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What is Dropbox?

What is Dropbox?

Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) is a file sharing program created in 2007 by two MIT students who thought of a good way to share files.

With Dropbox you can share documents (and pictures) with others, either to collaborate on a project or to send a file too large to email. Dropbox is easy. It works on Windows and Mac computers, as well as tablets and smartphones. It is free.

Once you create a Dropbox account and download the program, you will see a Dropbox folder on your computer and you will have your own storage area on the Dropbox website. Any document you drag and drop into your Dropbox folder will be uploaded to the Dropbox website, which you can access from any computer by visiting dropbox.com.

To send someone else a document — either to collaborate or as a one-way document transfer — create a “shared folder” on the Dropbox website and invite someone (or a group of people) to join. This gives them access to the contents of the folder.

The recipient(s) will receive an email inviting them to share your Dropbox folder. If a recipient wishes just to download a shared document, he/she does not need to have a Dropbox account. But, if a recipient wishes to modify the document and upload it back into the shared folder, he/she will need a Dropbox account.

If you are using Dropbox to collaborate on a project, you and your recipient(s) must have the same software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc). If you are simply sending a document for someone else to download (but not edit), you should convert the document to a .pdf format and upload the .pdf to Dropbox to be sure the recipient can open/read it.

In order to use Dropbox on a tablet or smartphone, you will need to download a free app called “CloudOn.” Once you give CloudOn your Dropbox information, you will be able to access the contents of your Dropbox folder. CloudOn even gives you the ability to edit documents, a feature not readily available in these mobile devices.

Of course, you can always email yourself a file and pick it up from another device — this might be most efficient for just one file — but for multiple files, large files, and for sharing files, Dropbox is a great tool. Check it out.

Note: Dropbox is not the only file sharing program available; GoogleDocs and Windows SkyDrive are similar. You will need to have a gmail account to use GoogleDocs and a Windows account to use SkyDrive. Both are free and easy to use.