How To Give Dropbox a Functionality Boost With DropIn

Here at AppStorm, we’re huge fans of Dropbox. It’s fast, incredibly useful, and extremely easy to use. How can you go wrong with it?

That said, there are always ways to improve an app – and DropIn aims to do just that. Add some extra functionality to Dropbox in order to make your life even easier. You can get notified of changes made to your files, and quickly upload files by dropping them in the menu bar icon.

Is DropIn an incredible boost to an already awesome app, or just another unnecessary extension? Read on to find out.

Getting Started

DropIn is available exclusively to the Mac App Store, and costs just $1.99. Unfortunately, many people will run away as soon as they see any price tag at all, but think about it – you’d pay that much for a chocolate bar that would be gone in a few minutes, so why not pay that for an app that you’ll use on a daily basis?

DropIn in the App Store

DropIn in the App Store

Installation is, as you’d expect with the App Store, very easy – hit the purchase button and it’ll download straight away. When you first open it up, there isn’t any need to log in to DropBox. Simply tell DropIn where your Dropbox folder is located and it’ll do the rest – couldn’t be easier!

Notifications

Many people use Dropbox for collaborating on projects, using a shared folder. But how do you know when somebody has made a change to a document? Sure, they could contact you, or you could regularly check the files yourself, but that isn’t all that efficient.

DropIn allows you to be notified whenever a file is changed via Growl’s notification system. You can decide to be notified if a new file is created in DropBox, if a file is modified, if a file is removed, or all three. If you Dropbox for collaboration, this will be a crucial feature that you have to get.

Notifications Preferences

Notifications Preferences

If you’re constantly working in Dropbox altering, creating and deleting files, you certainly won’t want a notification every few seconds from DropIn. Luckily for you, the app developers have incorporated a feature which can save you from these woes – Filters.

You can quickly add rules which will narrow the number of files you get notified about. So if you wanted to only be notified when PDFs in your Public folder were edited, simply set up that rule.

Filters Preferences

Filters Preferences

Droplets

One of my most used apps is CloudApp – a simple file-sharing app which sits in your menu bar which you drag a file into, it’ll upload it and pop out a link to send to a friend. Whilst it’s a wonderful app, the free version has a few limitations – you can only upload 10 files a day, and file size is limited to 25MB.

These limitations are removed in the premium version of CloudApp, but it costs over €4/month (about $5.60/month). This is by no means a lot of money, but when DropIn can do the same job for a once off price of $1.99, it’s a no-brainer, really.

To turn DropIn into a CloudApp alternative, just direct DropIn to your Public folder, and enter your Dropbox user ID.

If you’re not sure what your user ID is, it’s not hard to find. In the public URL of a file, there should be a number after “/u/”. That’s your user ID.

Once you’ve entered that into DropIn, you’re ready to go. Drag a file into the DropIn menu bar icon, it’ll upload, and the icon will go blue. The public URL is automatically copied to your clipboard.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to copy a public URL later on, via DropIn. So if you want to share a file you uploaded a few days ago, you’ll have to go into your Dropbox folder in Finder and get the link. Aside from that feature, it’s generally better than CloudApp – It has unlimited uploads and file size – the only limitation is the amount of storage you have in Dropbox.

Droplets Preferences

Droplets Preferences

When you upload a file, or if it is altered, you can view a few details about it – its name, location, date of creation and file size, and there are links to view the file in Finder or open it in the default app for that file type. There is also a thumbnail of the file.

One particular use I can think of for it is if you are working with a freelancer, such as a graphic designer, and they are uploading revisions to a shared Dropbox folder. You can quickly see what has changed before opening the file to see it in full detail.

Upload Information

Upload Information

Of course, you don’t have to use the droplets feature to upload to the Public folder – It can upload to any directory you wish. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a Dropbox directory – You could link it to your “Automatically Add to iTunes” folder, and add music to iTunes just by dragging it into your menu bar. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.

Conclusion

DropIn hasn’t got a wealth of features, but it has enough to warrant a purchase, and the features it does have it excels at. If you’re looking to improve the functionality of Dropbox, DropIn is certainly a great place to start. Does it justify its price? With a price of $1.99, I think it has justified its price within a few hours of use.

Has it replaced CloudApp for me? Well, for everyday use, no – CloudApp is designed for that purpose, and it shows. However, for bigger files, DropIn is a great alternative.


Summary

Easily keep up to date with the latest activity in your busy Dropbox folder with DropIn.

8
  • Jason Sanchez

    Looks cool. I’ve been using other Dropbox apps (like Plaintext and Droplist) as Dropbox file sync extensions.

  • http://kappacreative.com Milosz Falinski

    Looks like DropShorty (http://beefdisciple.com/software/dropshorty/) is free and has exactly the same funcionality.

  • katy lavallee

    The default Dropbox app already shows growl notifications when a file is added or changed. Also, if you put your public folder in your dock, you can drag any file to it. And you can right-click on a file in your Dropbox public folder in finder and in the Dropbox context menu there is an option to copy the public url.

    So, it seems like the only advantage you get for $2 is having it automatically copy the public url to your clipboard after you drag and drop the file. If that’s something you do a lot, then I suppose it’s worth it.

    • fridolink

      :)

  • Jeff

    @Katy @Milosz I don’t think you understand, the main focus of the app seems to be about tracking changes in your Dropbox (the default app only shows ~5 and is limited, no actions or filters etc).

    The droplet stuff is an added bonus!

    • katy lavallee

      Ah, I see. Thanks for clarifying. The article didn’t really cover that feature in detail.

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