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eBooks, Remote Control & Other Creative Uses For Dropbox That You Haven’t Thought Of

Do you think you've thought of every possible use for Dropbox? You haven't. Neither have I.

Writers like me will never get sick of dreaming up new ways to use Dropbox, because this seemingly simple tool can be used to accomplish so much. It's a program that provides a simple service – sync a particular folder on your computer with all of your other computers and a web service. But you can use this to trigger actions on other computers, keep a copy of your favorite software ready on other machines, sync your entire eBook library and much, much more.

Here are just a few ideas that changed the way I use Dropbox; maybe they'll change the way you use it too. And as always, fill me in with your ideas below.

Always Have Access To Your Portable Apps

Whether you've downloaded everything from our list of the best portable apps or have your own carefully crafted collection, Dropbox is a convenient way to access your collection from any computer you own. Just keep your favorite portable apps in your Dropbox and you'll have access to them everywhere.

Even better, in many cases your settings will sync, meaning you can use your program on one computer just as you set it on another.

Sync Your eBook Library

Have access to your eBook collection, everywhere. If you use Calibre to manage your eBook collection, good news – with Dropbox you can keep your library in sync everywhere, easily. It won't work for proprietary, DRM-based ebook apps like Kindle or Nook but it's perfect for your open books.

The amount of space Dropbox provides probably isn't massive enough for your music collection and certainly isn't enough for your videos, but you'd be surprised how many eBooks you can fit into your Dropbox without trouble. Sync your entire Calibre library folder and your settings and metadata will follow.

Read more about combining Dropbox and Calibre here, if you're interested.

Also noteworthy, this provides you with an easy way to access your eBooks on your tablet or smartphone. Simply download the EPUB files from your Dropbox app and import them to your e-reading app of choice.

Monitor Your Computer Remotely

Do you want to know what's going on with your computer while you're away? Why not set up a program to take screenshots every minute and save them to your Dropbox? This simple trick lets you watch what's happening on your machine, useful in case of theft.

Labnol outlines the process for Windows here, which requires a download and a simple Autokey script.

Bonus idea – set up a webcam with an open window and you've got a makeshift security camera.

Sync Any Folder On Your Computer

We all know Dropbox syncs the Dropbox folder, but did you know you can set it up to sync any folder on your computer? The Dropbox wiki outlines the process for Windows, Mac and Linux, including several tools including. For more information, check out this article on how to use symlinks to sync any folder with Dropbox.

Do you want to sync your desktop? Check out the Dropbox wiki article on syncing your desktop for specific advice.

Make Last Second Changes to School Assignments

Your professor requires you to send in your essay by midnight, but will she really look at it then? If you're skeptical, and need a few extra hours to make edits, share a link to your essay on Dropbox instead of emailing it to her directly. Any changes you make will automatically be updated, so assuming she downloads it the next day you'll be able to make the deadline while still making corrections (via Lifehacker).

Host a Website

Why not? With Dropbox you can offer public access to any file, including an HTML document. It's easy to use this to build and host a quick website, as outlined on the Dropbox wiki. Whether you want to build yourself a custom homepage or test your HTML skills, this is a great way to quickly get something onto the web.

I, personally, used this to create a page for quickly accessing articles and information on my Kobo e-reader:

(The NHL Scores section just depresses me. I don't know why I haven't deleted it #firebettman).

Come to think of it, Dropbox is also a great way to directly share any photo or text document. Just remember: add ?dl=1 to the end of any file you want to share directly; without that, users will be taken to a download page for the file.

Print Files From Anywhere

Use Dropbox to print files from your mobile phone. You'll need to set up a folder in your Dropbox that sends files to a print queue, then add files to that folder when you want something printed. It requires you to have a computer at home that's turned on and connected to your printer, but it's an interesting idea.

Read more on the Dropbox wiki (Windows only, though I'm sure clever people could find workarounds).

But Wait, There's More!

Are you looking for more? We've published articles listing uses for Dropbox in the past. Here are just a few:

Do you want even more? Check out the tips and tricks page on the Dropbox wiki or the comments below. I'm certain readers will share their ideas. Let's keep growing the list!

Redesigned and Expanded Third Street Promenade Apple Store Opens in Santa Monica, CA

Apple has opened its new Third Street Promenade Apple Store in Santa Monica, CA. The store has the same design as the new Palo Alto location, with a slightly smaller implementation as the Upper West Side store in Manhattan.

Apple's old Third Street Promenade location was one of the early Apple Stores and was an extremely popular location that was almost always crowded to capacity. The new store should allow considerably more foot traffic.

Apple proposed the new store to the Santa Monica planning commission more than a year ago, with the new building gaining approval without so much as a discussion.

Thanks David!

