The Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit & Guide

Dropbox, the app we all (at least many of us) know and love, has a plethora of advanced uses to make life so much easier in managing data between multiple computers and online. We’ve posted several roundups of tips and tricks for Dropbox and now we present our ultimate toolkit and guide.

We’ve pulled all our tips and tricks together and added quite a few more. Additionally, share your Dropbox tips and tricks and we’ll update the list to share the fun with everyone.

Dropbox?

Not familiar with Dropbox? Let me start out by simply saying, Dropbox is awesome. I mean, it’s so awesome we’ve dedicated more posts to it than any other app and it’s getting its own “ultimate” post to bring together all the amazing things you can do with it.

Is Dropbox a web app? Not exactly, but yes… and no. The primary component of Dropbox that we all know and love is the desktop app. It’s what takes care of the data syncing from your computer to the web or from your computer to other computer(s) on your local network.

Dropbox is software that syncs your files online and across your computers.

Dropbox Tour

Dropbox Tour

The secondary component of Dropbox is the web app. While the web app extends Dropbox’s functionality, the true power of Dropbox lies in its ability to work so reliably with your data and with other apps, which is the desktop app’s responsibility.

So what else can you do with Dropbox? Here’s our full (and growing) list of amazing tips and tricks to make the most of this fantastic app!

Tips & Tricks

Dropbox seems to have an ever growing list of fun things you can do with the app, so instead of scrolling through one massive list to find something that interests you, use the list below to skip straight to the section you’d like to read. If you have a tip or trick to contribute, please leave a comment below and we’ll consider adding it to the list!

Basic Tips List

Advanced Tips List

  1. Share Photo Galleries
  2. Consolidate Your iTunes Library
  3. Password Synchronization
  4. Create Your Own Digital Scrapbook
  5. Keep Your Firefox Profile in Sync
  6. Use Dropbox As Your Documents Folder
  7. Sync Your iTunes Library Across Multiple Computers
  8. Theft Recovery
  9. Home/Office Security
  10. Website/File Hosting and Sharing
  11. PHP Dropbox Uploader
  12. Multiple Dropbox Instances
  13. Making Dropbox Portable
  14. Sync Your iCal Calendar
  15. Using Dropbox & Eye-Fi for Instant Image Viewing
  16. Sync .torrent Files and Auto-Start Downloads
  17. Automatic Screenshot Sharing with Hazel [Mac]
  18. Sync XAMPP/MAMP Directories for Testing and Development
  19. Version Control
  20. OneNote Sync & Collaboration [Win]
  21. Synchronize Text Expansion Snippets
  22. Synchronize Design/Development Resources (Photoshop Presets, etc.)
  23. Shutdown, Restart or Sleep Your Computer with Hazel [Mac]
  24. Remotely Control Your Computer with Hazel [Mac]
  25. Public Link to Avatar For Quick Changes
  26. Synchronize Chat Logs
  27. File Edit Notifications with Growl
  28. Send Files to Dropbox via Email
  29. Sync Clipboard
  30. Sync Coda Books, Plugins & Site Previews

Basic Tips

Invite Others to Get Free Space — [tips list]

One of the easiest and most used tips is taking advantage of Dropbox’s referral system. For every friend you get to join Dropbox using your referral link, you’ll get 250 MB of additional storage space. Dropbox will give you up to 8 GB 10 GB of additional free storage space and up to 16 GB for pro accounts!

Invite Friends

Invite Friends

Local Area Network Sync — [tips list]

LAN Sync

LAN Sync

Local Area Network (LAN) data sync is a relatively new feature in Dropbox but might save you a significant amount of bandwidth if several of your computers live on the same network or “visit home” frequently. Make sure you have Enable LAN Sync checked in Dropbox’s preferences to use this feature. When your computers are connected to the same network, they’ll sync files that way rather than both uploading and downloading from the web.

You can read more about LAN sync via Dropbox’s help page.

Selective Folder Sync — [tips list]

The Dropbox team is currently working on adding selective sync to the stable Dropbox app release, but if you’d like to try this feature out now, just download the experimental build.

Once you’ve downloaded the newer version of Dropbox, navigate to its Preferences, then the Advanced tab. Click Selective Sync… and select the folders you do or don’t want synced. You can read more about selective sync via Dropbox’s help page.

Selective Sync

Selective Sync

Read Books on Your Mobile — [tips list]

A popular use for Dropbox is actually reading eBooks on mobile phones such as the iPhone. Of course this isn’t limited to PDF eBooks as you can view many more file types. Install the app for your respective mobile device, then simply access the files you’d like to view. See Mac.AppStorm’s guide to using Dropbox on the iPhone for more information.

You can also favorite the files you’d like to be able to access offline!

Force Download Files — [tips list]

If you’d like to share a file with someone else or perhaps download one of your own files rather than view it directly in the browser (like a PDF), you can simply add “?dl=1″ to the end of a public link. Doing so will force the file to download rather than attempt to be viewed within your browser.

Distribute Apps — [tips list]

Because Dropbox uses such a smart filesystem, duplicate files aren’t uploaded to the server if they’re already there, not just for your account but for the whole Dropbox filesystem. For example, if you want to upload a disk image of a new app you just found named “MyNewApp.dmg” and someone else has already uploaded that app, it will be instantly available on the server and won’t be uploaded from your computer.

This is great because many of the disk images you’re likely to want synced for installation on your other computers have already been uploaded. The disk images will immediately sync and download on your other computers, ready for you to install.

Advanced Tips

Share Photo Galleries — [tips list]

There are already many tools out there for sharing photos with your family abroad, but Dropbox is another good solution. It’s definitely one of the easiest to use.

Rather than taking a long time to upload files to a remote service, you can simply drag files from your computer or favourite photo management application (iPhoto, Picasa etc.) and drop them in a folder under Dropbox’s Photo folder.

