Productivity Tip: Sharing files from your iPad using Dropbox

When you have organized your files in a way that makes sense to you and you’ve figured the best way to synchronize your files across devices so that you only work from one version of each file, you will find that feeling of being organized so addictive in a good way! Now you’ll find that your contacts will start to ask you – can you please share that file with me?

The steps to share a file from your iPad are slightly different from the way you would share a document from your Mac or PC. My preference is to email a file link to the recipient directly. Dropbox will generate the file link for you. Here’s a video (4:54 min) to explain.

Or here’s the information written out for you.

Before you can follow the steps, I’m assuming the following items are in place:

  • You have your own Dropbox account – remember, it’s free and when you sign up you first receive 2GB (at the time of writing this post) of cloud-based storage in your own secure account.
  • You are connected to the Internet on your iPad.
  • You have downloaded, installed, and set up the Dropbox app on your iPad. If not, go to the App Store and do this before proceeding.
  • You have placed your source documents within the Dropbox folder that you want to synchronize across devices.

Steps to share a file using Dropbox from your iPad via email:

1)   On your iPad, open the Dropbox application (enter in a passcode if you have configured a passcode to access your files).

2)   Open the file you want to share

3)   Tap the “Share” icon

Dropbox - Sharing Icon on iPad

4)   Select the option called “Email”.

5)   Compose a new email to your contact and send off the email.

Your recipient will have a choice to download the file directly to the machine that they are using when they receive your email or to save the file to their Dropbox account.

Thanks for stopping by! Yours in technology, Susan

Productivity Tip: Access your e-files offline from your iPad

The more I use my iPad, the more I love it.  All my non-confidential files are organized electronically according to my own mental map. And I’ve organized these files within my own personal Dropbox folder. Why? So I can access these files wherever I am, online or offline. Also, then I can share specific folders or files with others when I want to. (Here’s a previous article if you’re new to Dropbox).

To access your electronic files offline from your iPad, you do need to be proactive in your planning in the future use of your electronic files. What do I mean?

Let’s say you will be traveling to Chicago to present at a conference. You have your presentation materials backed up on a memory stick, in hard copy, in your email, and on your iPad. Great! You’re all set, right? Well, what happens if there’s an ISP glitch at the venue and you can’t get online. And you’ve lost your hard copies. And your memory stick is not compatible with the loaner machine that you’ve been given. Since you can’t get online, you can’t access your files in email or on your iPad. Ok, this might be a bit far fetched but you still haven’t put a solution in place to make sure you’ve covered all possible scenarios. Here’s the trick: tag your materials as favorites within the Dropbox app. That way, regardless if you are online or not, you can get to them. Whew!

Here’s a video on how to do this (6:13 min): 

Steps:

1. Have the Dropbox app installed and configured on your iPad (I highly recommend enabling a Dropbox password). This includes setting up a personal Dropbox account.

2. From your desktop machine (whether PC or Mac), move the files and folders that you want to access from your iPad into your Dropbox folder. (You could just copy the files but then you may create versioning woes for yourself down the road.)

3. On your iPad, go into your Dropbox app. Navigate to the file you want to mark for offline viewing.

4. Load the file so that you can see the file contents on your iPad screen. Tap the hollow star icon in the top right (blue bar) to mark that file as a favorite (Dropbox’s terminology). That will change the star display from hollow to filled in.

5. Go to your Favorites pane. Tap the black star icon in the bottom left of your screen and make sure the file is listed in your Favorites list.

You control how many files are listed in your Favorites pane and you can view Favorites files anytime, anywhere, as many times as you like.

To remove a file from the Favorites pane in Dropbox, tap the checkmark icon in the blue title bar. Put a checkmark in the box to the left of the file name (for the file you want to remove from Favorites). Then tap the red Remove button.

Note – by removing a file from Favorites, you are not deleting it from your file system. You are simply removing it from the Dropbox Favorites list which means it will no longer be available to you offline should you need it.

Thanks for stopping by, Susan

How to easily share, back up, and sync your documents across devices

Scenario: One of my clients in Canada, let’s call him Al, just got himself a fancy schmancy smart phone (Samsung Galaxy IIX, an Android phone). Al has a PC in his home office (Sony Vaio) and acquired a 13″ Macbook laptop for travel. Now he needs to figure out how to easily transfer files between devices and make sure he’s only dealing with one version for each file. What’s the easiest solution?

Dropbox, a web-based file hosting service!!

There are many web-based services available to you to share, back up, and sync your files. After using Dropbox personally over 18 months, it’s quickly become my go to, and only,  file management provider. You need to sign up for a free account which will give you 2 GB of free storage in your Dropbox web-based account. If you like Dropbox and recommend it to friends, Dropbox will give you another 250 mb free of storage up to a max of 8 GB of free storage (at the time of writing this posting).

OK, so why is it so good?

  1. Dropbox encrypts your documents on the web using the same security measures that banks use for their online banking.
  2. Dropbox works behind the scenes when you have an Internet connection to transfer any updated or new documents that live in the folder(s) that you have told Dropbox to monitor. This means that you can still access your files when you don’t have an Internet connection (something that other web-based file hosting services don’t permit you to do). Plus if you open and modify a file when you’re offline, the next time you establish Internet connectivity, Dropbox updates your information automatically. Sweet!
  3. AND Dropbox easily lets you share specific folders with others.

Imagine this –  you are collaborating with a few others on an upcoming conference workshop and you need to finalize the outline. You set up a Dropbox folder called “conference workshop”. You share this folder with your colleagues (who also need a Dropbox account – again, it’s free to get). You create a new document called Outline and you put it in the “conference workshop” folder. Almost immediately your colleagues are notified of a new document. Amazing! One of your colleagues opens up the new document, reads the content, makes a small change, and resaves the document. Now you, along with everyone else who shares this folder, are notified of the modified document. Again, amazing! Dropbox makes file sharing so easy! And fun to use!!

Now back to Al. How does Dropbox help him with his situation of multiple devices? By installing Dropbox on his smart phone, on his PC, and on his Mac laptop, whatever documents or photos he puts into his Dropbox folders get immediately synced to his other devices. There’s no need to burn a CD, or save content to a USB stick. Simple and sweet! If Al accidentally loses one of these devices, or heaven forbid, he loses all three in one go, Al can still get access to all the information he put into his Dropbox folders by going to his web-based account on Dropbox. Whew!

Personally I use Dropbox to share, collaborate, and back up important information that I can’t afford to lose. That being said I do not use Dropbox for critical, sensitive information (like banking information, etc) nor do I use it to back up my photos (due to storage limit).  There was a minor breach of Dropbox earlier this year and the company fixed the security breach as soon as they found out about it. But it’s better to be safe and use the file hosting service to your own comfort level. I hope you like it as much as I do and now as much as Al does.