Dropbox has been the go-to for cloud storage for many of us for many years now. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest cloud sharing service there is, and for those of us who like to keep our files all together, that’s a problem. There are some pretty prominent services, perhaps most notably Cloud.app and Droplr, that allow easy drag-and-drop sharing from your desktop, but Dropbox hasn’t kept up.
Currently in free beta, Droplings is a new app that allows you to share in a similar way to the other cloud services, but from Dropbox. Droplings uploads files to your Dropbox Public folder and creates a download page for your file, just by dragging your files to your menubar. We’ll take a look, after the jump!
Using Dropbox with Droplings
Before you get started with Droplings, you’ll need your Dropbox ID. Droplings gives you some instructions for getting the ID in Finder, but the method they describe just wasn’t working for me. I got my Dropbox ID by going to my Public folder at the Dropbox website, right-clicking on any file, and copying the public link. In that URL was an 8-digit number, my Dropbox ID. I plugged that into Droplings and was ready to go.
Check in the the application preferences to make sure Droplings knows where your Dropbox folder is on your Mac. Apparently the default is the user directory, but I’d moved mine into Documents at some point, creating potential confusion for Droplings. Take a moment to find your Dropbox folder and make sure Droplings has the correct path before you get started.
To upload a file to Dropbox with Droplings, just drag it to the Droplings menubar icon, just as you would have with CloudApp or Droplr. When the upload is complete, the Droplings icon will turn blue, and the shortened URL for your file’s download page will be automatically copied to your clipboard. To view your file and its download page, just paste the URL into a browser.
You’ll see that your Dropbox file has its own webpage now, similar to a Droplr or Cloudapp upload. Usually, the public download links for Dropbox files are pretty sparse. If it’s an image, all you get is a direct link to the image; if it’s any other sort of file, it’s likely visiting the public Dropbox link will just start an automatic download. The Droplings uploader gives you a more attractive download page while keeping your files in Dropbox.
You can upload up to five files at once with no problems. However, only the most recent URL is copied to your clipboard. To get the other four URLs, click the Droplings icon in your menubar. You’ll see a list of your most recent uploads via Droplings. Just click the name of the file you want to share, and its URL will now be copied to your clipboard. You can repeat this for all files in the Droplings menubar dropdown.
Things to Think About
Droplings only remembers the last five uploads, and without a login, there’s no way to get at those previous Droplings uploads. You do have two options, though. You can upload your files again, creating duplicates. This obviously isn’t ideal, and depending on file size, can eat up your storage fast. Your other option is to go into your Public folder and grab the public links manually. However, because Droplings is creating a folder for each file, this can get tedious if you’ve uploaded a bunch of files.
Each file uploaded gets its own folder and HTML file, all created within a “share” folder in your Dropbox Public folder. While it’s great to get all that separated out and frankly necessary to make the Droplings theme work, the folders aren’t named anything useful. If you want to get back into them to retrieve a file you’ve uploaded previously, you’ll find them organized by month uploaded, but that’s it. You just have to get to digging to really find anything.
While Droplings advertises that it has custom themes, they really are custom in that you have to customize them yourself. There’s actually only one theme available and no others to choose from. If you want your file’s download page to look different from the default, you’re going to have to do that all yourself. There are some instructions on the Droplings website, though, to walk you through it. This is going to be crazy useful to designers and developers who want their shared files’ pages to fit their sites, but the default theme will probably be enough for the rest of us.
Droplings isn’t going to work for just any quick uploads you want to ever see again. If you just need to get something into Dropbox for your own use, it’s best to take the extra minute to move it into Finder’s Dropbox folder or upload it via the web interface, rather than let it get lost in Droplings maze of folders. Droplings isn’t going to be a replacement for the official Dropbox app or the web app.
However, if you want to share files in a professional way online, with a customized page for the file that looks as nice as CloudApp or Droplr, Droplings is the way to go. It gives you a great default download page, and with some work you can create personalized themes that match your own website or nameplate page. Plus, if you just want to use Dropbox to share one-off files like screenshots, this is likely the easiest way to do it, especially if you don’t really care to quickly share the same file again in the future. While not a substitute for how you’re already using Dropbox, Droplings is a great add-on to the service.