Creating galleries is as easy as creating some folders.

Creating galleries is as easy as creating some folders.

Dropbox automatically creates a gallery that is available for people to see. All you need to do is right click on a folder of images and copy the public gallery link. Email the link to those you want to share with.

The simple, yet elegant galleries are a nice touch.

The simple, yet elegant galleries are a nice touch.

Shown here is a nice example of this usage. It’s the gallery of the folder where I save all my wallpaper files. You can see it in action (and take anything you like) from here: my wallpapers.

Consolidate Your iTunes Library — [tips list]

Keep your music up to date on all your machines.

Keep your music up to date on all your machines.

Rather than sharing your iTunes library all your family’s computers by keeping the files on a server or shared hard drive, simply keep it in your Dropbox folder. Ensure that your Dropbox account is setup on all the desired computers and then access the same library with all the same meta data (ratings, genres, album covers etc.) from everywhere.

Of course, unless your music library is very small, this option would require one of the paid accounts. 2 GBs of storage is not enough to hold most music collections.

Password Synchronization — [tips list]

Do the same with all your passwords.

Do the same with all your passwords.

Similar to the iTunes tip, you can do the same thing with your passwords. If you use a tool like 1Password or RoboForm, you know how nice it is to have all of your passwords in one place.

But when working on your spouse’s machine or your computer at work, suddenly you have to remember all those passwords again.

Use Dropbox to sync the application on multiple computers.

Create Your Own Digital Scrapbook — [tips list]

Because Dropbox sits right within the operating system and has nice web galleries for images, it’s a good solution for a digital scrapbook. Similar to a service like Ember, simply snap images and websites that inspire and copy them to a folder under the Photos in Dropbox.

Due to the nice thumbnails, you’ve got a great digital scrapbook that is available on the web and accessible via mobile devices as well. Click here for a great illustration of this idea.

Keep Your Firefox Profile in Sync — [tips list]

One thing I always disliked doing was trying to keep my Firefox items in sync across multiple computers. I’ve tried other solutions like Xmarks, but the easiest fix is to use Dropbox.

This way everything is synced — bookmarks, themes and extensions. Set up the browser the way you want it on one computer and enjoy that configuration on all your machines.

Use Dropbox As Your Documents Folder — [tips list]

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.

Mac

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.

Create OS X Symbolic Link to Documents Directory

Create OS X Symbolic Link to Documents Directory

Windows

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!

Changing the location of the My Documents directory.

Changing the location of the My Documents directory.

Sync Your iTunes Library Across Multiple Computers — [tips list]

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).

Choose Library

Choose Library

If you have a large iTunes library you’ll likely need a larger Dropbox subscription plan.

Theft Recovery — [tips list]

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! (see next tip) Also, using tip #24, you can obtain additional information with other apps via remote control using Hazel.

Home/Office Security — [tips list]

Taking the last tip a step further, you can install web cameras around your home or office and set them set to capture images at desired intervals. Set those images to be stored in your Dropbox directory so you can quickly see if anything is happening.

I’ve setup iCam, an app 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 iPhone is notified that my computer has detected motion and I can quickly view the new snapshots (or a live video feed with the iCam iPhone app) and notify the police if necessary.

iCam Motion Detection

iCam Motion Detection

It’s certainly a cheaper alternative than expensive security systems that do the same thing!

Website/File Hosting and Sharing — [tips list]

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.

Public URL

Public URL

PHP Dropbox Uploader — [tips list]

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 — [tips list]

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?

Making Dropbox Portable — [tips list]

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 — [tips list]

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 — [tips list]

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.

Sync .torrent Files and Auto-Start Downloads — [tips list]

One of the most popular uses for Dropbox, submitted by you guys, was to sync .torrent files from one system to another, which would then automatically download them. Those of you not already doing this might be wondering how this is accomplished, well here’s how.

You need to first setup a BitTorrent client capable of automatically loading .torrent files from a specified directory. Snag a major client (BitTorrent, Transmission, uTorrent, Vuze) and you’ll be good. Once you’ve setup a capable BitTorrent client, you’ll need to set it to watch for torrent files in a specified directory. I’ve selected the main Dropbox directory in the screenshot below but you may want to specify a sub-directory.

Transmission Autostart Downloads

Transmission Autostart Downloads

Your client may be a little different but they’ll all have similar settings. Note that I’ve also selected the option to delete the original torrent files once they’re no longer needed. Now you’ll be able to start your .torrent downloads at home while you’re at work, school or elsewhere.

Automatic Screenshot Sharing with Hazel [Mac] — [tips list]

Perhaps my favorite new trick with Dropbox is combining the power of Hazel to create some very helpful workflows. I share screenshots frequently in my day to day workflow and a simple Hazel rule will copy screenshots I create into a folder I specify within Dropbox, then copy the public URL to my clipboard to quickly share with others.

You’ll need to download Hazel if you haven’t already and create a new rule. If there’s a Windows equivalent of Hazel, let us know in the comments and I’ll update this section with the Windows version as well.

Once you’re in Hazel, create a new rule. I’ve named mine Auto-Screenshot Upload [Dropbox]. Create two conditions that will recognize the screenshot(s) on your desktop, followed by three actions.

  1. Copy the file to the Screenshots directory, located within your Dropbox’s Public directory.
  2. Rename the file with a custom pattern (I’ve set the date created and extension).
  3. Run an AppleScript that will copy the uploaded screenshot URL to your clipboard. You’ll need to replace the user ID in the URL with your unique ID (replace the “XXXXXXX” with your ID). To find your ID, view a file’s public URL; your user ID directly follows “https://dl.dropbox.com/u/”.
Auto-Upload Screenshots with Hazel

Auto-Upload Screenshots with Hazel

You can easily use Hazel to monitor a Dropbox directory and execute tasks based on files you add to Dropbox remotely!

