Confession: I’m madly in love with Dropbox.
Managing your files across multiple computers used to be accomplished through inefficient means like email and USB drives. No more. Dropbox made these old habits obsolete. The formula was simple: place your file into your Dropbox folder, and the file will be instantly synced across all of your computers.
Beyond syncing, Dropbox also became a valuable backup tool for your most important documents. Also, sharing documents with others became incredibly easy with Dropbox, further plummeting the value of email.
In this post, I share 8 great tips and tricks for you to get the most out of Dropbox.
Before we start…
Have no idea what Dropbox is? No worries. Take a look at this short intro video about Dropbox:
Place your Documents Folder inside Dropbox
How often do you back up the contents of your Documents folder? I’m guessing not that often. With this technique, you can sleep soundly every night knowing that your files are safe from harm.
In Windows Vista or 7, right-click on your Documents folder and select Properties. Go to the Locations tab, click on Move, and select your Dropbox folder. Depending on the size of your Documents folder, it may take a few moments for the files to be moved over. Of course, you can also do the same thing with other folders on your computer as well.
Moving Dropbox Outside of Documents Folder
By default, your Dropbox folder is installed into your Documents folder, unless you specified otherwise during the installation process. To move Dropbox into its own directory, right click on the Dropbox icon in your desktop tray(Bottom-right corner of your screen for Windows) and select Preferences. Click on Moveand select the new location of your Dropbox folder.
For Mac users, you will need to open up Terminal. Navigate to your Dropbox directory first by typing in cd Dropbox. Then, create a symbolic link between the Documents folder and Dropbox by typing ln -s ~/Documents/ Documents. Now, a new Documents directory will appear inside Dropbox which will be synchronized automatically.
Take advantage of version control to keep track of file revisions
If you login to your Dropbox account online, you can access a history of all the changes you’ve made to your Dropbox folder in the last 30 days. For example, if you are editing an important research paper or your website’s stylesheet, Dropbox will record a copy of the document each time you save a new version of the file. Thus, you can easily restore any previous version of your current document. Take a look at a screenshot for an example:
If 30 days isn’t enough, you can purchase an upgrade which will save your file history forever.
Throw away your USB drive
That’s right. It ain’t easy remembering to save important files to your flash drive wherever you go. It’s even harder to remember to bring it with you to work or school. With Dropbox, all you need is internet access on any computer. Sign into your account on the Dropbox website and you’ll be able to access any of your saved files from your browser.
Stop using email to collaborate on projects
It’s a royal pain to send email attachments of documents to others whom you are working with on an important assignment. Dropbox makes it easy by allowing you to share folders via two methods. First, you can place folders into your Public folder where you create a public link for others to access easily.
Second, you can create a shared folder and invite others to use it. Anything that is placed in the shared folder or that is changed inside, will automatically be synced across each sharing member’s computer.
You must access the Dropbox website in order for this to work. Under the Sharing tab, click on Share a Folder. Name the folder whatever you want, and then enter the email addresses of those you want to invite.
Download the Dropbox extension for Google Chrome
With the Dropbox extension for Google Chrome, you can quickly access the contents of your Dropbox folder. In addition, you can view recent changes and instantly open up files.
Sync Any Folder Outside of Dropbox with a Simple Right-Click
When I researched this method, I came across a Dropbox Wiki page explaining how to sync folders outside of your Dropbox. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most user-friendly procedure since it required you to manually create symbolic links yourself. A far simpler alternative is to download the Dropbox Folder Sync app, which does the work for you. All you have to do is right-click on any folder or file and select Sync with Dropbox, and the job is done for you.
Download the latest Beta Version
One of the biggest demands in upcoming versions of Dropbox is selective sync. Luckily, this feature can be made available to you right now by downloading the latest beta version. In addition, sharing became even easier with a simple right-click of any folder.
Access Dropbox With Your Mobile Device
Take your Dropbox on the go with the Dropbox mobile app. Currently, only mobile applications of Dropbox are available for the iPhone, iPad, and Android with a Blackberry app coming soon. The applications allow you to access any of the content stored in your Dropbox folder, save photos and videos you take with your phones to Dropbox, and even share public links to specific files or folders in your Dropbox. However, you cannot edit any file unless you use some other third-party app.
1 more tip! Email files to Dropbox!
Using Send to Dropbox, you can use this application to easily send email attachments to your Dropbox folder at anytime. Some other notable features include automatic archive unzipping, folder organization, and plain text and html message copying.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and download Dropbox on your computer. For more information and the latest updates, head on over to the Dropbox blog. Syncing data, backing up your computer, and sharing documents with others has never been easier!