How do you send a 20 megabyte file? How about a 300 megabyte video?
A number of web services have appeared in the past few years that allow anyone to send large files. In fact, the number of such services seems to be growing daily, so obviously there’s a big demand for this functionality and it’s an approach that works rather well. However, it’s far from seamless, requiring several more steps than simply dragging a file into an email message. Using a file sending service can be a hassle. Luckily, there is an easier way, so simple that I am surprised how few people know about it: use Dropbox.
You can find dozens of reasons for using Dropbox. This is just one more such reason.
To send a large video file or presentation or picture or anything else you wish to share with someone, save a copy of the file someplace in your Dropbox folder. Folder and file names are not important, use anything that makes sense to you. For instance, if you want to share a video of the birthday party with Grandma, you might save the file in the following way:
\Dropbox\grandma\birthdayparty-2013.mp4All you have to do is use Windows Explorer (on Windows) or Finder (on Macintosh) or a similar program to find the file to be shared. Click on the file name to select the file, then right-click and select SHARE LINK from the Dropbox menu. (My Macintosh says "Share Dropbox Link." Same thing.)
The rather long web address gets copied to the Clipboard. A typical Dropbox link will look like this:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/i47kvpai3ycc7xu/birthdayparty-2013.mp4Then you can paste that address into an email message, IM, text message...you name it. Friends who click the link will get an instant preview of the file or folder through their browser. The recipient doesn't need to be a Dropbox user.
You can use the same method to share a file or even an entire folder. When you choose to create a link to a folder, everything in the folder and its sub-folders will be accessible from the link. Move items out of the folder or remove the link if you no longer wish to make these files accessible from a link.
You can remove a link at any time although only from the Dropbox.com web site, which seems rather awkward to me. Log onto http://www.dropbox.com using your normal Dropbox user name and password, find the file(s) from the Links tab on the sidebar of the Dropbox website. When you see the file listed, click on the blue "x" to the end of the file name. A menu will appear asking if you really want to stop sharing the file. Click on REMOVE LINK and the link is deleted. Nobody can access the file once you delete the link.
In short, Dropbox provides a quick and easy tool for sharing files with anyone you wish. The recipient does not even need to be a Dropbox user.
For more information, look at https://www.dropbox.com/help/167/en.
Note #1: If you share a link to a video, the recipient will be able to watch up to 15 minutes of it on the preview page. For a longer video, the recipient will need to download the file or watch from one of Dropbox's mobile apps to see all of it.
Note #2: The links you create are secure! When you get a link, Dropbox creates a unique token used only in that link. It is almost impossible to guess the token, but even if someone was able to do so, they'd also need to know the name of the folder and files the link points to. Theoretically, someone might be able to find your file but the reality is that nobody will. That said, if you publish the link on a website or somewhere else in public, anybody can use the link and the website where your link is posted might even be included in search engines. Think twice before posting a link in public! (I often publicly post Dropbox links in this newsletter when I want to make a large file available to everyone who reads my newsletter articles.)
Note #3: Only post links to files that you have the legal right to share with others (for example, documents, photos, software, music, and videos that you personally created). You do not have the right to share files unless you own the copyright in them or have been given permission by the copyright owner to share them. Purchasing or legally acquiring video, music, ebooks, or software does not give you the right to share that material with third parties over the Internet.