Dropbox: The Basics Plus

Software Developer, Homeopath, Author, Educator
15. Nov 2013

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Dropbox: The Basics Plus

  2.  Virtual storage: store your documents in the cloud  Sync across multiple devices (computer/iPhone/iPad)  Share some or all files and/or some or all folders  Access your docs from any of your devices or the internet  Backups of all files automatically created (30 days only for free)
  3.  Start by going to and enjoying the nice clean interface (scroll down to enjoy it all)  Sign up (create an account)  Download and install the app on each of your devices
  4.  On your computer:  Go to Preferences >Users and Groups >Login Items  Check Dropbox  Any file you put in Dropbox on one device will now automatically syncs to the others in real time.  Any file you edit or change in Dropbox on one device automatically syncs to the others.   You don’t have to ‘do’ anything  It’s reliable – secure – automatic  It is less intuitive than it seems
  5.  Dropbox uses modern encryption methods to both transfer and store your data.  Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption.  Dropbox website and client software are constantly being hardened to enhance security and protect against attacks.  Two-step verification is available for an extra layer of security at login. You can choose to receive security codes by text message or via any Time-Based One-Time Password (TOTP) apps, such as those listed here.  Public files are only viewable by those with a link to the file(s).  Boxcryptor: extra super encryption for all your cloud storage: $48 year
  6.  … is – er – public
  7.  Think carefully which files you are putting there and why.  I only use Dropbox for sharing files or for work/teaching files to replace a usb drive when traveling  Some people just share with themselves (multiple computers)  The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Rule goes into effect very quickly if you copy files from your hard-drive rather than moving them.  Files proliferate – files with the same name  It become difficult (impossible) to manage them, to work out or remember which is the current/latest one  Don’t COPY files into Dropbox – move them there.  Use Dropbox as a mini My Documents
  8.  You are invited or told in many tutorials to upload files to dropbox via the web.  But why bother when you can drag and drop in Finder?  Some people suggest using Dropbox as a hard drive backup.  That’s fine if you have a small-ish hard drive.  My Docs is 63 GB …  Some suggest using Dropbox for Photo albums  They’ll quickly gobble up 2 gigs of free space  Dropbox is just a photo viewer – that’s it – share ‘n’ view  Picasa has way more (free) functionality and space
  9.  Make sure you have enabled Dropbox to start up each time you start your computer.  Don’t use Dropbox in your Browser (online) unless you have to – it’s slow and it can cause confusion more easily.  I only use Dropbox in my browser if I have to  I’m at someone else’s computer  I’m at Kinko’s.  Think of Dropbox as a smart hard drive.  Don’t download files from Dropbox from the internet  They are already on your hard drive.  If they are not then you have a file sharing PROBLEM
  10.  Sharing a folder and sharing a link are NOT the same thing  They should be called different things but they are not so it’s up to you to get smart.
  11.  Go to Finder/Dropbox  Right click on a folder  Share Dropbox Link  This copies a Dropbox link for this Folder to your Clipboard.  Paste into an email or wherever to share a folder  Think of this as a ONE TIME deal  Think of this as SHOWING not sharing
  12.  If you Share a LINK and that person downloads the folder to their Dropbox folder they will now have a folder with the same name and all the same files BUT it won’t be shared  Docs they work on, docs they add or delete – all that work occurs in their Dropbox alone.  Docs you work on, docs you add or delete – all that work occurs in your Dropbox alone.  Nothing is synced
  13.  /  If you get an email invitation to access a Dropbox link, then your sender has got it wrong – don’t click on the link, all you’ll wind up with is a moment-in-time copy.  Ask the sender to delete that link at their end (via the ‘Links’ menu on their home page).  Ask them to try again by using the ‘Sharing’ icon on their Dropbox home page.  If your Dropbox client pops up on screen and tells you someone has shared a folder with you, then – hurray! – you are now sharing and syncing together.
  14.  Go to Finder/Dropbox  Right click on a folder  Share Dropbox FOLDER  This takes you to your browser.  Think of this as A BIG DEAL.
  15.  Open Dropbox in your browser and sign in  Highlight a folder you want to share and a menu appears  Do not click on the name of the folder as that will open the folder  Click Shared folder options (folder with rainbow) to see  All sharing options – who is sharing, to leave the folder or unshare it, to invite people to share etc.
  16.  Name shared folders carefully  Don’t rename folders  Don’t move folders  Don’t rename files - yours or anyone else’s  Don’t move files  Try to avoid working in a file at the same time as someone else – one of you will lose all your work. Temporarily.  Try not to leave a shared file open thinking you’ll work on it later. Open – work – close.  Or advise your collaborator to Keep Out until further notice!
  17.  If you collaborate with others on documents it’s good to see exactly which changes were made.  Don’t panic if a file gets deleted  Your deleted files are saved for just 30 days (unless you have the full/paid version in which case they are saved forever)  Don’t panic if someone writes over what you have done  Your versions have been saved – you just need to know where to find them – and you need to find them within the 30-day period (unless you have the full/paid version)
  18.  Everyone starts out with 2 GB
  19.  Automatically back up your photos from your smartphone  If you want to.  Beware doing this without thinking when asked  When you connect a camera or smartphone to your computer you are prompted to save your photos to Dropbox.  All your photos will transfer to your Dropbox account.  It depends how many photos you have …
  20. If you select ‘Start Import’ by mistake all your photos will load into your Dropbox Folder. Try to avoid this mistake.
  21.  iPhone  Go to Settings  >Camera Upload  >Off iPad  Go to Dropbox  >Settings icon (bottom left)  >Camera Upload  >Off
  22.  There are a number of advanced features and they are developing all the time.  Here are a few …
  23.  Send and receive large files using DROPitTOme (Beta)  With DROPitTOme, you can easily send and receive larger files through your DropBox account. Basically, you setup a unique upload address and can add password protection.
  24.  Uploading music to your Dropbox is simple.  Drag and drop songs into a Music folder in Dropbox.  They will appear on your phone, tablet, and connected computers instantly.  After you have added music to your Dropbox you can easily share it with friends.  Apparently, some people are ditching iTunes in favor of Dropbox. Not sure why especially since audio files are space hogs.
  25.  IF you have the space and just in case you are curious…  Open iTunes and select 'Preferences'  Click on 'Advanced' at the top of the menu  Click 'Change...'  Select your Dropbox folder
  26.  Wordpress Backup to Dropbox is a small desktop application that lives on your computer but backups to the cloud. 
  27.  Using Pancake IO, you can simply create a text file, drop it into the special Pancake folder, and the service will handle all formatting and behind the scenes work that goes into creating and publishing a website.  Updating that site is then as easy as modifying the text file in your Dropbox folder so you can do it from anywhere.  Pancake also supports images, PDFs, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more. 
  28.  Any PDF document in your Dropbox account can be opened in iBooks (or other apps) for easy reading.  Add a PDF to your Dropbox account.  Open the Dropbox app on your iPad and select the PDF file you just added. Depending on the size of the PDF (and your current Internet connection speed) it may take a while for the PDF to load.  Once your PDF has loaded, tap the “Open In” button in the upper right corner of the Dropbox app.  Choose an app & the PDF will automatically open in the app and you can read it with features you did not have before.
  29.  Dropbox can be hacked   TIPs for beginners, intermediates and wizards   Keyboard shortcuts:   Some tips and tricks 