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Automatically open Bittorrent files using Dropbox and Hazel

TJ Luoma, @tjluoma

Every year there is a torrent made to let listeners download most of the music for SXSW. This year's torrent has recently been posted (previous years' are also available at the same site). I don't usually use Bittorent, so I asked around for client suggestions; Transmission seems to be a favorite among several of my TUAW colleagues.

I also remembered a tip from my friend Guillermo Esteves (who did the awesome Star Wars crawl using only HTML and CSS), about using Dropbox to start torrents remotely. Guillermo provides some detailed instructions for Transmission and µTorrent to set them up to "watch" a folder for new .torrent files, with an important caveat to make sure that you don't download the files to your Dropbox.

One additional Transmission tip: be sure that you un-check the box next to "Display 'adding transfer' options window" so that files will automatically be added, and be sure to check the box next to the "Start transfers when added" option. Guillermo shows both of those settings in his screenshots, but it took me a few minutes to figure out that I had them set incorrectly.

Then I asked myself: "How can I be even lazier?" and I remembered Hazel, a program for automatically moving files from one folder to another based on a set of predefined rules. So I added a Hazel rule for ~/Downloads/ which will move any file where "Kind is BitTorrent Document" to my ~/Dropbox/Torrents/ folder. I repeated this on both my iMac and my MacBook Pro. Now I can be on my MacBook Pro and download a torrent file to ~/Downloads/ and have it moved to my Torrents folder, and have the torrent automatically start downloading on my iMac. So when I'm done with my MacBook Pro I can just close it without having to worry about interrupting any of my downloads.

You may have noticed that we're big Dropbox fans around here. We use it for syncing Things or instead of a USB sync cable or keeping our notes with us or sharing screenshots, along with any number of other uses. Do you know of any other unusual uses for Dropbox? Let us know in the comments.

In the meantime, enjoy the free, legal music downloads from SXSW!

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