Take your files with you on the move
Having files in Dropbox account offers no benefit if you cannot access them. The Dropbox for iPad app is a good way of accessing online files even if you don't have a notebook to hand. It isn't possible to edit files directly through the app but it can send files to other apps on the iPad.
Installation is simple and the first screen prompts for your Dropbox details. There is a link to create an account if you don't already have one. There's no cost to using Dropbox if you can limit yourself to 2GB of online storage space. The paid for accounts with 50GB and 100GB of space cost $10/month and $20/month respectively.
A four screen quick guide to Dropbox appears when you first log in, explaining what Dropbox does and how this app works.
The interface is simple to navigate with four icons at the bottom of the left-hand column to select between browsing the Dropbox folder, viewing favourites, uploading files and settings.
Folders and documents are shown in the left hand column. Tap on a folder to enter it and a file to see a preview if it is supported.It is possible to preview image files, MP3, AIFF and WAV audio files, MOV, MP4 and M4V video files, and a wide range of office suite formats. This includes Word, Powerpoint and Excel files from all versions including 2007 and 2010. Mac users will appreciate the support for Keynote, Pages and Numbers files. Finally web pages and text files can be displayed.
If a file format is not supported by Dropbox but the iPad has software that does, it is possible to send the document to that app. For example, it is possible to send documents to Evernote if it is installed on the iPad.
It was a bit of a disappointment not to be able to access Open Office or Libre Office files as the file types are open source and there won't be any licence fees to offer support.
It is possible to upload photos from the camera (iPad 2 owners only unfortunately) and you can use the app to share photos via email, text message, Twitter or Facebook. We were able to upload screen shots from an iPad 1.
Dropbox will not store any of the files on the iPad without being asked. Marking as files as a favorite by tapping on the star icon with mark it to be saved on the iPad for offline access.
It is possible to select the upload quality of photos and videos and set a passcode lock on the Dropbox app. This is a good way of keeping files private on a shared iPad.
The amount of storage space used by the app can be set to: Off, 100MB, 200MB, 500MB, 1GB. 500GB is the default option.
To upload an image from the iPad, click on the Upload icon and then on the plus icon at the top of the left-hand column.
The first time you do this, Dropbox will prompt for you to give it location access so it can access your photos. Tap on the green Authorize button. The following instructions appear that you should go to the Settings app, select Location Services and set to enable. Tap on the very small arrow for more information that explains why Dropbox requires data from the GPS. Basically Dropbox does not use any location data but has to ask permission in order to make multiple uploads. The location services section in the Settings app does allow you to select which apps can access this information. Checking this carefully is a good idea.
Return to Dropbox and tap on the upload icon again. This time an iOS message will appear asking if Dropbox can use your current location. Tap on OK.
Tap on photos to select them. Tap on the Dropbox folder at the bottom to select which folder in your Dropbox account to use. Tap on the blue Choose button when you are happy and then on the blue Upload button.
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A well designed app that should be essential for anyone using Dropbox and an iPad
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