You’ve got AirDrop, and that’s pretty cool, but what if you’re not a single OS household? You have a Mac, but your significant other has a PC. How is that ever going to work? What are you going to do, email files back and forth? Pshaw!
Well, you could do that, but it sure would create a lot of inbox clutter, or you could try Filedrop, a nifty little app that acts like AirDrop but works on Macs and PCs, allowing you to share files across platforms. There are even some forthcoming mobile apps to sweeten the deal. How reliable is sharing with Filedrop? Let’s find out!
Drop Me a Line
Open up Filedrop, and it will start looking for other computers on the same network that are also running Filedrop. It’s important to remember that Filedrop has to be open on both computers; it doesn’t run in the background. When Filedrop finds your friend’s machine, just drag a file (or more than one) onto the image of his desktop. Green fireflies will swirl around the Filedrop window while you wait, and when everything’s done, you’ll get a confirmation that the upload is 100% complete.
It’s just as easy to accept a file via Filedrop. When someone sends you a file or folder, you’ll get an incoming transfer alert. Accept or decline the transfer, and choose to save to your default folder or elsewhere. When the transfer’s complete, you’ll get the same 100% confirmation as your friend sending the file.
Click the downloaded files button to take a look at all of the files you’ve received. My default folder is Downloads, so that’s what my button says, but if you’re using Documents or Desktop, the name of the folder that receives your Filedrop downloads will show up on the button instead. Your most recent files will show up there in a list. Click the filename to open the file, or hit the spyglass icon to locate the file in Finder. If the file’s been moved, though, it won’t appear in the list.
There aren’t any settings or any kind of options for Filedrop. It does what it says on the tin and that’s it. Not that it isn’t a great app, because it sure can shift those files around, and it doesn’t miss a beat when it’s trying to locate other computers running Filedrop, finding them instantly.
It’s just that it always has to be open. That’s sort of a bummer, and if you accidentally close the application window, it also exits the app. That means if someone wants to send you something, they can look all night and all day, but your Mac isn’t going to show up until you reopen Filedrop. It really is too easy to quit this app when it’s the kind of thing you likely want to keep running all the time.
It also sits in the Dock, and you can’t get rid of it. Sure, I want Filedrop to be “always on,” but that doesn’t mean I want to be looking at it the 90% of the time I’m not using it. It’d be great if I could just run it from the menu bar and only bring up the Filedrop window when I needed it. Filedrop might work even better if I could bring it up with a hotkey and just let it run entirely in the background the rest of the time.
Mobile on Its Way
There are some mobile apps on the way to complement Filedrop. Easily move files to your phone and then back again. Stream photos and music to any computer running Filedrop, as long as you’re on the same network. There are going to be iOS apps for iPhone and iPad, with an Android version to follow, so everyone should be covered.
That’s going to be great, but it’s not out, yet. I can’t tell you how well it works with iOS, because the iOS apps don’t exist. (And I wouldn’t be able to tell you about the Android app at all, ever, because I’m not that cool.) The developer promises we won’t have long to wait, though, only a few weeks, at most. Filedrop is just so good and the features in conjunction with the mobile apps are so promising, I don’t mind waiting. Much.
AirDrop is great if you’re only ever around other Macs, and while that’s great in fantasy land, most of us interact with PC-users regularly. We’re long past the days of wondering if our files are Mac- or PC-compatible, and we want our computers to get along with each other just as well. Filedrop bridges the gap, and does so nicely.
It was so simple to use, I was amazed, and each time I tried sending or receiving a file, everything went off without a hitch. The couple of times my computer couldn’t find its friend, I thought, “Aha! Gotch, Filedrop!” But instead of Filedrop’s discovery failing, someone had closed Filedrop on one of the other computers. That’s perhaps the only failing of Filedrop, that’s it’s too easy to close and thus stop receiving files. Otherwise, Filedrop’s a cinch to use, and the promise of mobile apps to come means things can only get better.