How To Make the Most of Dropbox – Part II

Following on from last week’s Dropbox guide, I will demonstrate some of the more advanced tricks that can be performed using Dropbox’s sync tool.

1. Remotely launch Bittorrent downloads.

I like to keep my various Linux distributions up-to-date and one of the ways I manage this is to ensure that as soon as the latest “iso” file of that distribution is made available I immediately start torrenting it. The first thing you will need is a torrent client that supports the “watch folder” feature. I personally use uTorrent. (Note: Transmission also has the ability to “watch” a folder for new torrent.)

To set up a “watched folder” in uTorrent click on Options on the top toolbar and then select Preferences from the drop-down menu.

utorrent - menu

Next, navigate to Directories from the left-hand column. This will open up a set of options on the right side of the panel. First, check “Automatically load .torrents from:”, then select “…” and using the file browser navigate to your “My Dropbox” folder and create a folder here called “Torrents”. Then select Select Folder. When the settings in the Preferences are completed hit OK.

utorrent - directories

Now, whenever you upload a .torrent file into your “Torrents” folder on Dropbox it will automatically launch in uTorrent, provided your computer is switched on and uTorrent is running. This is a great way to remotely launch torrents.

2. Access Dropbox from Multiple Devices

There are a number of ways of accessing Dropbox from a device other than your primary computer. You can log into the web interface which allows you to download any of your files or upload something new. You can also install Dropbox on a new computer and log in with your same account. Finally, Dropbox is now available as a download from the iTunes App Store as well as the Android marketplace.

iphone - dropbox
[Image credit: alex.priest]

3. Share files with the world

It is easy to share a folder with your friends in Dropbox, but it requires both parties (you and your friends) to have Dropbox accounts. In some cases you do not want to take the hassle of having the other party install Dropbox and you merely want to share a single file with them. In these cases you can share an individual file by creating a “public link”.

All files that are placed in the “Public” folder in your “My Dropbox” folder can be made “Public” by copying the public link and sharing it with the world.

Once you have copied a file into the Dropbox public folder, you can generate a public link either through the file explorer or through the web interface. In your file explorer, simply right-click on the file you want to share, select Dropbox and select Copy Public Link.

dropbox - public link

4. Sync your To-Do List

Although there are numerous online to-do lists such as RememberTheMilk, Evernote, and even Google’s Tasks application, most people (including me) are still fans of the old fashioned text-file.

To create a to-do list text file and access it everywhere, simply save your to do list in the Dropbox folder. This way you can access it from anywhere and make changes and re-upload.

dropbox - to_do

5. Backup Saved Game Files

I often find that I am in a friends house and I want to show them the “magical” new weapon my character found in a game. Unfortunately, because my saved file from the game is at home I am unable to launch the game from the position I left off.

To get around this you can add your “saved game” files to your My Dropbox folder and make it accesible from anywhere.

As of now, most of my saved game files are saved in the “Documents” folder and since I demonstrated how to keep your “Documents” folder in sync in the first part of this guide, there is no need to do anything further to backup your saved game files. However, if your saved game file is in some other folder then you will need to create a junction into your “My Dropbox” folder. Just keep in mind that unlike before you do not want to move the entire saved game folder into your “My Dropbox” folder, rather you want to right-click on the folder containing your saved game file, select “Pick Link source”, then navigate to your “My Dropbox” folder and right-click on any blank area and select “Drop As…” and select “Junction”.

This will ensure that your saved game files are backed up to Dropbox.

dropbox - games

6. Access your Instant Messaging Logs from Anywhere

If you are using multiple computers, chances are, you have also installed multiple IM accounts on each computer. While you are able to connect to your IM network easily, your chat log will be split among different computers. To keep them unified, you can easily create a junction (or symlink) and sync your chat log across different computers with Dropbox.

dropbox - IM logs

There are thousands and one things that you can do with Dropbox and I have only covered the tip of the iceberg. If you have found any other novel uses for Dropbox, let us know in the comments.

Image credit: claustchi

Abhiroop Basu

Abhiroop Basu is an opinionated tech and digital media blogger. As a doe-eyed twenty-something, he started his first blog TechComet to comment on anything tech-related that caught his omniscient eye.

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