Sync XAMPP/MAMP Directories for Testing and Development — [tips list]

If you’re a web developer, you likely work with multiple platforms. I personally develop for the web on a Mac, but testing is also done on Windows. Many developers use apps like XAMPP and MAMP for development but it takes extra time to copy over your testing files from one system to another. Let Dropbox do the work and sync your files while you do more important things.

To accomplish this, simply change the location of XAMPP and MAMP’s default root directory to be located within your Dropbox directory. As you work on your files on one system, the changes will be accessible on other systems you’ve set this up for. You’ll be able to easily jump on your Windows/Mac system and test your new website.

MAMP and XAMPP

MAMP and XAMPP

A big benefit to a setup like this is you’ll always have access to your development files via Dropbox’s web interface.

Version Control — [tips list]

One of Dropbox’s greatest features is version history. With a free account you’ll get 30 days of file version history, plenty for most people. If that’s not enough though, you can get unlimited file version history with paid accounts. You’ll never have to worry about losing progress again!

Version History

Version History

OneNote Sync & Collaboration [Win] — [tips list]

The OneNote users out there will be happy to hear it’s a snap to sync and collaborate on OneNote notebooks using Dropbox. To do this, create a new notebook, set the folder location within Dropbox, set the sharing type to be used with multiple people in a shared folder on “this computer”. You’ll want to select this option so OneNote will display changes made from any computer on the fly.

With this setup, you can move from computer to computer (that has this setup) and edit your OneNote notebook(s), even if you leave the app open on another computer. You could also use this setup to allow others to collaborate with you live.

Synchronize Text Expansion Snippets — [tips list]

Among the plethora of apps people use Dropbox to sync settings, resources and files, my most recent favorite has to be synchronizing text expansion snippets. I recently took a short trip away from home and shortly after leaving I realized I hadn’t copied over my text expansion snippets to my laptop. I was horrified because I rely on these to speed up productivity quite a bit. With Dropbox that’s no longer an issue.

I’m using Typinator but many other text expansion apps can be easily setup with Dropbox. Simply change the location of your libraries to a location within Dropbox. Some, like TextExpander, even support it natively!

Typinator and Dropbox

Typinator and Dropbox

Synchronize Design/Development Resources (Photoshop Presets, etc.) — [tips list]

Many of us are designers and/or web developers, and as such we use a huge amount of varying resources over time. Working on multiple systems, especially in distant locations, can make it a pain to keep all those resources always accessible.

Throw Dropbox into the mix and you can easily keep your graphics, app preferences and other resources in sync between your systems. For example, many of us use Photoshop and likely piles of related presets. To keep these in sync between systems, simply copy your Photoshop Presets directory over to your Dropbox directory and create a symbolic link to it named “Presets”. Place this symbolic link in your Photoshop app directory in place of the original Presets directory.

Presets Sync

Presets Sync

Now when you make changes (like adding or removing brushes), they’ll be identical on all the systems you’ve set this up on. You’ll have to repeat the setup process for each app you want this to work for but it only takes a second!

Shutdown, Restart or Sleep Your Computer with Hazel [Mac] — [tips list]

You can easily control your Mac remotely using Hazel, Dropbox and a touch of AppleScript. Create a new Hazel directory to monitor and create a new Rule. I’ve named this rule Shutdown.

Control Computer with Hazel - Shutdown

Control Computer with Hazel - Shutdown

I’ve set Hazel to recognize a specific file name, run an AppleScript, then delete the file once complete. The next time I forget to shutdown or sleep your computer, or maybe I’ll just need to restart it remotely, I can simply drop a file with a specific name to accomplish this. I’ve created three rules for each action.

Computer Action Rules

Computer Action Rules

Remotely Control Your Computer with Hazel [Mac] — [tips list]

Taking the previous tip a little further, we can control more aspects of our Mac such as collecting system profile information, getting your computer’s current IP, opening or closing apps, etc. Follow the same steps as described in the previous tip and use the following scripts to accomplish each task.

If you have some great AppleScripts that would work great with a combination of Dropbox and Hazel, let us know in the comments below. Thanks!

Collect System Profile Information

The following AppleScript will collect your system’s full profile information, including IP address and other internet/network settings. A text file with the information will be created, named with the current date and time. If your computer is stolen and you have this setup with Hazel, you can collect valuable information that might help retrieve your computer.

You should replace “~/Dropbox/iMac\\ Security/iMac_System_Profile_” with the directory you’d like the text file to be stored in and the first part of the name (in this case “iMac_System_Profile_”, the rest being a date stamp.

set curDate to (do shell script "date +%Y-%m-%d")
set curTime to (do shell script "date +%I.%M.%S.%p")

do shell script "/usr/sbin/system_profiler > ~/Dropbox/iMac\\ Security/iMac_System_Profile_" & curDate & "_" & curTime & ".txt"

Get Current IP

If you need to collect the current IP of your home computer, you can use the following AppleScript to find it and save it to a text file.

You should replace “~/Dropbox/iMac\\ Security/myip_” with the directory you’d like the text file to be stored in and the first part of the name (in this case “iMac_System_Profile_”, the rest being a date stamp.

set curDate to (do shell script "date +%Y-%m-%d")
set curTime to (do shell script "date +%I.%M.%S.%p")
do shell script "curl --silent http://checkip.dyndns.org > ~/Dropbox/iMac\\ Security/myip_" & curDate & "_" & curTime & ".txt"

Open Any Application

Want to remotely launch an app on your home computer? The following script will pull the name of an app that you choose from a text file using the process mentioned above with Hazel. You can launch any app so long as you know its name.

