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Our top five Dropbox tricks

Macworld Staff | July 4, 2013
If you asked Macworld editors to name the technologies they can't live without, you'd inevitably hear about Dropbox. This file-synchronization service lets you access your files from anywhere--not just your Mac, iPad, and iPhone, but also any Web browser. It provides easy cloud-based backup, too. But all that's just the beginning. Here are five of our favorite ways to use it:

If you asked Macworld editors to name the technologies they can't live without, you'd inevitably hear about Dropbox. This file-synchronization service lets you access your files from anywhere--not just your Mac, iPad, and iPhone, but also any Web browser. It provides easy cloud-based backup, too. But all that's just the beginning. Here are five of our favorite ways to use it:

1. Share big files
Anyone who passes around photos, videos, or other big files has most certainly discovered the puny file-size limits of most email servers. Dropbox can help. First, make sure you're running the very latest version of the app by downloading it from Dropbox's website. Then, in the Finder, find a file in your Dropbox folder, and Control-click, right-click, or two-finger-click it. In the contextual menu that appears, select Share Dropbox Link. (In older versions of Dropbox, choose Dropbox > Share Dropbox Link.) Select this option to copy a shareable URL for the file in question to your clipboard, ready for pasting into an email message or a chat window. Recipients don't even need a Dropbox account to use links. There's no quicker way to share large files.--Lex Friedman

2. Synchronize app settings across Macs
If you maintain more than one Mac, you know the annoyance of setting up the same app again and again to work just the way you like it. That's where Dropbox can help. Store an app's preferences in Dropbox, and as you make changes to settings on one computer, those settings also get updated on your other computers. Not all apps let you store preferences in Dropbox, but some notable ones do, including AgileBits' $50 1Password (), Running With Crayons' free Alfred () with the £15 Powerpack add-on (about $23), Bare Bones Software's $50 BBEdit (), and Smile's $35 TextExpander (). Once you get used to it, you'll wonder why more apps don't support this great feature.--Dan Moren

3. Share a folder
Need to collaborate with a group of people who use Macs and PCs? Dropbox offers an easy way--the shared folder. First you need everyone to sign up for a free account at Dropbox.com. Then, in the Finder, Control-click (or right-click) on a folder inside your Dropbox folder. In the contextual menu that appears, choose Share This Folder. (In older versions, choose Dropbox > Share This Folder.) Your browser will open to Dropbox.com, and a window will prompt you to type in the group members' email addresses along with a short message for them. Once this is done, the group can add, delete, and edit files in the folder, and the files will stay synced. Since you can access Dropbox through a browser, group members don't need to download any software to participate.--Scholle Sawyer McFarland

 

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