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online sharing toolsSimpleShare is a Mac and Windows based app for sharing files, screenshots and screencasts across the box.net cloud storage system. We’ve shown you a simple hack for direct right-click in Windows uploading How To Upload Files To The Awesome Box.Net Directly from Windows Explorer How To Upload Files To The Awesome Box.Net Directly from Windows Explorer Read More before, but this new free app makes the process even simpler. Best of all it’s available for both Windows and Mac, and it’s a joy to use.

Signup, Download & Install

If you don’t already have a box.net account, you’ll need to sign up and confirm your email address first.  Then download the app from either the Mac App Store or the box.net SimpleShare app page, and after signing in you’re done.

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What Can You With It?

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ScreenCast & Screenshots

If you need to make a quick screencast or screenshot then SimpleShare couldn’t be easier. Just click on the icon, select the function and define the area to record from. Once you’re done, the file will upload and the link will be copied to the clipboard automatically.

Drag & Drop File Uploads

Just drag an item to the menu bar and it will upload ready to share with the world. This works in both Mac and Windows versions.

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History

If you overwrite the link in the clipboard, then the Mac version of the app includes your most recent items one click away in the same menu. On Windows you’ll need to navigate to your online folder to view all your files, so it’s a shame the history feature is only available on Mac.

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Alerts

If you want to track how many people are accessing a certain file, email alerts are turned on by default, or simply view the access count on the file detail page.

Limitations & How It Compares

Free accounts come with 5GB storage and a 25MB file size limit, which should be more than enough for most people and the occasional share.

Inevitably the service must be compared to DropBox, but the services are very different. For a start, SimpleShare is built from the ground up to be about sharing files – the most common share task being one-off files, screenshots and quick screencasts. Dropbox doesn’t include that functionality out of the box, though various apps can interface with it for the same effect.

Previously I also used Jing from TechSmith as a free way to share quick screencast videos, but the interface is appalling so I’m happy to switch to SimpleShare. I was disappointed to find I couldn’t embed the video screencast though – it seems you can only view them using the box.net interface or by simply sharing a link.

The storage limitations are much the same, though Dropbox does have various ways to increase your limit while box.net only offers a simple 2-tier free and premium pricing plan.

I noticed the app also hooks into the standard Mac shortcuts (not sure about Windows though) for screenshots, which is a nice touch but a little alarming if you’re concerned about privacy. You can disable this by using the disable uploads option on the menu, and it won’t affect drag and drop or user invoked actions.

More Apps

SimpleShare is a fantastic desktop app to use with box.net, but there’s also numerous other ways to access your files. With the iPad / iPhone app you can access your shared folder on the move, but unfortunately there’s no way to play your screencast videos (since they are Flash video file format) or upload, as yet. There’s also an Android app available which I’m going to assume *can* play screencasts. While the majority of the other apps appear to be built with business users in mind, there are some browser and CMS plugins that make sharing content quickly even easier.

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Conclusion

Personally I think Box.net SimpleShare sets itself apart from DropBox enough to warrant using both. Dropbox for me is for private sharing and syncing of files with myself or maybe a close friend or business associate – to sync draft articles across devices for instance. SimpleShare I’ll be keeping for public shares, as the one-click / drag and drop interface is fantastic and just so easy to use. I would suggest you turn off email notifications if you plan on sharing something popular though, and concerns for privacy mean I’ll be disabling automatic screenshot uploads, as I use the built-in Mac OSX screenshot functions a lot and would rather not share everything I take with the world. The lack of a Linux version may put off some power users too.

Let us know in the comments if you like the SimpleShare app or know of something similar for DropBox or other services.

  1. Rick
    June 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    You sure this has a free plan? I don't see it anywhere on the site other than a sign up for a free "trial." 

  2. Justin Boyle
    June 22, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    give me linux compatability and we'll talk. 

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