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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Hi, this is Jess Stratton and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. Dropbox is a cloud app that offers file synchronization and storage, photo backup, sharing, and more. A free account will give you two gigabytes of space. And there's also a desktop app for Mac and PC, tablet, or smartphone app. And you can also access your files at any time, any where from a web browser. You can revert to older versions of your past files if you need 30 days to get a back up version and you can also share files and folders with other people.
Today, I'm going to show you how Dropbox is absolutely gorgeous in collaborating on files and folders with other people. Now, you can't simultaneously edit a file, but just the benefits alone of being able to work on a file collaboratively from your own desk is excellent. I use Dropbox for the anywhere access and file back up capabilities, but I also have a few special synced folders. One is for my bandmates. It's shared, and occasionally I might find some new lyric sheets or photos have magically appeared in the folder.
And I also use them, when I'm working on conference presentations. If I'm working with somebody else, we can each work in that folder on our own computers on our own time. Alright, enough talking. Let's dive right in. As it stands right now on this computer, I'm on a Mac. And I've already got the Dropbox client installed. Now, it's going to work in a similar way on a PC. In the top-right up here, I can see my Dropbox icon. And that green check mark means that everything is currently synced. On a Windows machine, it's going to be at the bottom right in the system tray next to the clock.
Now, I've got Finder open, and here's all of my folders. And I've got a new folder, it says Dropbox. Any folder that I create in there, is going to be put in my Dropbox folder. That means I'll be able to access it online, on my smartphone. Anywhere I can get access to Dropbox. I've created a folder in here called Marketing Presentation Prep, because I'm about to start on a marketing presentation, and I want to work on it with somebody who's going to be presenting with me. I created a doc and I put it in that folder. It's called Speaker Notes.
And it just has some notes of the things that we're going to go over while we talk. I'm going to share that with the person that I'm actually speaking with. So, it goes up to number four. I'm going to close out of it and share it. And let's see what my partner can do with this doc. I'm going to right-click on it, and go to the special Dropbox context menu. This is on a Windows machine too. It works the same way. I'm going to select Share This Folder. I'm not going to share a link to it, because all that's going to do is invite somebody to view the files.
But I want to make this entire folder interactive. And let Shay, add her own files, and work on the same docs. Here's the dialogue where I can add people. I'm going to type in the email address of the Dropbox user that I want to share it with. I select Share Folder. And my invitation has been sent to Shay. Shay's going to get a notification in her email that she's been invited to share this folder. So, now on her own time she can go into this document, modify it, add things to it, and even put anything she wants in this folder. This is what the Dropbox interface looks like online.
I can click Dropbox, and see my entire Dropbox folder structure. Here's my Marketing Presentation Prep. This icon with the people next to it means that it's a shared folder. I can click on it and see any files that are currently in there. Now, it doesn't have to be any documents at all, it can be files, it can be URLs, it can be applications as long as I am not hitting my two gigabyte limit for a free Dropbox account. I'm fine. Now, let me show you what it can do in a mean time while we're waiting for Shay to work on this document on her own time, I can add more things to it.
In my Documents folder on the Mac, I have a document in here. It's a note from last year's presentation. And I want to add it to my working folder because it will help us while we're putting a presentation together. So, I can take it, copy it, go over to Dropbox, go back to my Marketing folder. Right-click and paste it in. You'll notice that the icon had changed while it was syncing. This means that it's not quite active on the Dropbox site, itself. It hasn't synced. It was copying up. So, Shay wouldn't have access to it yet.
The green check mark means that. All files are synced with Dropbox. So, now Shay's going to get notification, that a new file has been added, so that she can go check it out. And I can see up here, that Speaker Notes was updated to the latest version. That means that Shay has already gotten the invitation, has worked on it and sent some changes back. I can double-click on it. And let's see what she did. So, here's her changes. You'll notice that we weren't working on it simultaneously, but we were still able to work on the shared document together.
Especially with files and folders, it gets even more useful. For example, I can take websites that I like for good speaking tips or anything that can help us with the presentation itself. And put it into the folder. So, that's how you can use Dropbox to share files and work on presentations with other people. It becomes a really valuable asset, even though you can't work on files at the same time to be able to work on files collaboratively.
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