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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

DropBox is a "magic pocket" for all your online devices

24

January

Being the Gadget Guy, it should come as no surprise that I currently use a MacBook, a Mac G5 (at the office), an iMac (at home) an iPad and an iPhone. logo.pngThe amount of documents generated on those five devices is enough to make my head spin and keeping everything organized used to be a giant pain. Up until recently, I kept a USB flash drive in my pocket and copied documents to it so I could share them between devices. That didn't really work for the iPad and iPhone, however, so I was constantly emailing myself photos and pdf files. But not anymore! Now I have DropBox.

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The DropBox folks call it a "magic pocket," explaining that once you put something in the pocket it's always there, no matter where you are or how you try to access it. And that's exactly what it is.

After you create a free DropBox account and install the software on your computer at home, a DropBox folder is created on your computer. All documents placed in this folder automatically sync to your DropBox account online and you can access them from the web on any device with web access. But wait, it get better.

Install the software on your computer at work or on your laptop and you get the same DropBox folders on all of them that quickly and almost magically sync each time you add or remove a document. To extend that even further, you can install the software on Blackberries, Androids, iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads to have access to your documents while mobile.

This is incredible! Never before has there been such a seamless way to organize your documents. Check out all the ways I've been using it so far:

  • When working on video stories, I put frame grabs in the Public folder and send a link to story subjects to confirm identifications
  • When traveling, I store pdf files of my travel documents in there so I can quickly access them from my iPhone
  • I put large files in there to share with other people. Once they download the file I delete it
  • I put compressed DVD video files in there so I can watch a movie on my iPhone or iPad without using up storage space on those devices
  • I plan to put family photos in a folder and share it with relatives so they can always have an updated slide show from us

And I'm just getting started! People all over the Internet are coming up with tons of creative ways to use DropBox. Currently I'm looking at a bunch of great ideas on the Ultimate DropBox Toolkit and Guide.

Sharing documents with DropBox is really easy. When you create your DropBox folder, inside is a Public Folder. Right-clicking a document (control-click on a Mac) in the Public folder produces a menu where you can create and copy a link to the document. You then can email or post that link to give people access to the document. You also can create shared folders. Once another DropBox user has been admitted to a shared folder, that folder appears in their DropBox folder and all documents automatically sync to everyone with whom the folder is shared.

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A free DropBox account comes with 2GB of storage and you can upgrade to 50GB or 100GB for a monthly or annual fee. You also can earn up to 8GB of free space by referring friends to sign up.

If you have multiple online devices and need to keep your documents organized and accessible, this is a great solution.

Just to make things fun and show you how easy it is to share files, I have placed a SECRET FILE in my DropBox Public folder. The first ten people to click on the link an identify the SECRET FILE will win a free DropBox account (OK, you can get that anyway) and I will post your name on the Gadget Guy Facebook page telling everyone you were the first ones to get there. Just make a comment here, send me an email or post it on the Facebook page. Ready, set, go!

[Last modified: Thursday, December 29, 2011 2:07pm]

    

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