For example, mine is setup such that when Hazel recognizes a new text file starting with “#Open_” within a specific Dropbox directory, it will take the second part of the text file name and launch the appropriate app. To launch Safari, I would use a text file named “#Open_Safari”.

set file_path to theFile as text
try
	set text item delimiters to ":"
	set file_name to last text item of file_path
	set text item delimiters to ""
on error
	set text item delimiters to ""
end try
set theApp to text ((offset of "_" in file_name) + 1) thru -1 of file_name
tell application theApp to activate

Quit Any Running Application

Forget to close an app on your home computer before leaving? The following script will pull the name of an app that you choose from a text file using the process mentioned above with Hazel. You can quit any app so long as you know its name.

For example, mine is setup such that when Hazel recognizes a new text file starting with “#Quit_” within a specific Dropbox directory, it will take the second part of the text file name and quit the appropriate app. To quit Safari, I would use a text file named “#Quit_Safari”.

set file_path to theFile as text
try
	set text item delimiters to ":"
	set file_name to last text item of file_path
	set text item delimiters to ""
on error
	set text item delimiters to ""
end try
set theApp to text ((offset of "_" in file_name) + 1) thru -1 of file_name
tell application theApp to quit

Take Screenshot

To take a single screenshot, use the following AppleScript.

You should replace “~/Desktop/Screen\\ shot\\ ” with the directory and name you’d like the image file to be stored in and the first part of the name (in this case “Screen\\ shot\\ “, the rest being a date stamp. This script works for dual screen screenshots.

set curDate to (do shell script "date +%Y-%m-%d")
set curTime to (do shell script "date +%I.%M.%S.%p")

set loc to "~/Desktop/Screen\\ shot\\ "
set f to ".png"
set ss1 to loc & curDate & "\\ at\\ " & curTime & f
set ss2 to loc & curDate & "\\ at\\ " & curTime & "_2" & f
do shell script "screencapture " & ss1 & " " & ss2

Take Timed Screenshots with 30 second Delay

Maybe someone stole your computer and you’d like to take screenshots every 30 seconds for a certain period of time? Use the following AppleScript to do so. You can change the delay time between repeat runs, as well as the number of times the script should re-run itself.

You should replace “~/Dropbox/iMac\\ Security/Timed\\ Screenshots/Screen\\ shot\\ ” with the directory and name you’d like the image file to be stored in and the first part of the name (in this case “Screen\\ shot\\ “, the rest being a date stamp. This script works for dual screen screenshots.

repeat 2 times
	set curDate to (do shell script "date +%Y-%m-%d")
	set curTime to (do shell script "date +%I.%M.%S.%p")
	
	set loc to "~/Dropbox/iMac\\ Security/Timed\\ Screenshots/Screen\\ shot\\ "
	set f to ".png"
	set ss1 to loc & curDate & "\\ at\\ " & curTime & f
	set ss2 to loc & curDate & "\\ at\\ " & curTime & "_2" & f
	do shell script "screencapture " & ss1 & " " & ss2
	delay (30) -- delay 30 seconds
end repeat

If you frequent several forums or other sites that you use an avatar with, you’ll likely know it can be a giant pain to change your avatar on each site. Put your avatar in your Dropbox Public directory and use the public link to it on the sites you frequently visit. Any time you want to change your avatar you can easily swap it out in Dropbox and it’ll change across all your sites.

Synchronize Chat Logs — [tips list]

If you’re a big chatter you’ll likely want to access your chat logs on whichever system you might be using. I personally use Skype in my day to day workflow so I’ll use that as an example here.

Before you start, make sure Skype isn’t running. Next, you’ll need to move Skype’s “main” chat history files into the Dropbox directory. Then create a symbolic link to your Skype history files (now in the Dropbox directory) and place that in place of the files you just moved. On your additional systems you’ll then remove the Application Support directory for Skype and replace it with a symbolic link to the files now in Dropbox.

It’s not recommended to run Skype in multiple locations at once, which can cause file conflicts.

File Edit Notifications with Growl — [tips list]

If you use Dropbox to collaborate on files frequently and you’re a Growl user, you can quickly setup Growl and Dropbox to notify you when files have been changed. It’s an easy way to be notified when your colleges are working on files within Dropbox.

Dropbox Growl

Dropbox Growl

Send Files to Dropbox via Email — [tips list]

Want to email files into your Dropbox account? Use http://gethabilis.com or http://sendtodropbox.com to setup a free, unique email address that’s connected to your Dropbox account. When you email attachments via the custom email address you’re assigned, the files will be uploaded to your Dropbox account.

Send to Dropbox via Email

Send to Dropbox via Email

Sync Clipboard — [tips list]

Moving from one computer to another can be a pain if there is information on the prior computer’s clipboard that you needed. Thanks to Dropbox, however, if you use a clipboard management app you can keep your clipboard data synced between computers for quick and easy access at any time!

I use iClip to manage my clipboard data so I’ve created a symbolic link to iClip’s data so the clips will now be synced with Dropbox.

In terminal, move iClip’s database directory to your Dropbox directory, then create a symbolic link to the directory in the Preferences directory.

mv ~/Library/Preferences/iClip\ Clippings.clipdb ~/Dropbox/
ln -s ~/Dropbox/iClip\ Clippings.clipdb/ ~/Library/Preferences/iClip\ Clippings.clipdb

On additional computers, just replace the the iClip database directory with the symbolic link (the last command in terminal).

Sync Coda Books, Plugins & Site Previews — [tips list]

If you use Coda, a popular coding app, on multiple computers, you can sync Coda’s books, Plug-ins and Site Previews across computers.

