OK, enough writing about the Paperless Document Organization Guide. It’s time to get geeky again.
Many people think of Dropbox as a way to sync files across your computers and devices, but the service is also a great way to share a file that you can’t or don’t want to send via email.
By the way, this post was 100% inspired by the latest Mac Power Users episode about Dropbox. David and Katie had Eddie Smith from Practically Efficient as a guest, and it is a great show if you want to learn more about using Dropbox (this episode is good for Windows users too).
When you want to share a link to a file in Dropbox with someone, there is the traditional way using the Public folder and a “newer” way using the web interface that you may not be aware of.
Sharing Using The Public Folder
Go into your computer’s Dropbox folder and you will find that there is a folder called Public. This is set up by default by Dropbox and it has special powers.
In Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder, right click on any file in that folder. You’ll see a Dropbox submenu and one of the options will be “Copy Public Link”.
Choose that and then go into an email or text editor and paste it. You’ll see a special Dropbox-created link directly to that file. Any file in your Public folder already has a link created for that.
Before you go crazy throwing things in your Dropbox Public folder, remember what I just said: any file in your Public folder already has a link created. That means that theoretically, any file you put in there could be downloaded by someone other than your intended recipient (unlikely, but possible).
To mitigate that somewhat, Merlin Mann has a post on the lengths he goes to to securely send stuff in Dropbox.
Sharing Using The Web Interface
To be honest, I was not aware of this method of sharing until listening to the aforementioned MPU podcast. However, when I went to try it out it wasn’t working for me. After some digging, here is what I found out.
Around the time of the Dropbox .80 beta, they released a new feature that they call the “New Sharing Model”. Unfortunately, it turns out that they pulled it from the 1.0 release, so you need to take one step before you do this. (Note: You need to have at least Dropbox 1.0 installed for this to work).
- In your web browser, go to https://www.dropbox.com/enable_shmodel to enable the new sharing model
- In the Finder, Windows Explorer, or Dropbox web interface, go to any file that is not in your Public folder
- Right-click on the file and choose Get Shareable Link
- You’ll be taken to a special page that has a link to the file to download
- If you want to un-link a file (for example, once it has been downloaded), go to the Dropbox web interface, click the Sharing tab at the top, and click on the new Linked Items tab at the left
From there, you can see which items you have linked and can remove the ones you no longer want to share
There’s two options for sharing files in Dropbox. Do you have any others? Leave a note in the comments.