Tag Archives: Dropbox

How to send your Android device’s photos to Apple iPhoto with Dropbox

android-logoA friend of mine recently got his first smartphone, and it happens to be an Android phone. He asked me how he could get his photos and video off of the phone and into iPhoto on his Mac. I had no idea, so I told him to try to connect the phone to the Mac via USB and see if it shows up in iPhoto like a camera. Unfortunately, that would be too easy and did not work.

The Dropbox solution

After researching the problem on the Internet I determined that the easiest method would be to use Dropbox and its automatic photo upload feature.

Step 1: Install Dropbox on your Mac

Before getting started you need to have a Dropbox account, if you don’t have one already. An account is free and comes with 2GB of storage (with ways to get more free storage through referrals and more). You then need to download and install Dropbox onto your Mac. The application will download automatically when you set up an account. You will need you login information when you install Dropbox on the computer.

Step 2: Install Dropbox on your Android phone and enable automatic photo uploads

Once the account is set up and Dropbox is installed on your Mac, you will want to install the Dropbox app from Google Play on your phone. Once installed on your phone, open the app and follow the steps to set it up using your account information. At one point in the setup you will be given the option to turn on the ability to automatically upload photos from your phone to Dropbox. You want to do this. There will also be an option to only enable this feature over WiFi. If you are on a limited data plan you will want to use the WiFi only option. Uploading photos uses data and you do not want to burn up your plan sending photos to Dropbox. Let the phone do this when you are connected to WiFi instead. If your plan is unlimited the choice is up to you, since you don’t have to worry about a data limit.

Once you complete this step, the phone will begin uploading the images already on your phone to your Dropbox account to a folder called Camera Uploads. It will also automatically upload any photo and video you take to Dropbox from this point forward.

Now you want to go back to your Mac and open your Dropbox folder . The easiest way to do this is to go to the Dropbox icon in your menu bar and click “Dropbox Folder.” The folder will open and you should notice a folder called Camera Uploads. This is the same folder that the phone is not loading your photos and videos into. If you open it you should see all of you content appearing.

dropbox

Step 3: Add your photos to iPhoto

Now you have to get those photos into iPhoto. To do this make sure you are in the Dropbox folder. Drag and drop the Camera Uploads folder to iPhoto in your dock. All of the content in the folder will be placed into an event in iPhoto and you are free to edit and share from iPhoto.

Step 4: Manage your limited Dropbox space

There is one final and important step. Your Dropbox account is not unlimited storage. You want to empty the Camera Uploads folder each time you import into iPhoto and free up that space. To do this open your Camera Uploads folder and choose “Select All” from the Edit menu. Next choose “Move to Trash” from the File menu. At some point you will want to empty the trash, but that is not required right now. This will empty the folder and free up that space. Keep in mind that this only deletes the photos from your Dropbox account. It does not delete them off the phone.

If you followed these steps correctly you are set and able to take photos and video off your Android phone and import them into iPhoto thanks to some help from Dropbox.

Dropbox Links: A New Way to Share Dropbox Files

As the realm of cloud-based file storage grows in popularity, so too does the needs of its users.  The people of Dropbox understand this, and are always adding new features to improve the experience.  (Never heard of Dropbox?  Don’t worry, we here at Techerator have you covered.)  This time around, Dropbox has added a simple, yet worthwhile option to enhance the user file sharing experience, and it’s called sharing links.

Yes you heard right; Dropbox is allowing users to share links now.  Here’s why: Originally, files and folders on Dropbox were shared with others via an internal “share” button.  This means that they were shared and synced only between Dropbox users.  But now with this new share link function, a file or entire folder can be sent out and accessed by anyone who has the proper link.

