Not long ago we ran a giveaway including four very popular web apps with the entry requirement of letting us know what apps you would like to see in future giveaways. Of the many apps requested, Dropbox was, by far, the most requested. When inquiring about people’s favorite internet integrated apps, not surprisingly Dropbox is a huge leader.
Dropbox seems to be one of the most popular apps among our readers and many others around the web, so we contacted the Dropbox team and they’ve generously offered $100 in credit to be given away to one lucky reader. In addition to a $100 in Dropbox credit, we bring you 15 tips and tricks for making the most of this killer web app!
Read on for giveaway details and great Dropbox tips and tricks.
If you’re not familiar with Dropbox, let me first start out by saying you’ve been missing out. There is a large number of web professionals and every day computer users that use Dropbox as a staple in their daily app consumption. Although there are other apps out there that do the same thing, Dropbox keeps the bar high for other apps to strive for — the point being that Dropbox set the bar.
So, if you’re not familiar with Dropbox, do yourself a favor and read our review, Extend the Web with Dropbox. Keep in mind that Dropbox has made several upgrades since that review, so the app is even better!
Tips and Tricks
There are a multitude of ways to use Dropbox and a plethora of tricks to make your daily computing easier. Not long ago we brought you 5 Creative Uses for Dropbox; a fantastic place to start. The article shows the following.
- How to share photo galleries.
- How to consolidate your iTunes library.
- How to synchronize your password apps.
- How to create your own digital scrapbook.
- How to keep your Firefox profile in sync.
Those tips are a great place to start but Dropbox has so much more under its hood, so let’s take a look!
Use Dropbox As Your Documents Folder
A simple “trick” but a great one for sure. Many people use their documents folder to store and access some of their most frequently used files, often times the most important too. Many friends and family seem to miss this directory during backups — somehow. Setting your Documents directory to be located in your Dropbox directory will keep all your files safe and secure, not to mention synchronized with other computers you may use frequently.
To do this in OS X, open Terminal and navigate to your Dropbox directory (Type: cd Dropbox ). You’ll now need to create a symbolic link to your Documents directory (Type: ln -s ~/Documents/ Documents ). That’s it! You’re done! You can see in the screenshot below, a new “directory” appears with a black arrow on the icon. This is to indicate that it is a symbolic link, which we’ve set to point to your Documents directory. Dropbox will now begin synchronizing the files within that directory.
In Windows Vista or Windows 7, right click on your “My Documents” folder and select the Location tab. Next, click Move… and proceed to selecting the location of your Dropbox directory. Simple!
Sync Your iTunes Library Across Multiple Computers
As both an iTunes user and someone who uses multiple computers, it’s frustrating to keep multiple systems (such as a laptop and desktop) with the same iTunes library. Dropbox makes easy work of that though. Start by moving your iTunes library to a folder within your Dropbox directory.
Next, start iTunes holding shift (Win) or option (Mac), which will force iTunes to let you create or choose a library. Select Choose Library… and proceed to selecting the location of your library (now located within your Dropbox directory).
If you have a large iTunes library you’ll likely need a larger Dropbox subscription plan.
If you’re worried about your computer being stolen, you can easily use Dropbox to perform silent reconnaissance in the even it is stolen. You’ll then have a greater chance of retrieving your stolen computer.
To do this you’ll need to install a keylogger and/or screenshot applications and set the applications to log the data they collect to your Dropbox directory. If your computer is stolen then you’ll be able to monitor every key they push and even collect screenshots of whatever they might be doing. This would greatly increase the chances of recovering your computer.
You could alternately setup a security application that would use the computer’s web camera to intermittently capture pictures, storing them in your Dropbox directory. You would then get a mugshot of your computer’s thief!
Taking the last tip a step further, you could install web cameras around your home or office and have them set to capture images at your desired intervals. Set those images to be stored in your Dropbox directory so you can quickly see if anything is happening.
I have an app setup that uses my computer’s web camera to detect motion; once it does it will begin taking snapshots which are stored in my Dropbox directory. My phone is notified that my computer has detected motion and I can quickly view the new snapshots and notify the police if necessary.
It’s certainly a cheaper alternative than expensive security systems that do the same thing!
Website/File Hosting and Sharing
If you’re a web designer, you might really appreciate this one. Using Dropbox, you can easily share images and other files with its public URL feature. But, you can also share full websites (in flat HTML/CSS) for purposes such as client proofing or maybe just showing of your new project.
PHP Dropbox Uploader
So, you store your files on your Dropbox but many other people you know might not be using Dropbox yet still want to send you files somehow. With the PHP Dropbox Uploader you can add a file upload form to your website to allow your visitors to upload files directly to your Dropbox account.
Multiple Dropbox Instances
You might already be using Dropbox for personal use but maybe you need another instance of Dropbox to access another account for some reason. Maybe one for work and one for personal?
- Multiple Dropbox Instances on UNIX Systems (Linux or OS X)
- Using Dropboxen for Multiple Dropbox Instances on Windows Systems
Making Dropbox Portable
If you’re not always on the same computer while you’re at school, work or elsewhere (maybe a coffee shop?), you could access Dropbox’s web interface — or you could just install DropboxPortable on your USB flash drive. Once you pop your flash drive into a computer your files will be synced. Access your files as necessary and the changes will be synced for access again elsewhere. Just be sure your files have finished syncing before unplugging the flash drive.
Sync Your iCal Calendar
You could pay $99 per year for a MobileMe account, or you could just use Dropbox to sync your iCal Calendar just as easily.
From your primary computer you’ll need to open Terminal and enter the following, which will move your iCal Calendars folder into your Dropbox folder.
mv ~/Library/Calendars ~/Dropbox/
Next you’ll need to tell iCal where to look for the calendars using the following, which creates a symbolic link to your calendars (on Dropbox) for iCal to access.
ln -s ~/Dropbox/Calendars/ ~/Library/Calendars
All that’s left to do is setup any additional computers to access the calendars now stored on Dropbox. To do so, simply enter the above line on your other Macs, again creating symbolic links for iCal to access your calendars.
Dropbox needs to be running on all the computers you want to sync iCal with.
Using Dropbox & Eye-Fi for Instant Image Viewing
You might’ve heard of Eye-Fi memory cards with built in Wi-Fi that allow you to snap pictures and have them automatically uploaded to your computer — directly from your camera. You can set your Eye-Fi upload directory on your computer to be located within your Dropbox directory, which would then allow you to snap pictures with your camera and immediately view them on your mobile phone or computer.
$100 Dropbox Credit Giveaway
The Dropbox team is being generous enough to give away $100 of credit to one lucky Web.AppStorm reader! To enter, simply leave a comment with your favorite tip, trick or hack you use with Dropbox (doesn’t have to be listed here). This coming Friday, June 18th, we will randomly select the winner. The winner will be notified shortly after publishing the giveaway winner announcement.
Please Note: Envato staff or people who have written more than two articles or tutorials for Web.AppStorm.net are ineligible to enter.
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