In terminal, move the Coda application support directory into your Dropbox directory, then create a symbolic link to the directory in the Application Support directory.

mv ~/Library/Application\ Support/Coda ~/Dropbox/
ln -s ~/Dropbox/Coda/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/Coda

On additional computers, just replace the the Coda application support directory with the symbolic link (the last command in terminal).

Share Yours!

I know there are still more tips and tricks being used with Dropbox, so if you have any that we don’t have listed here, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to the list. Thanks!


  • http://www.BruneianDollar.com Bruneian Dollar

    Alright. I’m sold. Gonna get myself a Dropbox account and use it much more actively this time. Oh the many uses I can think of to use Dropbox for. Storing porn, and downloading more. It’s the perfect crime! :P

    No, I’m just kidding. I could do it though, but I’d rather have them on my CDs to watch whenever. I think Dropbox would make a great arsenal tool to my web development area.

  • http://loneplacebo.com Tony

    Dropbox actually offers 16 GB of free storage through referrals now. Must be there way of wiping out the competition.

    Great post! Here is are some posts I recently wrote about Dropbox:

    8 Useful Dropbox Tips & Tricks

    How to Sync Files and Folders Outside Your Dropbox Folder with Automator (Mac)

    • http://Web.AppStorm.net Jarel Remick

      Interesting, their referral page states a limit of 8 GB. Can you show me where they state a new limit of 16 GB?

      Great posts on Dropbox by the way!

      • Chris

        16 GB ist for students only

    • http://ivorpadilla.net Ivor

      Hey Tony but they say in their site 8GB (http://cl.ly/33y2)

      • http://loneplacebo.com Tony
      • http://www.meetscience.net Ricardo

        As much as I understand, 16 GB is not for student. Instead is a bonus quota when one of your referrals buy a pro account.

        https://www.dropbox.com/help/54

        Great post :)

      • http://www.auslandssemester-bali.de Chris

        If you sign up with your student email address (.edu) then you will always get double space for each referral. That’s why it is 16GB for students and 8 GB for non students. I have a dropbox account since long time ago and at that time I signed up with my gmail address. I got already 8 GB from referrals. Then I changed my email-address to my student email address. After I did that my space in dropbox doubled.

    • http://Web.AppStorm.net Jarel Remick

      Great, thanks for the screenshot! I’ve updated the article. :)

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  • http://www.jasonfweb.com Jason Fontana

    Very nice post! I always talk about this in my blog!
    A short note: why not use OS X built-in Folder-Actions instead if Hazel? I believe you can manage to do the same things without paying for Hazel
    Also, when I get on my Mac I’ll surely post some other tricks I know!

    • http://Web.AppStorm.net Jarel Remick

      Hmm, that’s a good idea. I like the extra features Hazel has to offer but if it’s not necessary to accomplish the same thing then that’s even better.

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  • http://lpezda.com lpezda

    OMG! This is the first “ultimate” post I’ve been seen in my all life that actually is really ultimate! I’ll be gonna read this all week.

    Simply: thank You!

    • http://www.marcelboast.com/badboteliminator/ Marcel

      hahaha… so true, it is THE “ultimate” posts of ultimate posts!! Most useful post I’ve seen in a long time

  • http://www.jasonfweb.com Jason Fontana

    I use PlainText on iOS to sync notes via Dropbox to my laptop.
    AirDropper to receive files from other to my Dropbox folder, even if they don’t have Dropbox themselves.
    Also, I have some folder actions that let me:
    - Print from iOS (basically it watches a folder for items and print them to my printer)
    - Use PlainText to add Things tasks from iOS (it runs an AppleScript that takes from a text file a specific pattern, and then add it to Things)
    - Use PlainText to write AppleScripts and control my Mac remotely

    • http://Web.AppStorm.net Jarel Remick

      Great tips! Thanks for sharing. :)

    • http://sansotto.tumblr.com sansotto

      Airdropper is great! Thanks for the tip :)

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  • http://www.wearepapertiger.com Jason Debiak

    We use team version control with Dropbox set up with Transmit. For a small group of designers it works beautifully for development and version control. Here’s how we set it up: http://bit.ly/aoLHLr

    • http://Web.AppStorm.net Jarel Remick

      That’s a great tip! We’ll add a mention of it to the list and link it back to your setup tutorial. :)

      • http://www.wearepapertiger.com Jason Debiak

        Awesome. Glad you we could help!

  • http://monixweb.tumblr.com Bruno Moniz

    I’ve used the ln command in one computer to put the coda folder in dropbox. When I use the same command on other computer so I can sync both, it tells me that the file exists.

    Any ideas how can I link the other computer to dropbox?

    • http://Web.AppStorm.net Jarel Remick

      Hey Bruno,

      Sorry for the confusion! I had it setup backwards but I’ve fixed the article. You’ll need to move Coda’s application support directory into Dropbox, then create a symbolic link to it and place it back into the Application Support directory. On additional computers, just remove Coda’s application support directory and replace it with a symbolic link to the one now in Dropbox (run the second terminal command). :)

  • http://www.music-explained.com j

    Great round-up.

    Im a massive dropbox fan and its helpful to see all these different ways to use the product.

  • http://www.hauntin.com Praveen Ram C

    Wow ! really a nice post. Good compilation and i guess it’s the longest post in Appstorm !

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  • http://fairheadcreative.com Adam Fairhead

    Ahh, I love Dropbox more and more every time I do something with it. I honestly hadn’t thought of using it for my root MAMP folder. Thanks for that!

  • Kyle

    I still haven’t found my #1 most desired Dropbox feature: provide dropbox with a URL and have it add whatever is found there. For instance I can just give dropbox a URL to a pdf and it will add the PDF i’m pointing to into my dropbox. They need to add this functionality to their iOS apps asap it would really come in handy!

