For all the technological advancements with “the cloud,” we still haven’t figured out an easy way to request and collect files from more than one person. Wasn’t “the cloud” going to kill the whole file thing anyway? Of course, that’s not going to happen. As Dropbox has proved, we still like files and folders, only we want them everywhere we go.
When you’re working on a project with someone who’s not in your Slack group or in close vicinity, the go-to way to collaborate and exchange files is email, which we all know is far from the “best” way. Who wants to spend hours at the end trying to track all the attachments you got from four different people in sixteen different threads?
It’s time we put the whole charade to bed. I mean you’re already using Dropbox, so why not use this awesome and free service to collect all the files you need from all the people in question in one convenient folder? And here’s the best thing. You don’t need to do any of the management. All you need to do is send them a link. That’s it.
1. Using Dropbox’s Request File Feature
Dropbox, clearly seeing an opportunity to streamline the process of collecting files from different users, has released its own tool. It’s a simple form where you just add details of what you’re looking for. Dropbox then creates a special folder and gives you a link you can share with people.
To get started, go to Dropbox.com, log in, and from the sidebar click the “File Requests” and “Request files” buttons.
You’ll see a popup asking you what exactly it is that you’re requesting. Dropbox will also create a folder using the exact same name you gave above, although you’re free to change the folder name.
Now you’ll see a link that you can copy and share with anyone over IM or WhatsApp. The email option, though, is better if you’re dealing with office workers. They will get an email explaining that you’re requesting a file, and they can just click a button and upload the file.
When they are done uploading the file, it will show up in the folder you’ve assigned. Say goodbye to crappy email attachments!
2. Using Balloon.io
Balloon’s Dropbox request feature excites and scares me at the same time. Here’s how it works. You first log in to Balloon.io using your Dropbox account. Then, Balloon creates a “balloon” for you with a name you choose and generates a unique link. This will be something like “www.balloon.com/name.”
Now here’s the crazy part. Share this link with someone you know and need to request a file from. When they go to the address they’ll just see a floating balloon with no explanation of what’s happening. Crazy, right?
When they click the balloon, a file picker will show up. Any file they choose will be instantly uploaded and will show up in your Dropbox account under the Balloon folder.
That’s how easy it is. The great thing about Balloon is that you’re free to create more than one Balloon. This means you can have multiple folders dedicated to different projects, much like Dropbox’s feature. Requesting a file that ends up directly in your Dropbox account that you can then access from any device doesn’t get much easier than this.
What Will You Use It For?
How are you going to use this new found knowledge of easy file collection across the Web? Work on your next big project or to crowdsource your college notes? Share with us in the comments below.