Minimalistic file-sharing with Min.us

We briefly covered Min.us a few months ago when it was basically a ‘single-purpose’ app: you could upload pictures to instantly create a simple gallery that you could share with anyone. Since then, the app has been under heavy development and now has a boatload of features designed to improve the image-sharing experience and allow for other kinds of files as well.

There’s a lot of new stuff under the hood, so much so that we thought we should take another look at it. Min.us now works not just as a web app, but also as an app for desktop and mobile platforms. The galleries and editing options have been streamlined and several issues have been ironed out, making for a smoother user experience. Let’s delve deeper now, shall we?

Overview

For those who haven’t come across Min.us before, think of it as an instant gallery creator to display your files for others to see. You can share design mock-ups with a client, show pictures of your new house to friends and family, or even send your band mate a few quick demo recordings for feedback. The app differentiates itself by way of its minimalist approach in its user interface: plenty of white space, sparse text and simple icons make for a great way to let your files be seen and heard effectively. Min.us allows for sharing of files up to 50 MB each and is thus most suitable for images, music and documents. In effect, it’s an elegant way to showcase your files and allow your recipients to preview them.

Min.us homepage

Min.us homepage

Getting started

Sign-up is optional and requires just a username and password – you can also give your email address if you have to retrieve your password later. Registration allows you to view the galleries you’ve created in one place, upload files up to 50 Mb in size, edit them at any time, and always find the links to share them again later. Registered users can also follow other users and see their galleries in a timeline, similar to the dashboard on Tumblr.

Using Min.us

Once you’ve logged in, you can get started right away – just drag and drop some files on to the page if you’re using a modern browser and, voilà, you’ve got an instant new gallery! Files can be of any type, up to 50 MB in size (10 MB per file for unregistered users). Images are resized to fit the display area, audio and video files come with players to play back with (MP3, FLV, MP4 all work fine), plain text files can be read in a monospaced font, PDFs are represented by the first page of the file, and other files are represented by simple file type icons. Aside from viewing files in a carousel, you can view them as a grid by clicking the view buttons at the bottom right corner of each gallery.

Timeline (displayed on login)

Timeline (displayed on login)

You’ll notice that your files are displayed in the center of the page while a sidebar sits on the right. This lists the gallery name (which you can change) along with all the uploaded files and includes the link to the gallery, with buttons to edit the URL and to copy it to your clipboard. There are also sharing options (Facebook, Twitter and Google+). You can even download all files together as a zip file.

A typical Min.us gallery with images

A typical Min.us gallery with images

There are also links to share, embed and download individual files. You can therefore directly link to a particular file, or even embed it on a web page if you like by simply copying and pasting the code from the app – the appropriate preview component (slideshow, media player, text viewer or file type icon) will show up. You can have up to 100 files per gallery, with unlimited bandwidth.

Video and audio previews in Minus

Video and audio previews in Minus

Min.us in your arsenal

As a photographer, I come across potential clients from various sectors who’d like to see work from my portfolio that they’d be able to relate to best. With Min.us I can easily create a gallery tailored to each client’s needs. For example, I sent a band a gallery of my best concert photography to pitch for a chance to shoot their live tour, while I put together my most recent studio pictures to show a few friends whose portraits I wanted to shoot. Then, when I shoot a large number of shots for a project, I send across JPG previews in a Min.us gallery and ask the client to let me know which ones to retouch and send across.

A wedding photography gallery

A wedding photography gallery

Similarly, as a graphic designer, it’s easy to get feedback during every stage of the design process from clients using Min.us. For branding and identity projects, I put multiple versions of logotypes in a single gallery and add descriptive captions so each logotype is easy to discuss when the client sees them.

Not just a web app

Min.us works on multiple desktop and mobile platforms, including Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. There are also extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, which let you take screenshots or quickly drag-and-drop files to upload them to new galleries. They also let you view and edit your own galleries when logged in. The desktop apps offer similar functionality while taking up minimum space sitting in the system tray or menu bar. I was able to try the iPhone app, which allows you to upload images to a gallery or start a new one, and socially share links to files from existing galleries. Unfortunately there are no file previews in this version yet.

Min.us also has a few more tricks up its sleeve: its instant search allows you to look up users and galleries, and view results in a drop-down menu. Only public galleries appear on users’ profiles and in search results; private galleries can only be accessed by using the exact URL of each gallery. You can also invite friends now to join Min.us and earn Karma points you can use later for benefits that will be added in the future. To do this, you can share a direct link, or invite your friends via email, Facebook or Twitter.

Then, there are all kinds of little touches that make Min.us great to use:

  1. You can roll up the file list if you want a cleaner viewpoint
  2. There are buttons to copy links (in the desktop app and on the web app)
  3. The minimalistic interface is easy to get used to – the main links are at the bottom left; viewing options are on the bottom right. You can choose from a black or white theme (lights on/off), grid/carousel view, and toggle fullscreen viewing. Similarly, on user profiles including your own, you can choose to view your galleries as a grid, thumbnails or in a compact list.
  4. You can edit the names of galleries, files and links before you send them out (or even after – great if you remember to make changes or additions a little late).

Conclusion

Min.us works really well as a file-sharing app. The options to use and access it are comprehensive and easy to get the hang of. However, given the site’s design and since files can only be up to 50 MB in size, I recommend using Min.us for sharing and previewing personal media like images, audio and video. Then, there are plenty of other options for sharing larger files, of which we particularly liked UploadingIt. When you want to quickly share a picture or document from your browser or desktop, though, you can’t get much simpler than Min.us.


Summary

Min.us lets you share pictures, audio, video and other files easily and instantly using a minimalistic drag-and-drop interface.

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