Recently, I had to prepare a conference talk together with a colleague while both of us were working at different locations across the country. Via chats and phone calls we elaborated the topics, shared ideas and presented our current progress to each other. To share diagrams, images and the current version of the slides, well basically every digital asset, we were using Dropbox.
Dropbox offers a shared directory directly inside your file system you can then access from different computers simultaneously. It does so by synchronizing with a secure web storage in the background. It integrates tightly into your desktop and works on both Windows and Mac OS (and Linux but I cannot tell you about this). It notifies you whenever a shared file has been modified on another computer and a little icon overlay indicates whether a file is currently being synchronized. Technically, you could compare this to a classic version control system and indeed it comes with a history, too. But its seamless and hassle-free integration allows you to forget about all these details and to work with your image editor or word processor as you are used to, hit save and tell your buddy on the phone to open the file. It’s that easy.
I am using Dropbox for my personal life, too. You can control whether a folder is shared among others or is for private use only (default). I share my dropbox folder accross different Macs and PCs I am working on. When working on a laptop and a desktop at the very same desk sharing files between them is a common task for me. Before, the fastest way to transfer a file between these computers was copying it to a USB Stick, ejecting (and waiting for delayed write) it and mounting it at the other computer again. Funnily enough, sending an email with an attachment is sometimes even simpler than this procedure.
But with Dropbox I save the file into my Dropbox folder or even use this folder as primary editing location for my work. After hopping to the other computer this file in the latest version is already there without leaving any application on the first computer or performing additional tasks.
Dropbox is yet another tool that simplifies your daily life.