All Posts By

Ian Lamont

How to disable Dropbox links

By | Video | No Comments

If you create links in Dropbox to share with other people, you may have a reason to delete the links for security reasons or simply because the other person has already accessed or copied the file. This short 4-minute video shows how to delete Dropbox links, set a password for the Dropbox link, or restrict how long the Dropbox link can be shared. The narrator is the author of Dropbox In 30 Minutes.

what is iOS family sharing

What is iOS Family Sharing?

By | Blog

From time to time I write about competing services to Dropbox, such as Microsoft OneDrive and Apple iCloud. This post explains what is iOS Family Sharing, a neat feature for family members using Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads. It’s also a tool that can help parents control their kids’ iPhone usage.

Family Sharing lets family members share photo albums, eBooks, music, calendars, and other content and data across multiple iPhones (and other iOS devices, such as iPads) in your household. A parent can have control over kids’ app and music purchases, people can add events to a shared calendar, and photos can be shared as well. There’s even a service that lets you see other family members’ locations on a map.

Assuming you are the adult in the family, here’s how to set it up:

  1. Go to Settings and tap your name or face at the top of the screen. Then tap Family.
  2. You should be labelled as the Organizer. Tap your name and make sure Share My Purchases is toggled on. You may also need to set up the payment account for shared purchases, using a credit card.
  3. Tap Add a Family Member, and type that person’s name or email address. The name may auto-populate from your Contacts.
  4. Follow the prompts to log into iCloud, and tap Next.
  5. The other family member will be sent an invitation.

Once family members join the shared account, everyone will be able to access movies, songs, apps, and other content ordered by any other person in the family. If you want to hide certain purchases from other family members, you can mark them as private. You can also have other family members ask for permission before buying something—a great way to set limits for kids.

what is iOS family sharing

Dropbox photos in Camera Uploads vs. Google Photos

By | Blog
A reader recently came across one of my videos on youtube about Dropbox. He wrote:
I have a very specific need and I am struggling to find answers on the internet. Can you please help me. I have a Huawei Mate 9 smart phone with the Dropbox app installed and I have selected the automatic upload setting for Camera uploads. From what I can see there are a number of apps for organizing photos on a smart phone, but this organization does not translate once they have been uploaded into Dropbox. I can organize Dropbox but then I still have unorganized photos on my phone.
Am I right in thinking that by using Google Photos and Google Drive I can have organized photos on my phone synced with ones on my google drive? Is there a way to do this with Dropbox?

Yes, Dropbox has a problem with organizing photos. In earlier editions of the software they tried to create tools to help with this, but Dropbox abandoned them … probably because they were too hard to use or few people wanted to go through the trouble of categorizing them. So basically, it’s just reverse chron in Dropbox Camera Uploads.

Google Drive is integrated with Google Photos, but to be honest with you, I seldom use Google Photos. This blog post, however, says its organizational tools are pretty good, including auto-find features based on image recognition.

In my experience, the iOS Photos app is the best at auto-organizing photos by date, location, and even facial recognition, but obviously for Android users that’s won’t work.

Screenshot of Google Photos:

dropbox photos vs google photos

What is Dropbox paper?

By | Blog

Dropbox offers an online collaborative editing space called Paper. The longer you use Dropbox, the more likely you are to be prompted to try out Dropbox Paper. Available via paper.dropbox.com (or via the navigation links on the Dropbox website) Paper is “a flexible workspace where you can write text, task lists, or code, and also embed images, audio, and video from your favorite apps.”

While that description may sound a lot like a word processor, it behaves quite differently than Microsoft Word or Google Docs. When using Paper, there is no toolbar with icons or menu options at the top of the page. Rather, it looks like a blank page with a few places to enter a title, type text, or add other elements, including photos and documents from your Dropbox account. In that sense, it’s actually easy to start writing without the distraction of buttons or rulers or prompts.

Dropbox Paper exampleHowever, Dropbox Paper is not meant to be a Microsoft Word replacement. Yes, you can print out a copy of the document or save it as a .docx file, but it won’t look very fancy. In many cases the document is not even intended for sophisticated formatting; it’s meant to be an online collaborative effort that team members can access via dropbox.com or the Dropbox mobile app.

Dropbox: How to recover deleted files and folders using “Events”

By | Video

I recently made a huge mistake in Dropbox. From my desktop computer, I deleted two folders — one shared, and one not — that collectively contained more than 9,000 files, including mission-critical files for my business. I watched in horror as Dropbox synced the deletion to my master Dropbox account, which then replicated to all other devices linked to the same Dropbox account.

Now, if you have read my book Dropbox In 30 Minutes or have seen some of my other videos, you know there is a relatively easy way to restore deleted Dropbox files using the Dropbox.com website. You can see the video here.

But, when you’ve deleted thousands of files and hundreds of folders, it’s a huge hassle to manually restore all of them. It can take hours to hunt around on Dropbox.com, find the trashed folders and files, and right-click to restore them.

Fortunately, Dropbox offers a way to get back all of the files and folders at once. It involves the “Events” tab on the Dropbox.com website, which is a list of all Dropbox activities (updates, deletions, etc.) going back one month. The video below describes how to do it. This is the method I used to get my 9,000+ files and folders back to the way they had been before.

Note that this method will not work if the deletion event took place more than one month ago. In addition, if you have added files and folders to your Dropbox account since the deletion event, it may cause issues when you try to restore using the Events link.

Without further ado, here’s the video:

Don’t make this mistake if you import a folder to Dropbox

By | Blog

What’s the best way to import folders to Dropbox? A reader was wondering which of the following two setups worked best:

When I transfer a folder from my hard drive to the dropbox website, the hard drive copy of the folder stays there so the file is on both dropbox and the hard drive.

When I transfer a folder from the hard drive to the dropbox folder the hard drive copy of the folder is deleted and is just listed on dropbox so there is no file on the hard drive but just listed in the dropbox folder.

Which is correct? Should I have folders in both the hard drive and dropbox or dropbox only?

As I mentioned in my Dropbox book, It’s important to remember that the core feature of Dropbox is the ability to automatically synchronize anything that gets “dropped” into it, wherever it may be installed — the Dropbox folder on your desktop or laptop, the Dropbox app on your iPhone or Android phone, or Dropbox.com. It looks like this conceptually:

How Dropbox works - syncing

For this reader, the ideal approach would be to install Dropbox on your computer and then move the folder from your hard drive to your Dropbox folder on your hard drive (which will then sync with your Dropbox folder online and on any other computer using the same Dropbox account). Note that this does not delete the folder from your hard drive — it simply moves it from one location on your hard drive (for instance C:/My Documents/Janice) to another location on your hard drive (C:/Desktop/Dropbox/Janice). Whenever you update the file stored in your Dropbox folder on your computer, it will automatically sync to the other locations you have Dropbox installed as well as on Dropbox.com.

I do not recommend uploading the folder to Dropbox.com and deleting the folder on your hard drive (that is, without installing the Dropbox application on your computer). The reason: If something happens to your account (for instance, you can’t recover the password or Dropbox has a massive outage) you would lose the data or be unable to access it in that folder.

Another bad option: Copying the folder to Dropbox. This leads to two separate versions of each file in the folder (potentially thousands in all), and the potential for the unsynced versions of the files to be opened and edited.