96
  },
  {
    "name": "Apple",
    "ticker": "AAPL",
    "price": 260.14
  },
  {
    "name": "Tesla",
    "ticker": "TSLA",
    "price": 337.14
  },
  {
    "name": "Walmart",
    "ticker": "WMT",
    "price": 119.44
  },
  {
    "name": "McDonald's",
    "ticker": "MCD",
    "price": 193.61
  }
]

The function then logs this data structure before returning it. You can view the logs by selecting View → Logs OR by pressing CTRL + ENTER.

Create the getEmailText() function to generate the body of the email

The getEmailText() function takes the output of the getData() function as input and returns a string containing the body of the email.

function getEmailText(stockData) {
  var text = "";
  stockData.forEach(function(stock) {
    text = text + stock.name + "\n" + stock.ticker + "\n" + stock.price + "\n-----------------------\n\n";
  });
  return text;
}

Create and send the email message

Finally, we'll create and send the email message using the email copy that the getEmailText() function returned.

function sendEmail() {
  var stockData = getData();
  var body = getEmailText(stockData);
  
  MailApp.sendEmail({
    to: "youremail@example.com",
    subject: "Stock update"
    body: body
  });
}

Putting it all together

The full script should look like the following:

function sendEmail() {
  var stockData = getData();
  var body = getEmailText(stockData);
  
  MailApp.sendEmail({
    to: "youremail@example.com",
    subject: "Stock update",
    body: body
  });
}

function getEmailText(stockData) {
  var text = "";
  stockData.forEach(function(stock) {
    text = text + stock.name + "\n" + stock.ticker + "\n" + stock.price + "\n-----------------------\n\n";
  });
  return text;
}

/**
 * @OnlyCurrentDoc
 */
function getData() {
  var values = SpreadsheetApp.getActive().getSheetByName("Data").getRange("Stocks").getValues();
  values.shift(); //remove headers
  var stocks = [];
  values.forEach(function(value) {
    var stock = {};
    stock.name = value[0];
    stock.ticker = value[1];
    stock.price = value[2];
    stocks.push(stock);
  })
  //Logger.log(JSON.stringify(stocks));
  return stocks;
}

Now try running the sendEmail() function. You should receive an email like the one below.

Make the script run every morning

The final step is to automate sending this email every morning so you can keep a tab on the latest stock prices right from your email inbox.

Click on the clock icon to set up a trigger. A trigger is used to run scripts on your behalf. They can be configured to run on specific days or specific times of the day etc. You can also configure the trigger to run your script whenever a change is made to your Google Sheet.

Click the Add trigger button to get started.

The next step is to configure the trigger. There are a bunch of options so let me explain what they are.

  • Choose the function in your apps script that the trigger should run. Instead of you manually running this function, the trigger will run it for you on your behalf. We will pick the sendEmail() function.

  • Always pick Head for the deployment that should be run. When you build more complex applications, you'll learn more about when not to use the Head deployment.

  • Set the event source to be Time-driven. This is because we want the report to be emailed every morning (ie, it is time based). You can also set up triggers that are event based. For example, you can send an email when changes are made in the sheet.

  • There are various ways to set up a Time-driven trigger. You can have a trigger run every hour, only on specific days of the month etc. In this case, we'll choose a Day timer since we want the trigger to run the sendEmail function every morning.

  • Finally, we'd like the email to be in our inbox before 7am so pick 6am to 7am as the time of the day.

  • That's it! Click Save to set up the trigger.

Once you click Save, the trigger will be created.

This trigger will run every morning between 6am and 7am. It will run the sendEmail() function on your behalf and you'll get an email report every morning.

Summary

In this post, we built a Stock Watcher application and we also learned how to send email from Google Sheets based on a schedule. In the next post, we'll learn how to make the email look nice using HTML. The email below looks a lot better doesn't it? Read the tutorial on sending HTML email from Google Sheets next.

Thanks for reading!


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