six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

By request: Dropbox file submissions without the hassle

I use Dropbox a lot. I still don’t know what to do with a terabyte of cloud storage, but I continue to use it—to store working copies of my projects and sync them across my devices, yes, but also to share files with others.

My wife and I use a shared Dropbox folder for our business data. My Incomparable panelists and Relay FM co-hosts have access to shared folders where we can transfer audio files, scripts, images, and other reference material. It’s become part of the workflow.

But the thing is, a lot of the people I work with have a free Dropbox account—meaning they’re limited to 2GB of Dropbox data. Sometimes that Incomparable Transfer Folder can get big—and some of them are so close to the Dropbox size limit that they’re not able to even join the shared folder, because it’ll push them over. And though I’m a paying customer, I can’t grant the rights to some of my storage space to members of my shared folders. That’s not how Dropbox works.

But a feature introduced by Dropbox in June is starting to change how I use the service. It’s called File Requests, and it allows me to create a link that I can give to anyone who needs to send me a file—whether they use Dropbox or not.

To create a new request, click on the File Requests icon at the left side of the Dropbox web interface. Then you can create a new request item and choose where those files appear in your Dropbox—by default it appears to be a folder, one per request, inside a new File requests folder inside the main Dropbox folder.

My fellow podcasters never need to do anything with the files that get dropped in my Dropbox—they just need to get their files to me. The File Request interface is a perfect fit, so I created one of these requests as a place where people could upload their audio without having to use any of their precious Dropbox space.

The files! They have arrived!

When the uploader clicks on the link, they just go to a webpage on Dropbox that asks them to enter their name and upload the file. (If you’re logged in to Dropbox, your Dropbox account name is used.) That’s it! Once the file is uploaded, it appears in my box—with their given name added to the start of the file, to aid in understanding which files are coming from which people. The uploader receives an email indicating that the upload has been successful, and I receive an email alerting me to the submission—which has already synced into my Dropbox folder.

I’m still using shared folders for some tasks where the files truly need to move back and forth, but for getting big audio files to me for editing, they aren’t necessary anymore. with File Requests, Dropbox became just a bit more indispensable to me.

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