Things are better when they’re organized. That’s why you should keep your toolbox and spice rack organized, why you match your socks and sort your mail. That’s why we have folders and other tools on our computers to keep our content in line, and easy to find in the future. However, it’s generally up to us to manually organize our things, from tools to digital files, into the order we want.
SortMyBox is a simple web app for Dropbox that automatically sorts your folder based on the rules you setup, using a very simple “when this, do that” format. In the app, you specify what in the file’s name or extension to detect, then create a rule to send those files to the folder you want, with the app checking every 15 minutes for new files to sort. It couldn’t be much simpler.
The setup process pretty much consists only of logging into your Dropbox account and connecting to SortMyBox with Dropbox’s OAuth system. Once you’ve done that, SortMyBox will create a folder inside your Dropbox account named “SortMyBox”. This will be the location in which you drop your files for sorting.
SortMyBox will need access to your whole Dropbox account to be able to sort files into folders, but they promise to encrypt your data and never store your files.
When it’s time to create your first rule, you simply need to navigate to the SortMyBox website and get creating. You can setup rules that identify a file’s extension, name contents or a name pattern. The first method, by using the file extension, allows you to input an extension, or comma separated list of extensions, to filter files by. The second allows you to sort by a word in the name, while the latter allows you to create a pattern in the name to filter by, with or without an extension (such as “May 2012 *.docx”).
You can keep adding new rules with relative ease, achievable by simply hitting the white “New Rule” button in the lower-right side of your table of rules. Likewise, hitting a red “Delete” button obviously deletes the rule from being used in future sorting.
When you’ve setup the rules you want or otherwise updated the list, you’ll need to hit the large, blue “Save & Run Rules” button to run a sorting action and keep it as a template for future, automatic ones. SortMyBox will automatically apply the rules to your SortMyBox folder ever fifteen minutes, so there’s no need to come back and hit the blue button each time.
When I tried out the rule you see in the screenshot, it did indeed work, picking up the use of “Plans” in the document title, and relocating it to my “Envato” folder.
Living with SortMyBox
SortMyBox will record all the actions it influences, and will present a list under the “Recent Activity” heading on it’s website. Therefore, you can very easily see what the app’s being doing on your behalf, and even perhaps track down a file that was wrongly sorted or that you’ve otherwise lost. SortMyBox even lists the time the action was taken, which can be helpful.
If you wish to push the metaphorical “Emergency Stop” button and stop SortMyBox from sorting your Dropbox folder, you can head into the settings and easily disable it too. The settings page also lists interesting statistics, like total file moves and the time of the last action.
SortMyBox is very intuitive and straightforward. Its front end is built with Twitter’s Bootstrap framework, so everything looks great too. Obviously, you aren’t going to be spending too much time in the SortMyBox UI since it’s probably something you’ll setup and leave, but it doesn’t harm anyone to at least look good when people do use it, does it?
SortMyBox is a fantastic service that makes automating the sorting and organization of your Dropbox account a breeze. Wrapped in a simple, straightforward and easy to use interface is an incredibly handy app that becomes really useful if you’re working with a lot of files.
You can even use this app in conjunction with generic naming conventions to pickup, say, photos taken on a camera, or screenshots (at least, under Mac OS X’s default nomenclature), by learning how the system automatically names files and creating rules with them. The service is pretty versatile for this, and can be used conveniently in a great number of contexts.
Add to this the lack of any need for payment and you can only offer praise to the developers. If it interests you, SortMyBox is even open source, BSD licensed, so it’s possible to run it on your own instant of Google AppEngine, as their FAQ page discusses, which is awesome.