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For many advanced computer users, Dropbox is the premiere cloud-based storage and sharing document service. It has replaced the Documents folder on my Mac, and is the primary way I sync files between my devices. Similar and equally useful free services include Google Drive and Box.com.
We’ve already covered some awesome uses for Dropbox, including How to Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac], how to send send files to your Dropbox without using Dropbox, how to upload files faster and easier with Dropbox, and even how to host a WordPress blog on your Dropbox account. The following are a handful of other ideas for new and maybe more experienced users of Dropbox.
Get Your Group Dropboxed
If you happen to be the only one on your committee, team, or in your family using Dropbox, then definitely get them on board with a free account. Explain to them what Dropbox is and let them know you’ll be sending out invites to set up an account on their computer. For each user that registers with your invite, you get 500MB more space, up to 16GB.
Just log in to your Dropbox account and click “Get free space!“, followed by “Refer a friend to Dropbox.”
When your group is on board with Dropbox, you can set up a folder that everyone can access and sync to, and they won’t be able to see or access your other Dropbox folders. It’s like having your own in-house file server.
Quickly Link To Any Dropbox File
When you need to share any file in your Dropbox account, simply right- or Control-click on the file, and select “Get Link.” You can share that link with anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. They will not get access to your other Dropbox folders and files, just the one you share a link to. If you want to share a bundle of files, just save and combine them into a zip folder, add the zip file to your Dropbox account, and get the link for it.
Similarly, you can share a link to the special Public folder of your Dropbox, which make its contents available to anyone who has that link or access to your Public folder.
Automatically Upload iOS Photos To Dropbox
Now when you install Dropbox to your iPhone or Android device, you can select to have it upload all existing and/or new photos on your mobile device to a special Camera Uploads folder in your Dropbox account. This upload process takes place each time you launch the Dropbox app on your device. It will even remember which image and video files have already been uploaded and skip them. This is another great way to have an instant backup of your mobile photos.
Instant Photo Gallery
Speaking of photos, Dropbox also offers a way to create a gallery of selected photos from your account. Upload the photos you want to share to the special Photos folder in your Dropbox account. Get and share the link to the folder, and those photos can be viewed online in a Gallery format.
Offline Access To Dropbox Documents
If you’re like me, you probably have added Dropbox to all your other computers and mobile devices. But you might not know that you can also designate particular files for offline viewing. Simply open the document in Dropbox on your mobile device and select the star icon in the menu bar.
This will make the document available under the Favorites menu of Dropbox, and if for some reason your device doesn’t have 3G or Wi-Fi access, you can view it offline.
Manage Dropbox Downloads
If you have Dropbox on a laptop or notebook computer, you might not know that its downloads might be taking up significant space on your internal hard drive, because of all the documents and photos you upload to it. If this is the case, you can launch the Dropbox app on your PC, click on its Preferences > Advanced, and select Change Settings. From there you can deselect folders you don’t want synced to that computer.
This will add space back to your local drive, but those unchecked folders will still be available on your other devices. Dropbox doesn’t download data to your mobile devices; you can only access data from the cloud service of Dropbox on those devices.
Use IFTTT Hacks
If you’re a Dropbox user, it means you’re probably a computer geek, whether you know it or not. So you might as well extend your geekdom to a service called IfThisThenThat. See this article for how to set it up.
Ifttt has an entire Channel of recipes for Dropbox that you will want to look into. Here’s an example. Say you want to keep a list of all your Twitter retweets and replies. There’s an Ifttt recipe that will capture all your retweets and replies and add them to a text file in your Dropbox account. It will actually do all this automatically in the background after you get it set up. Check out the site for dozens of other recipes.
Dropbox To Google Drive
If you’re set up with Dropbox, you might as well add a few more free cloud-based services to your computer and mobile arsenal, such as Google Drive and/or Box.com. They both are very similar to Dropbox.
Once you’re set up with say Google Drive, you can use another Ifttt recipe that will automatically backup any files you drop into your Public Dropbox folder. There’s a similar recipe for sending from your Dropbox to your Box cloud account.
Drafts To Dropbox
There are lots of iOS and Android apps that connect to Dropbox. One of my favorites is a notes app called Drafts ($1.99). When Drafts is launched, it automatically opens a new text document, and whatever I type in the new document can be added to a text file in my Dropbox, or one of a dozen other apps.
I sometimes prefer this approach to syncing text because I don’t want to create a new file in my iPhone Notebook app just for a small piece of text I need to quickly save.
You may not know that Dropbox actually keeps tracks of the changes you make to documents saved to your account. If you need to restore a previous version of a document, log into your online Dropbox account, right- or Control-click on the file, and choose “Previous versions.” Your saved versions are there without cluttering up your internal hard drive.
That’s it for this round of Dropbox tips. Let us know of any other tips and ideas of other uses for Dropbox. Click here for our listing of other Dropbox related articles.