    • http://www.ic.ucoz.ru Ivan

      Lol, Kyle, why not give dropbox a magnet link to a torrent ))

    • http://adamwilbert.com Adam

      YES! This is my #1 dropbox request. Let me browse the web on my iPhone, when I find a file I want to get, say a .zip or whatever, instead of getting an unsupported file message, I get an option to save to dropbox.

    • Yanai Ron

      you can use ifttt Trigger for that purpose exactly
      http://ifttt.com

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  • http://bfred.it bayxsonic

    No, no, no, that’s awful! If you really want to control your computer on Internet you’re better off setting up a SSH server, or if you want to use it from your phone you can use this: http://lifehacker.com/5661446/homecontrol-lets-you-control-your-mac-from-your-ios-device
    Setting up a Hazel rule for every command is just a mess, there are plenty of better options.

    • http://flavors.me/bemental bemental

      SSH is and will remain an awesome tool… until your IP address changes because your laptop was stolen.

      While some of the Hazel-based command functions are a bit overkill, I do like the idea of having Hazel record data and sync it to my Dropbox.

  • Steinar Knutsen

    Add Simle Note app for iPad to the list

  • http://jpc101.com James Cooper

    This is a nifty script that allows you to put dropbox photo galleries in a web site: http://2boandco.com/en/products/my-php-dropbox-gallery (it’s in French but there’s a translator thing on the site!)

  • http://awesome-media.net Timo Burmeister

    Hi guys!

    that’s really awesome! no…wait…more like legendary!!!

    :)

    I use dropbox to keep my bibliography app, like zotero, in sync. Very useful when I’m on a public computer in my university.

    keep up the good work!

    greetz from Germany

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  • http://des-or-mad.net Oliver Rapp

    Great post. I use my Dropbox in conjunction with a TiddlyWiki HTML file for taking personal notes and as a “portable” knowledge base. For sensible informations I also have an encrypted TrueCrypt volume in my Dropbox.

    • Ben

      TrueCrypt with dropbox isn’t very good, because it will syncronize the whole file over and over instead of just the change you made in your container :(

      • Sven

        Dropbox synchronizes only the modified content of the container file if Truecrypt is set up correctly, see http://forums.dropbox.com/topic.php?id=14332
        “Preserve modification time of file containers” is the key.

        HTH.

  • Simon

    DROPitTOme – Securely receive files from anyone to your Dropbox.

    http://www.dropitto.me

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  • http://www.jobboerse.org/ Nils

    Omg, I’ve been using Dropbox for quite some time now but I didn’t know about / think of half of the stuff on that list.
    Thank you verrryy much

  • http://www.bestbloggertemplates.net Blogger Guy

    Great post stopped me in my Stumble :)

  • Chris Wanja

    For your sync .torrent files, you may want to add in there to watch out and change the download directory. If you leave it as ‘Same directory as torrent file’ then your Dropbox might get overloaded and fill up. Also, it may just always look like it is syncing.

  • Paul Parkinson

    All excellent, and yes I love Dropbox and use it daily. But still, it infuriates me that I can’t order the files by date modified or date added on my iPhone version. A basic piece of functionality, no?

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  • Mark Osborne

    Awesome list guys! There’s now an improved version of Jaka Jancar’s PHP Dropbox Uploader on CodeCanyon: http://codecanyon.net/item/advanced-dropbox-uploader/135492

  • JB

    Thanks for putting this list together. I have read it 3 or 4 times and really think it is one of the best and most comprehensive “ultimate” lists I’ve ever seen. I have used DropBox continually for the last two years and am continually amazed at how well it works. I just hope it is truly highly secure.

    I’d like to see a similarly awesome post on Evernote – another favorite of mine.

    Great Job!

  • Ken Shi

    This was an awesome post Jarel, great job!

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  • http://rubylearning.com/blog/ Satish Talim

    Awesome post. Much appreciated.

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  • BillyGuy

    Thx for this article, it gave me a few ideas ! :)

    One question though, i use the ical, safari and address book sync trick, but i did it the other way around, like this :
    I quit DropBox on both comps, and make symbolic link from the support folders to the dropbox folder on both machines, then i launch Dropbox and it syncs.

    I would not say it doesn’t work, it works allright, but it does not look fluent, i have very often “conflicted copy” files, so i’m wondering if the way i do it is not good… Even if i don’t find any reasonable reason why, so i ask you people, what do you think ? Do you think it makes a difference ? (except the fact that i’m obliged to quit DropBox when i do the “ln” but this is nothing)

    Thx for any answer and again for the post :)

    • Chris

      I use dropbox to sync those apps too. Unfortunately, this is a consequences of concurrent access. Only way I have been able to avoid the conflicts is by ensuring that I only have the apps running on one computer at a time.

  • Pizdin Dim

    Great article, with lots of practical tips. Just take care with your spelling:

    “You’ll never have to worry about loosing progress again!”

    As opposed to tightening progress?

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  • Joost

    Awesome article! Not many of the Dropbox tips were new to me, but Hazel definitely was! Great tip! Set up my security folder so that I can now track down a thief in case my MacBook is stolen – hope I remember the procedure then!

  • chris

    I’ll post an invite: Sync your files online and across computers with Dropbox. 2GB account is free! http://db.tt/F6RejAf

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  • Chrigu

    How to synchronice Addressbook and iCal (Mac)?
    thanks for answer
    Chrigu

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  • alohabobo

    wouhaou ! great compilation of tips about dropbox ! thanks a lot !

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  • http://adamwilbert.com Adam

    I use Dropbox in place of MacOS’s “Save PDF to Web Receipts Folder” workflow under the PDF button from the print dialog box. Simply place an alias to a dropbox folder in \Library\PDF Services. Now all of my saved receipts and order confirmations are in the same place, regardless of what computer I made the purchase from.