The Link Sharing Process

The link sharing process begins by logging into one’s Dropbox account through the browser, the file explorer program, or the mobile app.  Select a file or folder for distribution and click the “Share Link” option.

dropbox share link

A pop up box asks for intended recipients and a message to send to them.  Note that this sharing function is not limited to email; Facebook and Twitter sharing are also supported.  Once complete with composing a message, click “Send” to…well, send the link out into the world.

dropbox sharing

dropbox email

Once the recipient clicks the Dropbox link in the sent message, the file or folder that was shared should appear and provide full viewing access regardless if they have a Dropbox account or not.

dropbox view link copy

Features of the Shared Link

A few options exist to the user for viewing/using the shared Dropbox files and folders.  The standard method for file viewing is through the web browser interface.  Photos, videos, and even Microsoft Office documents can be clicked and previewed with little effort.

download files from link
Share the file again (the chain icon thing) or save it to your computer (the cog icon thing)

If the recipient decides they need a shared file beyond browser viewing, Dropbox allows them to either pass the link along (note that each file in a shared folder has its own personal link as well) or to download the file to their local machine.

Conclusion

File sharing no longer has to be difficult.  Thanks to Dropbox links, there’s no more messy file compression, no more large attachments for emails, and most important of all: no more USB thumb drives.  Just link and send it out.

BitTorrent takes on Dropbox with new file-sharing service

It seems that everyone is planning an Operation Overthrow against popular file synching service Dropbox. Earlier this week, it was Insync. This time, the newest member to join the movement is BitTorrent, Inc. with their new desktop app simply dubbed Share. The service allows you to transfer any type of files to anyone with no size limit to weigh you down.

The process is easy and straightforward. After installing and firing up the application, add files by dragging-and-dropping or by browsing for them. Then, enter in your email address, as well as the recipient’s email address (you can have more than one recipient). You can also connect to Facebook and add your friends that way.

After you send the file, the recipient will receive an email letting them know about the file(s) and how to get the Share app (if they don’t already have it).

Your account will automatically be created after you send your first file share and the next window is a list of all the files that you’re sharing and information on who its shared with, etc. Users don’t have to be online at the same time to send and receive files, since they’re cached in the cloud and once the files have sufficiently been shared by peers, they’re taken off the cloud to make room for future files transfers.

Share is clearly still in its early alpha stages, but it will eventually be integrated into the popular BitTorrent client uTorrent, adding even more features to the lightweight program. Currently, Share is only available on Windows, but will be available on Macs via uTorrent in the future.

A free, unlimited file-sharing service this easy simply cannot go ignored. It’s a fantastic alternative to anyone who doesn’t want to get their hands dirty with true BitTorrent and makes sharing larger files a breeze.

Insync integrates with Google Docs to take on Dropbox

After well over a year of being in closed beta, Insync has finally released to the public. If you’re not familiar with the service, it closely resembles other cloud-storage services, in that a folder you create is automatically synced to the cloud for backup and/or sharing purposes, but a few minor differences separate it greatly from its competition.

First off, Insync uses Google Docs as its storage medium, but this doesn’t limit the filetypes you can use to only documents. I had no problem uploading images and even a ZIP file. They both showed up in my Insync account, as well as in my Google Docs. So essentially, Insync turns the Google Docs web app into a folder on your local computer and automatically syncs between the two whenever a file is altered. It’s great for when you’re wanting a little more out of a word processor than what Google Docs offers, since you can use whatever office suite you have on your computer to edit Google Docs documents.

Storage costs of Insync are all through Google, so you get 1GB free and then you can add storage for a small cost: $5/year for 20GB, $20/year for 80GB, $50/year for 200GB, etc. (up to a whopping 1TB). Compared to the cost of additional space on Dropbox, which is $50/year for 50GB and $100/year for 100GB, Insync is quite cheaper than Dropbox if purchasing additional storage is up your alley.

Sharing abilities is very fine-tuned in Insync. You’re able to change the level of control someone has over a file that you share with them, including whether or not they can re-share the same file that you originally shared with them. However, I feel Insync’s web interface is too minimalistic. It doesn’t have as many options and features as Dropbox’s web interface, including the ability to simply delete files.

In the end, if you’re wanting more storage out of a cloud service than what’s offered for free, Insync looks to be a good bet over Dropbox. But as far as functionality and features go, Dropbox is still the real winner.

Dropbox Hits 50 Million Users and Raises $250 Million

Dropbox, the easy-to-use cloud storage that we all know and love, just reported that it has reached 50 million users, which is up threefold from this time last year. The company also reached a whopping $250 million in series B financing and expects to reach $240 million in revenue by the end of the year. Not bad for a start-up company that launched its service just two years ago.

