Today I want to talk about one of my favorite programs that doesn’t get enough attention. Dropbox. Dropbox is a file sharing program that runs seamlessly in the background on your computer allowing you to share files across the internet with anyone else who has Dropbox. Dropbox isn’t just for your computer though. If you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android, or blackberry you can download the Dropbox App and sync the files between those devices as well! Let me tell you really quick how Dropbox works before I tell you my 5 favorite ways to use it. When you setup your FREE dropbox account over at Dropbox.com getting you 2Gigs of storage, a new folder will be installed on your computer named (you guessed it) Dropbox. This is a local folder housed on your local drive. You can treat it like any other folder you have on your computer. You can store files, create sub folders etc. The difference between this folder and regular folders is everything that you put in this folder is AUTOMATICALLY synced with your corresponding folder on the Dropbox cloud. This cloud folder syncs with any other device that you have a Dropbox account installed on. So now that you know how it works, let me show you my favorite ways of using it.
My good friend Frank Tuttle expressed to me not too long ago that he wished that there was an easy way to sync his Lightroom catalog between his two laptops and his desktop. My reply was “put it in your Dropbox folder”. Even over the phone I could tell the look on his face… You know the look. The one that says why the heck didn’t I think of that before! Since Dropbox creates a local folder on your drive, you can point Lightroom to that folder to load and save/backup your catalog. This does two things. First, it saves your catalog in a place that is synced automatically with a cloud server, thus backing your catalog up for you in the case of a catastrophic system failure, or natural disaster. Second, if you have Dropbox loaded on another system using Lightroom, you can work on the same catalog on both systems! It’s perfect!
With All of the major mobile devices covered, syncing your Dropbox files to your mobile devices couldn’t be easier. I like to save important PDF’s, photos, and other important documents that I might need to access on my iPhone or iPad. I also used Dropbox to save a HTML copy of my bookmarks from Firefox to load into my mobile browsers. There are some files that you don’t use enough to merit permanent storage on your phone or iPad, but from time to time it would be nice to access them. Dropbox is the perfect place to store them.
Sharing With Friends
Besides my Lightroom catalogs, sharing with friends is probably the way I use Dropbox most. I have what’s called shared folders (folders that show up in both my, and whoever I invite to the folder’s Dropbox as a subfolder) with all of the people that I routinely share files with. Many of you know that I an a contributing writer over at the Best App Site where we review and rate the best iOS Apps available. Terry, Erik, and I are constantly sharing files back and forth so Dropbox is the perfect way to share them. Not only for the speed and ease of use, but because there isn’t a file limit, we can share large files between the three of us, something we wouldn’t be able to do through email. Besides the Best App Site, I share folders with my other photographer friends where I will put images to get their opinion on, model releases from recent shoots that we may have been co-shooters on, and/or any other files that I need to share with them. When Tom Seibert of Light And Pixels designed this website, we used Dropbox folders to send files back and forth. Images, logos, text files, PDF’s, PSD, PNG’s, it doesn’t matter they can all go into Dropbox.
Sharing With The Public
That’s right, with Dropbox you can setup a public folder and give anyone the address to access the files on there. I used this feature when my buddy Don Giannatti came to town last summer to teach a fantastic two day workshop. I was helping Tom Seibert, and Frank Tuttle organize models for the event. I created a spreadsheet with the days and times that we would need models and placed it in the Public folder. This allowed models to quickly look at the spreadsheet to see if they were available for the times that we needed. Another great use for the public folder has to do with the workshop. We had multiple shooters at the event, all of which needed a copy of the model releases. We converted the signed model releases to PDF’s and placed them in the public folder for both models, and photographers to download.
Dropbox offers 2Gigs for free but also has two larger paid options. For $9.99 a month or $99 a year you get 50Gigs of space. For $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year you get 100Gigs of space! The free 2 gigs isn’t really enough to store massive amounts of data, but if you upgrade to one of the two larger options, Dropbox can be a great place to store your important files offsite.
Dropbox is for you..
Dropbox is free, easy to use, and secure. There is really no reason not to have a Dropbox account. I have set my parents up with Dropbox on their laptops just so I can share images with them of their grandchildren. There really isn’t a reason not to have Dropbox.
If you’re reading this blog chances are you’re a photographer or Photoshop user. If you sign up for Dropbox here, and shoot me your email at @Jason@jasonlykinsphotography.com I will add you to a special folder containing my Photoshop actions and (in the future) special Dropbox friend only files tips and tricks.