    • JodyRoody

      Would mind elaborating on this?,
      Does my request go directly to you, or posted?
      Newbie

      Small business owner revamping and swamped.
      Thank you so much.

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  • huib

    I use Ewallet, both Mac and Wndows version. Of course the datafile is on Dropbox.
    Just my 10 cents.

    Huib

  • http://cpak.se Christofer

    Dropbox + MacOS folder actions + arbitrary AppleScript can be used to for example automatically add photos taken on your iPhone/Android to your iPhoto library (given that you use the Dropbox app and upload photos from your device). A while ago I used this technique to sync stuff on my iPhone with Yojimbo on my Mac.

  • David

    Hello,

    About Sync Your iCal Calendar, I’m sorry but i don’t know what I have to do exacty on my additional computers to access the calendars.

    What I have to put on the terminal exactly ?
    (same quetsion with Sync Coda Books, Plugins & Site Previews)

    Thank you a million by advance

  • http://trac.cyberduck.ch/wiki/help/en/howto/dropbox David Kocher

    Access your Dropbox without syncing to your computer using Cyberduck.

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  • David

    Me again…

    I’m sorry but, about Calendars sync, i did this on my primary Mac:

    mv ~/Library/Calendars ~/Dropbox/

    It works!

    Now, I did this

    ln -s ~/Dropbox/Calendars/ ~/Library/Calendars

    It works on my Primary Mac but it doesn’t on my Laptop. My terminal says:

    ln: /Users/david/Library/Calendars/: File exists

    And this it. It Nothing happened. So, what i have to do exactly on my second Mac?
    Thank you again!

    David

    • aaron

      Did you find a solution to this problem? I have the exact same issue.

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  • Ben

    Nice article ! pretty well done, but the “Portable” dropbox is not longer supported, see the page : http://wiki.dropbox.com/DropboxAddons/DropboxPortable
    “Description

    Update: DropboxPortable sounded like a really useful thing, unfortunately it has been discontinued The download link below contains no download, only a note saying it is no longer available. Don’t get your hopes up by reading the rest of this page… Try looking at Dropbox Portable ICE instead.”

    At my opinion, dropbox should support :
    - fully dropbox portable
    - email to dropbox directly without a third party site that we don’t know what they do about our data (i speak about: sendtodropbox.com & ethabilis.com).

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  • http://www.shawnhonnick.com/ Shawn Honnick

    One quirky limitation is when I share a photo folder with another Dropbox user, the option for me to copy the public gallery link disappears from my context menu within the app on my desktop and there seems to be no way to generate a public gallery link for these shared folders.

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  • http://blog.gelbzucht.de m@ik

    Great article, thx for the summary!

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  • aaron

    So I’ve tried the Documents folder and iCal tricks, but I’m having no luck. The folders appeared in my dropbox, but they are not linking. Now I’m afraid I’ve screwed up my computers as I’ve never used terminal before. I entered exactly what was written in the post.

    • http://bocabit.com The-Rocker

      It’s because the tutorial is wrong. You need to put the symlink where the Documents folder was, moving the original Documents folder to Dropbox. Take as example the Coda tip, it is explained well and does the same.

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  • http://meerzdaily.blogspot.com Meerz

    I use Dropbox to sync my Safari Bookmarks simultaneously between my Macs. I posted the trick on my blog :
    http://meerzdaily.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-sync-safari-bookmarks-using.html

    I also use it to sync my MacJournal Library. Works great :)

  • Sven

    FYI, for those who did not notice yet Habilis recently shut down their e-mail service so the “Send Files to Dropbox via Email” tip needs an update.

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  • Deb

    great article .. Thanks. Unfortunately “Habilis” shut down recently ( as mentioned) and there seems to be a bunch of issues with Sendtodropbox. – ie: it doesn’t work. I have done a little research & I am not the only one with this issue – perhaps the mega traffic from Habilis has crashed the unsuspecting dev over there at Sendtodropbox.

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  • Michael Tiller

    I use Dropbox for version control, but not in the way described. True, you get versions of all your files, but you don’t really get the critical features of a version control system (branching, merging, diffing) very easily. But there is a simple solution, use any of the distributed version control systems (Git, Mercurial, Bazaar) and put your repository in your Dropbox.

    I would not recommend this for two people working simultaneously on a code base (for that, you need some kind of support for locking I would guess) but I use it all the time to be able to move from computer to computer and as a way to have an off-site backup of my repository.

    (Note, I always keep a local repo on the machine I’m working on and just “push/pull” to the Dropbox repo)

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  • http://studiomadison.ru Zhuykov Denis

    Magnificent article! Just one question. I really liked the hint to sync the documents folder and did the way you described, but it doesn’t seem to sync the documents folder. I’ve got the symbolic link in the dropbox folder pointing to the documents folder, but there is no documents folder on the dropbox site – there is a file without extension named documents which is not viewable. Could you please tell me what went wrong? Thanks in advance!

  • http://db.tt/wrNzFb2 Bonzai

    I use Dropbox to:

    * sync my entire Chrome folder
    * sync KeePass passwords
    * share files/screenshots

    Download it free here: http://db.tt/wrNzFb2

    • Lucas

      can you explain how you have managed to sync your chrome folder? as well as if this way, you synced your chrome tabs viewing the same tabs in differente computers?

      thanks,
      lucas.

  • Konstantinos T.

    Great post! Thumbs up!

  • http://www.mastersineducationguides.org masters in education

    Agreed, very thorough, and very helpful post!

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  • http://www.mastersinpublichealthguides.org masters in public health

    So I have tried the Docs folder and iCal tricks, but no luck. The folders appeared in my dropbox, but they are not linking. What do I do?

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  • http://www.HousecallsNiagara.com Xander

    Habilis has shut down but “SendToDropbox.com” has picked up where it left off.