Dropbox says that those 45 million users are saving over 1 billion files every three days. 96% of these users don’t pay a single penny for the service, but that’s expected to change, since a lot of them are zipping right through the free 2GB of storage and upgrading to either the 50GB plan for $10 a month or 100GB for $20.

One of the company’s biggest competitors, Box.net, has reached $81 million in revenue. This is the same company that is currently stirring the cloud storage pot by enticing iOS users with 50GB of free storage.

However, it’s Apple’s iCloud that is really looking to take away from Dropbox’s market share. At first, Apple wanted to buy out the San Francisco-based company for an undisclosed nine-digit figure back in 2009, but Dropbox rejected the offer. Steve Jobs called Dropbox a “strategic asset,” but also told Dropbox CEO Drew Houston that his service was “a feature, not a product.” When Houston rejected Jobs’ offer, the former Apple CEO and co-founder had no choice but to warmly smile and tell Houston that he’s going after his market. Whether iCloud will put a dent into Dropbox is yet to be determined, but these next couple years should be a doozy for the cloud storage wars.

Dropbox hasn’t disclosed it’s official worth, but it’s estimated that the company is valued at around $4 billion.

Dropbox currently only has 70 employees, which makes the company’s revenue-per-employee more than Google’s.

3 Great Alternatives to Dropbox

Hard driveWhen it comes to sharing and syncing files, the most popular tool out there is arguably Dropbox. It’s a favorite among the folks here at Techerator and for good reason. Dropbox is easy to use and gives you a lot of flexibility.

But Dropbox isn’t the only file sharing/syncing program available on the web. There are other tools that are definitely worth a look. Let’s take peek at three of them.

SugarSync

Arguably the best alternative to Dropbox is SugarSync. It does everything that Dropbox does, and probably a little more too.

If you use a Windows computer or a Mac, you can install a client that will automatically sync files across all of your computers (well, as long as you have the client installed). You can selectively sync folders and even choose which ones you want to sync with other computers, and which ones you want to back up to SugarSync’s web interface. Using the web interface, you can create folders and upload or download files.

You’re not limited to the desktop or web, either. There are SugarSync clients for iOS devices, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian.

You can get a free account which gives you 5 GB of storage. Or you can get 30, 60, 100, or 250 GB of storage for between $4.99 and $24.99 a month.

Uploading to SugarSync

Amazon Cloud Drive

Released in Spring 2011, Amazon Cloud Drive is something of a bare bones service. It’s purely storage; there’s no syncing. But as a storage solution it’s hard to beat.

You get a web interface (there’s no desktop or mobile client) that’s simple to use. Just log in, create a folder if you need one, and then upload your files. You can only upload files that are 2 GB or smaller, though. Once you’ve done that, you can access your files from anywhere using any web browser.

You get 5 GB of free storage, and you can get anywhere from 20 GB to 1,000 GB of storage for between $20 and $1,000 a year.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Ubuntu One

Part of the Ubuntu desktop for the last few releases, Ubuntu One lets you sync directories on your Ubuntu desktop with a web-based storage system. What’s that? Not an Ubuntu user? That’s OK. You can still upload you files using Ubuntu One’s web interface and access them on any computer.

Ubuntu One is easy to use and has a couple of interesting features. You can store your contacts and write and share notes online. You can also upload your music and stream it later. Ubuntu One provides 5 GB of storage free, or 20 GB for $2.99 a month. If you use an Android device, you can share and sync your files with the Ubuntu One Files app. On top of that, there’s a paid option that lets you upload and stream your music to your Android device or iPhone.

Ubuntu One web interface

Have a favorite alternative to Dropbox? If so,  share your pick by leaving a comment.

Photo credit: Szorstki

Greplin: Your Personal Search Engine

GreplinIf you use more than a couple of web applications, you know how difficult it can be to find things in those applications. Sure, services like Google Docs and Gmail have great built-in search, but services like Dropbox and Twitter … well, not so much.

With Greplin, you can search a number of popular web applications not just for files, but also words and phrases.

Let’s take a look at how to set up and use Greplin.

