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Dropbox: Seamless file upload and sharing

Robert Palmer

I don't know about y'all, but the beta service Dropbox has personally answered my prayers. It's an amazing piece of web software that integrates with the Finder, and allows you to seamlessly copy files up to the web for sharing -- and not use FTP.

Dropbox exists (through some kind of magic, I'm sure) in your home directory as a folder named "Dropbox." There, you can copy files to and from it just as you would any other kind of folder. File copying is pretty perky. A 1MB file took about 15 seconds over my broadband connection. As someone who still cringes at uploading files via the Finder (hi, early .Mac user here), this was a pleasant surprise.

One thing I wasn't expecting was that since the Dropbox folder appears to "live inside" your home directory, the default Finder behavior of moving files (and not copying them, as you might expect) applies. I was still of the FTP mindset that "I am copying files to the internet." So hold down that option key.

Beta accounts of Dropbox include 2GB of storage. (If you need more, SugarSync, OmniDrive, or JungleDisk might be options for you.) You can also add multiple computers to the same account, and have access to a common Dropbox among all of them.

My favorite feature, though, is being able to upload files to a "Public" folder, and have a URL automatically assigned to them. I have a Transmit bookmarklet that already does this (though, it uploads it to my own website), but I have to type out the URL manually. Dropbox's contextual-menu item saves me that trouble, and I can just paste the URL into my email.

Dropbox is still in public beta, so if you know a friend who got a beta signup code, then they got 10 invitations as well. So bring chocolates, flowers, cash, or whatever it takes to get an invitation. They will disappear quickly.

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