As many of you know, Dropbox is a popular multi-platform file-snyc service that has a popular Android application with more than 6,500 ratings and upwards of 250,000 downloads in the Android market. I was probably late on the Dropbox train, having signed up for the service thanks to the recommendation of a friend a little more than 2 weeks ago. What I’ve found has been a very pleasing and positive experience for a student using more than one machine and more than one platform to access files. Today for you loyal Dropbox users I have a list of Dropbox tips and tricks that should give the way you use the service a whole new flavor! I hope you enjoy.
1. The first tip surrounds portable applications. In Dropbox not only can you store applications and data files, but in a lot of cases you can store applications themselves directly from your Dropbox folder. You can find a list of working applications here and here. Just download them to your Dropbox Folder and you should be able to run these programs straight from there. As an example, you can install and use the portable version of Firefox in Dropbox, which means you can keep all your bookmarks and passwords synced between all your computers.
2. The second tip involves keeping your files encrypted. Reading through the commments/reviews of the Dropbox application on the Android market showed that a lot of people want to keep their folders private or password protected in some way. If you want to keep your Dropbox items secure you can run a portable version of Truecrypt on your Dropbox and keep your folders securely encrypted.
3. Here’s a handy tip you can use on both your computers and your Android device (which I’m sure is a big part of why you’re here). You can sync calendars on multiple computers and devices by saving the valendar file into Dropbox on one cocmputer, then using that same file on your other computers. This way when you update a calendar (maybe you use Thunderbird) on one computer, it will sync almost instantaneously through Dropbox and the calendars on all other devices and computers using that same account will be able to view live changes. You can even set your Google calendar account to use your Dropbox calendar file so that changes appear on your Android phone. Of course you could do all this without Dropbox as the middleman, but it makes it easier when you get to using more than 3 or 4 computers/devices all on different applications (Outlook, Thunderbird, iCal, etc).
4. You can also sync notes and to-do lists using this very similar method. Say you’re taking notes or writing down a to-do list or grocery list for tomorrow on your laptop at home. You go grovery shopping later that afternoon, pull up the Dropbox app for your device, pull down that list and start shopping. See how easy that is? You can save a simple notepad document to your Dropbox to be able to edit it form anywhere, including on the fly from your Android device. I tried this with .doc files and unfortunately you can only view them, not edit them. This would still work in the grocery shopping method though! This works best, however, with simple .txt tiles because your Droid can edit them on the fly and sync them back to your other computers.
5. This last tip has to do with sharing your Dropbox files. This is going to look very similar to Google Docs, although Docs is still waiting for a native Android application. Ever wanted to share a cool .apk you found on the DroidDog website or a document or picture you’d seen and saved on the internet on the go? You can upload it to your ‘Public’ folder of Dropbox, which you get when signing up. Putting files in here makes them available to anyone you want via a link to either a single file or a folder within the ‘Public’ folder. This has been surprisingly useful to me and a friend in the past few weeks. I was comparing ‘Swype’ to the ‘Shapewriter’ keyboard on my Droid, which is not available on the Android market. My friend has a Droid Incredible and wanted to try out the ‘Shaprewriter’ keyboard, which was not available on the Android market, since Swype is not available for the Incredible. I shot the .apk installer right up to my putlic folder on Dropbox and texted him the link provided. It worked flawlessly and he’s enjoying the keybaord to this date. Awesome! (cont.)
Overall, whether you’re a student, a professional, or just a casual consumer you may be surprised by the productivity boosts you can get by installing Dropbox on your Android phone. Try it out if you haven’t already:
Official Dropbox for Android
Partner Apps to get you started
Quick Tip from Droid-Life