How to Share Files with An Online Team Using Dropbox

dropbox_logoWant to share files of any kind, even very large ones, with friends, or between two or more of your own computers?  Dropbox will probably be your best tool for the job.  You can join Dropbox for free, and get extra storage space for every new customer who registers with them following your invitation.  Here’s how Dropbox works:

Installing Dropbox

First of all, you go to Dropbox.com and register.  This entitles you to two gigs of storage on their servers.

You then download and install the Dropbox app for your computer, which allows you to create a kind of mirror for the online interface with Dropbox.  An icon for the Dropbox app shows up in your task bar (on Windows), or in the top bar on Macs.  When you click on that app icon it opens a window which shows the contents of your storage space on the Dropbox server.  To upload files to that server you just drop their icons into the window you just opened.  They automatically upload once you drop them in.

Using Dropbox to Tranfer Files Between Your Own Computers

If you own more than one computer you can install the Dropbox app on all of them, and tie the app to the same Dropbox account.  This allows you to transfer files from one computer to another very easily.  For example, say I’m working on my laptop and I create a large video file that I want to transfer to my desktop computer.  It’s too large to transfer by email, but I can use Dropbox for the job.  I double click on the Dropbox icon in my laptop’s task bar.  This opens the contents of my Dropbox account.  I drop the video file into that window.  The video automatically uploads to the Dropbox server.  Then I go to my desktop computer and double click on the Dropbox app icon in the task bar.  Again, a window opens showing the contents of my Dropbox account.  I see the icon of the video file which I just uploaded.  I drag it to my desktop.  This moves the file off the server to the Desktop of my desktop computer.  Couldn’t be easier!  (It’s certainly much easier than trying to network my local computers over a Local Area Network.)  Despite Microsoft’s attempts at making networking easy, it still isn’t!

Sharing Dropbox Files With Your Online Team

I find that Dropbox is a great tool for a team of persons working on a project together, particularly if the files they want to exchange are large ones.  Here’s how I would set up the arrangement for team sharing:

  • First I need to get my team members registered.
  • I’d double click on the Dropbox icon in my task bar and select “Launch Dropbox website.”
    Then at the top of the page I would click on “Get Free Space,” and then “refer friends to Dropbox”.  This brings up a page where I will invite anyone on my team who is not already a member to join Dropbox.  For each of them who registers I will receive 500 MB more free storage at Dropbox.
  • Now, let’s say I want to collaborate with my team members to make a video about a mission project.  We will need to be sharing video clips and still photos in .jpeg format. Below are the remaining steps:
  • I would double click on the Dropbox icon in my task bar.
    Then I would click on “Launch Dropbox website”.
    In the left margin of the next page, I would click on the “Sharing” link next to the rainbow icon.
    Then I would click on the “new shared folder” button at the top of the page.
    I would give a name to this new folder.  Let’s call it “Mission Video Resources.”  I would type in that name and click the “next” button.
  • Then I would type in the email addresses of my team members.
  • If some are brand new to Dropbox I would type in a brief message to them, explaining that when they respond to the email they will gain access to the shared “Mission Video Resources” folder, and that an icon of that folder will automatically turn up in the window which opens on their computer when they double click on the Dropbox icon in their task bar.
  • They will not only see the files that I have dropped there, but they can drop files into that folder too, and the files will be uploaded to the server so that other team members can see them.  Dropbox keeps all uploads updated, so that persons accessing the shared folder from their own computers see the latest version of the content.

Moving and Copying Dropbox Files

Keep in mind that when you drag a file’s icon from a Dropbox folder to your own computer, you move that file, which takes it off the server.  It then disappears from the team’s shared folder.  So, if you just want a copy of a file and don’t want to remove it from the server, right click on it and press the Ctrl and C keys (for Windows users); Command plus C (for Macs).  This copies the file to your clipboard.  Then click on your Desktop and press the Ctrl and V keys (for Windows),  Command plus V (for Macs).  This pastes the file onto your Desktop.

Dropbox Newcomers:  Take a Tour!

If you’re a newcomer to Dropbox, you might want to click on the “get started” link at the website to take a tour.

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