Dropbox, the file synching service, supports collaboration through its shared folders feature. When you are working with other Dropbox users on a research or writing project, this can be quite useful. Here’s how it works.
Setting up a shared folder is easy. It can be done through the Web interface or through the virtual drive in your desktop’s file system.
Here you see my folders displayed via the Web interface. To the right of each folder is a drop-down menu and you’ll notice the Shared folder options item.
When you select that option you will be presented with this information pane. Here you can enter email addresses for the people you want to access this folder and add a short message that will be delivered with the invitation. Notice at the top of this pane is a second option called Members. In this case, I already have three people (I’m one of them) sharing this folder. If I click on that link I can see who they are and remove them if I wish.
Once a person accepts my invitation to share this folder, the folder will appear in their Dropbox account/virtual drive and they have rights to add, update and delete files within the folder.
This example shows how to share a folder from within the Dropbox virtual drive on my Mac desktop. Either CMD+click or right-click the folder and choose the Dropbox > Share This Folder . . . command. The rest of the process will be similar to the Web version.
Notice the folder icons in my folders list. My shared folders have a buddy icon on the folder while unshared ones are plain. There is also an icon identifying the public folders (aptly named Public and Photos).
Some important notes regarding shared folders. As I mentioned, any of your shared users can add, edit and delete files within the folder. They can also invite additional users to the share, however only the folder’s creator can remove users. When two people open the same file to edit, Dropbox will NOT try to merge those edits. Instead, it will save two separate copies of that file.
Dropbox is a very efficient and cost-effective way to share files with others. Take a look for yourself. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.