Add Bold, Underline, & Italics to Stylize Text in iOS Mail

Style text in iOS Mail

Stylizing text with bold, underline, or italics in the iOS Mail app is easily done with the same tap-and-hold contextual menu that also allows you to select text, block quote, and insert photos. To access the text styling menu:

  • Tap and hold on any text in Mail app, choose "Select" and adjust the sliders to the text you want to select
  • Tap the "B I U" button to reveal the text styles (you may need to tap the > arrow button to reveal the option if device is in portrait orientation)
  • Choose either "Bold", "Italics", or "Underline"
  • Repeat to apply additional styling

Make text bold, italic, or underline in iOS Mail

As you probably guessed, this litte-known trick works the same in Mail on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Technically the stylize feature appears in a few other places in iOS too, but we're focusing on the Mail app because this feature is universally supported there, whereas apps like Notes do not yet support it. This could be new from iOS 6 onward, I don't have an older iOS device handy at the moment to give it a try and find out for sure.

We covered a handful of helpful typing tips for iOS and somehow missed this one, thanks for sending in another great tip Mithilesh!

TwelveSouth releases a version of its popular BookBook case for the iPad mini

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 5.35.40 PM

TwelveSouth has announced and released an iPad mini-compatible version of its popular BookBook case. The case, which we recently reviewed for the iPhone 5 and full-sized iPad, is akin to a vintage style book. It comes in black, brown, and red. It sells for $69.99. We really enjoy the case for our other iDevices, and we're looking forward to reviewing the iPad mini version.

iPhone 5 Launches in 33 New Countries Including China

In line with its announcement from earlier this month, Apple today launched the iPhone 5 in 33 new countries, with the most prominent member of the group being China.

Unlike the chaos that reigned at the iPhone 4S launch earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reports that the iPhone 5 appears to have been quite subdued. It is unclear, however, how much of the change may be due to lack of interest and how much may have been related to snowy weather and changes in Apple's sales policies designed to reduce scalping and other factors that have led to problems at previous launches.
Friday's iPhone 5 launch was notable for a different kind of white: a rare accumulation of fresh snow that blanketed the nearly empty plaza outside the Sanlitun store.

At 8 am on Friday, when the store opened to hurrahs from employees, only two consumers stood inside a cordon set up by Apple, though they were joined by a desultory snow man someone had made on a bench near the entrance.
Apple's new sales policies require customers to enter a lottery for the right to purchase an iPhone in the store, with winners being given specific windows of time in which to pick up their devices.

Fortune has also collected a handful of videos showing launches in China, Malaysia, and the Philippines that were part of today's major rollout in the following countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ecuador, Grenada, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Next iPad Mini to Have Retina Display?

While critics loved the iPad mini, the biggest complaint concerned the device's screen, which does not have a Retina resolution like Apple's larger iPad.

Retina seems like a logical update for Apple's second generation iPad mini, and a report from Digitimes today says that Apple is indeed planning to increase the resolution of its next iPad mini.
Apple's next-generation iPad mini will focus mostly on enhancing the device's display resolution, according to Taiwan-based backlighting industry sources.

The sources have yet to specify whether the device will use Apple's Retina Display technology to enhanced resolution, but market observers said it is highly likely based on the development of past Apple products such as the iPhone and 9.7-inch iPad series.
Adding a Retina display to a device as thin as the iPad mini could be a tricky prospect, possibly requiring a large battery and a more robust processor, as it did when Apple introduced the Retina display to the full-sized iPad. This restriction has led notable technology site AnandTech to predict that the next iPad mini won't come with a Retina display, as stated in the site's iPad mini review.

Digitimes adds that the next generation 9.7-inch iPad will be lighter due to new LED light bar technology that will incorporate just one light bar instead of the two that are currently in the third and fourth generation iPads. While Digitimes has had a mixed record in the past, it's clear that they do have sources in Apple's supply chain.

Apple Names 'Day One' and 'Deus Ex: Human Revolution' Best in Mac App Store [Mac Blog]

Alongside the Best of 2012 for the iOS App Store, Apple also released its nominations for the best app and game of the year in the Mac App Store yesterday.

Journaling app Day One was named App of the Year, while Deus Ex: Human Revolution Ultimate Edition took the Game of the Year award.

Photography app CameraBag 2 was named runner-up for app of the year, and Splice: Tree of Life was the second place game.

Apple also compiled a list of the Best Apps of 2012, which includes titles like Tweetbot, Clear, and Things.

Apple's list of Best Games of 2012 includes apps like Bastion, Pocket Planes, and Limbo.

This is the second year that the Mac App Store has existed, and the second year that Apple has chosen the best Mac Apps. Last year, Pixelmator and Civilization V were Apple's top picks.