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:
- 3 unique and creative uses for Dropbox, in which Nancy shows you how to play music over Dropbox, create a portfolio and create your own website.
- Four ways to integrate Dropbox into your life: one of the first articles I wrote for this site, this article outlines using Dropbox for torrent downloads, keep your calendar synced, sync your to-do list and sync your gaming.
- 10 uses for Dropbox you may not have thought of, in which Bakari outlines everything from automatically uploading from iOS to using IFTTT hacks to automate your files.
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!