Getting Started

Head over to Greplin and sign up for an account. It’s free, although there are paid options (more on these in a bit). Once you’re in Greplin, click the Add button — it’s the green button with the plus sign in the middle. A list of Web applications and services that Greplin works with will appear.

Choose your service

At the moment, Greplin only works with 20 apps and services. To work with nine of those, you need to get a paid account. With three others, you can get access by referring other people to the service. So that leaves you with Gmail, Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts.

Searching with Greplin

You won’t be able to search immediately. Greplin has to index your accounts first. According to the developers, that takes about 20 minutes or so. Maybe a bit longer. So, go off and do some work or have a cup of tea while you’re waiting.

Search here

OK, let’s assume that 20 minutes have passed. Head back over to Greplin and start searching. The first way is to type the word or phrase that you’re looking for in the search box. Doing this will search all of the applications and services that you set up in Greplin for that term. That could be a lot of results.

To narrow things down a bit, click the dropdown list beside the search box. You can search:

  • The names of contacts
  • In your Twitter streams
  • Messages in Twitter and Facebook
  • Files

You can also select the any one of the applications and services that you set up to work with Greplin.

The results of a search

Once Greplin returns the results, click on any header to open that result in a new browser tab or window.

Limitations

There are a few. The biggest is the limited number of services with which Greplin works. It tackles 20 of the biggest names, but a few are missing. And to get access to about half of them, you need to pay $4.99 a month (or $49.99 a year). That’s not overly expensive, especially if you need to index and search a lot of material.

What you can search depends on the web application or service. With Dropbox, for example, Greplin doesn’t index and search text. It only indexes and searches file names. So if you plan to use Greplin as a search engine for Dropbox, remember to name your files descriptively. You can find a list of what Greplin can search here.

Still, if you need to find that tweet or that file you’ve archived online, then Greplin is a good option. It’s easy to use and fast. And it’s convenient.

Let Anyone Send Files to Your Dropbox with JotForm

Let’s say a family member or close friend wants to show you vacation pictures, but 1) There are too many files and 2) Even when zipped, the file size is too large to attach in an email. You suggest they sign up with Dropbox, a free way to sync and share files across any computer. The trouble is, your friend or family member is too stubborn to sign up for a free account (who doesn’t love free?!).

There just so happens to be a web service that gives anyone the ability to send a file directly to your Dropbox. It’s called Dropbox Forms, made by Jotform who provides a wide variety of web form creation tools.

It’s a completely free service with the option to upgrade to premium plans with more available space. However, the free version only allows a max of 100 MB, which was a problem for me right off the bat since I needed to request a 125 MB audio file from a fellow group member in one of my college courses. If you plan on working with files less than 100 MB, you should have no problem.

When you arrive to the Dropbox Forms homepage, simply click “Create a Dropbox Form” to get started. You’ll then need to allow the service to access your Dropbox account. Once that’s finished, you can start creating your form. You have two options for this: Either a direct link to a form hosted on JotForm’s website or embed the form on your own site.

Whenever someones uses the form to send a file your way, it will automatically sync to your Dropbox where you can easily access it!

Another similar service is AirDropper. I found this to be a little more feasible since there isn’t a cap on file sizes. You also have two choice for forms, but it’s a little different from how JotForm does it. You can either create a one-time, one-use form or create a reusable form with a password required. However, AirDropper isn’t a free service. It’ll cost you $12 a month after the 7-day free trial, which is a little more than the $10/month JotForm charges for a premium plan.

Dropbox: Going Beyond Storage

Do you use Dropbox? If you don’t, you really should give it a look. If you do, chances are you aren’t using it to its full potential.

What is that supposed to mean? Well, Dropbox is for more than just storing and synchronizing files across your various computers and devices. You can use it to do a whole lot more.

Curious? Then read on.

DropTunes

A few months ago, Amazon came out with Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. They’re an interesting duo. Cloud Drive lets you store files online, and you can store any MP3s that you buy from Amazon in Cloud Drive. With Cloud Player, you can listen to those files anywhere.

But who needs them when you have Dropbox? By combining Dropbox with a free service called DropTunes, you get just about everything that Cloud Player offers.

DropTunes is an online media player that connects to your Dropbox account. All you need to do is upload some music files to Dropbox, log into DropTunes, navigate to the Dropbox folder that holds your music, and click Play.