  • steve smith

    Use Dropbox as a Cloud Printer:

    Print any files sent to your dropbox folder by pointing your local printer spool there.

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  • http://www.mentorlog.com mentorlog

    Great tips..I am great fan of dropbox

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  • http://socialworkdegreeguides.org/ Social Work Degree

    I use dropbox for my Itunes and movie files- it is by far the easiest way to remotely store large amounts of data. Even the paid accounts are worth it when you look at the big picture…

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  • Jim Sewell

    This is an awesome list and a great companion for a recent podcast from Mac Power Users (macpowerusers.com)! MPU 047 : Dropbox Awesomeness covers some uses for Dropbox from a different perspective. Some things are the same but I thought I’d mention it in case anyone was interested. I also linked to this list from their comments because the two really do go hand-in-hand.

    Obligatory Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with MPU other than being a happy and regular listener.

  • http://id.linkedin.com/in/rizky Rizky Syazuli

    just curious. what’s the difference between making an alias from the Finder menu and creating a symlink from the Terminal?

    tried both method with the chat log tutorial, but it only works when i create the alias via terminal.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/snippetme the facebook gal

    I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

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  • http://db.tt/JlAka33 Abhigyan

    Hey, I’m using DB to sync my Mnemosyne folders across my desktop, laptop and HTC phone! Works great especially if you want to learn GRE words on the go and have it synchronize everywhere automatically!!

    Help me out by using my referral given above… :)

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  • http://www.marowi.com Manuel

    I really love Dropbox. Thanks for that good compilation.

  • http://www.tabletpcunion.com tabletpcunion

    I love this dropbox. good post.

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  • http://droppages.com/ Go99an

    You can use Dropbox as a Content Management System (CMS) via droppages.com to build your own website.
    The best bit though is the use of DropPages with Chrome Browser and the SourceKit add-on (src:kit) to edit your content in one tab and then review it in another tab!
    I’m not the author of this – I’m not clever enough – but this is a fantastic way to get yourself a website built with minimal knowledge.

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  • Clay

    using Windows Explorer for sharing calendars emails etc, i want to try syncing outlook calendar with Dropbox
    cant this be done or something else used to share calendars through dropbox?
    clay

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Hmm, I’ve never seen any calendar apps that sync via Dropbox, but you could always save your calendar’s iCal file to your Dropbox folder and share it with others there. Alternately, Google Calendar is really one of the best for shared calendars.

  • http://www.vanzarianvelope.net/ Michel

    I agree, Google calendar is the best app

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  • http://www.teachwatts.com Dana Watts

    Excellent resource to help me better understand one of my favorite tools. Thank you for sharing.

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  • http://www.xyzbc.com/ 高档翡翠

    Thank you for sharing this post. I am searching for articles that would help me utilize my Dropbox even more and this one helped a lot.

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  • http://whyimalwaysright.blogspot.com/ Josh

    I use two macs, one for school and one at home. I like to use my desktop as my inbox for many things, screenshots, files I am immediately working on. When I left school my files would be on my MacBook Air’s desktop but I want to work on my iMac.
    Solution: I set up symbolic links to synchronize my desktops of my two macs. With a littler terminal action and drag and drop it was a snap. Now I have all my files exactly how I left them when left school or home.

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  • frances

    With dropbox can I share something I like from my iPhone instead of using your computer

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  • fernman

    I have installed UK’s Kalendar as a portable version in Dropbox, so I can see and manage my schedule which is synced on whichever computer I am using.
    And instead of having Dropbox so full of miscellaneous folders and files that I can’t find anything, I have installed the portable version of RightNote in Dropbox and I use that as a PIM. It contains my contacts (each hyperlinked to mailto), to-do’s, passwords and every single note and document that was on my computers, so everything I need is readily available wherever my Dropbox account is linked.

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  • nottechsavy

    I am mainly using db for pictures right now. I have a mytouch 4g phone and use the camera on this as our main family camera. It is extremely useful to put all of our pics into db from my phone. However, I am at a loss as to how in the world to get that ugly date stamp ON each picture. My phone obviously has the date if I “view details” but I need to see the date on the pictures. This is a must for me as I have young children and want to see at a glance their age, etc. PLEASE tell me there is a way to date stamp my pics in db?

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  • Charles Larkins

    Using the instructions you provided, I moved my iCal data to Dropbox and would now like to move it back to it’s original location. Is there a way to do this without losing any data?

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  • Andreas

    All the links to wiki.dropbox.com seem to be broken :-(

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  • http://sourceforge.net/projects/send2mypc nicolas

    Good post !
    Add this : There is an application which can start a download at home from send a link with Dropbox. It’s Send2myPC with Dropbox. It’s open source GPL. The author say : “Want to download a file but you are not at home ? Send the link to your Dropbox then your PC at home will download it.”
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/send2mypc

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  • Lucas

    Hey, nice tips, but, I don’t have the Coda folders on the ~/Library/Application\ Support/
    Can you help me?

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  • Bob Davies

    Fine – bu evertime I have tried to set up Dropbox and log in from another computer the files are Read Only.

    What am I missing or have I simply overlooked something very simple?

  • Ron Scribner

    I am working on a Mac so this may be a Mac only issue.

    How do you download multiple files from a dropbox folder?

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/110152281350391156002/posts Sam Gilmore

    Wow! Imressive share about Dropbox. I found out a lot of new features and how-to’s. For example I didn’t know that with cloud storage it’s possible to sync chat logs. I wonder if I can use 4sync cloud storage the same way? I use it because it provides 15Gb for free without referrals. But it seems to me that it pretty mush the same as Dropbox.

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  • mumbler

    For the windows users the auto-screen app you want to use is http://www.autoscreensnap.com

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