DropTunes in action

DropTunes has two interfaces: Flash and HTML5. Using the Flash interface (which is the default), you can only play MP3s. Using the HTML5 interface, you can music in the following formats: MP3, Ogg, Wav, and m4a.

TextDrop

Everyone takes notes. We all jot down ideas, quotes, snippets of information, URLs, to do lists, all of that sort of thing. But the way in which we do it is kind of inefficient — everything is scattered across devices or in paper notebooks or on scraps of paper. TextDrop eliminates all of that, and makes what you’re jotting down available to all of your computers and devices.

TextDrop is simply a Web-based text editor that works with Dropbox. You just connect the two, and start typing. When you’re done, you can save what you’ve written in any folder in Dropbox. It’s that simple.

Writing with TextDrop

But TextDrop isn’t just for notes. You can use it for just about anything you write. I haven’t run into a size limit for notes, or anything else. In fact, the skeleton of this post was written using TextDrop.

DropPages

Ever wanted to create your own Web page, but didn’t want the hassles of learning HTML (the language Web pages are written in), buying a domain, and paying for hosting? DropPages helps get rid of those headaches.

Setting up Dropbox and DropPages to play together takes a bit of work. First, you need to create a folder in Dropbox that will act as your domain — for example, scottnesbitt.droppages.com. Then, go to the DropPages site and download a theme. The themes are the basic designs for your Web site, which come in a zip file. Extract that zip file into the Dropbox folder that you created.

From there, share the folder with this email address: server1.droppages.com. You can learn more about the whole process here.

It takes a while before your Web site becomes active, but eventually you’ll get something like this:

A site made with DropPages

The only drawbacks to DropPages are that 1) there aren’t that many themes available, and 2) to modify the pages in a theme you need to learn Markdown, a simple way of adding formatting to content for the Web. Luckily, Markdown is fairly easy to learn.

Final thoughts

Dropbox is for a lot more than just storing files. And the apps that you just read about are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to extending the power of Dropbox. You can find a list of more here.

Do you use Dropbox? What services and utilities, if any, do you use with it? Share your favorites by leaving a comment.

How To: Import E-Books Into Aldiko for Android Using Dropbox

It’s been nearly a year since I last wrote about Aldiko, and while the E-book market on Android has exploded since then I still consider Aldiko to be the best reader out there. E-book powerhouses like Amazon and Barnes and Noble have both launched reader applications of their own, but they both lack a seemingly critical feature: the ability to import your own E-books to read.

Luckily for you, Aldiko does exactly that.

In previous versions of Aldiko E-book importing was a bit of a hassle. The books had to be put in a specific folder on the SD card or the application wouldn’t even recognize they existed. A few months ago, though, Aldiko got a brand new interface, and with it came easier book importing. By combining this awesome new update with the power of Dropbox, it’s not even necessary to connect your device to your computer to import books!

Initial Setup

To get started, you’ll first want to ensure that the book you’re importing is in the correct format as Aldiko will only accept books of the EPUB variety. If your book isn’t already in the EPUB format, it can easily be converted using Calibre which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The next step is to sign up for Dropbox if you don’t already have an account. Dropbox is a free service that lets you sync files across multiple platforms, including Android.

After getting your computer set up with Dropbox, go ahead and move the E-book you want to import to the Dropbox folder. Once it syncs, head on over to your Android device.

Importing the Book Into Aldiko

If you haven’t already, go ahead and download the Dropbox client for Android. Once you’ve signed in, you should see the E-book you moved earlier. Long press on it and select ‘Download’.

Once the book finishes downloading, switch over to Aldiko. If you aren’t already on Aldiko’s home screen, hit the Options button and select ‘Home’. From here you should see a button for SD card. Once in the SD card you’ll want to look for the folder labeled ‘dropbox’. You should now see the book you want to import, so go ahead and select it and choose ‘Import to Aldiko’.

That’s it! You can click on the book right now to start reading, or access it from the shelf view later. Happy reading!

Aldiko comes in both a free and paid version, both available on the Android Market. Download the free version by scanning the QR code below, or find it here on the web version of the Market.