If you’re like us, you’re using Dropbox for all kinds of unusual tasks. But we wanted to go further, so we asked the experts at Dropbox to tell us their most unusual, unexpected and crazy ways to use this versatile software tool.
If you’re not familiar with Dropbox, it’s free desktop synchronization software that lets you store a copy of a file on your computer and then access that same file from anywhere. You can store up to 2GB for free. Go over that amount, and it’ll cost you $10 a month for 50GB and $20 a month for 100GB.
Here’s the scoop from our experts for three different levels of Dropbox users:
For Beginners Only
Before we get to the advanced techniques, one Dropbox expert suggested that we focus on the basics. Beginners, this is for you; advanced users, you already know all this stuff, go ahead and skip to the next section.
Sync between two computers: This is the most basic task, where you install the Dropbox application onto two computers and synchronize files between them.
Undelete: We were so relieved when we first discovered this feature. Simply go to the Dropbox website, click the arrow that appears to the right of the file when you position your cursor over it, and select Previous Versions. Look at that — it’s your own Time Machine.
Share a folder to collaborate: We do this all the time here at Mashable, where everyone has access to the same files, and if someone else is working on that file, it lets us know so we won’t overwrite each other.
For Astute Users
Now that we have the basic techniques out of the way, here’s where our team of Dropbox experts get into the intermediate stuff:
Learn the keyboard shortcuts: Just like any application where you’re a power user, you can work much more efficiently with shortcuts, jumping all over the place by pressing just a few keys. For example, you can show/hide deleted files just by pressing “d.” Move up a directory with the letter “u.” Check out all 13 keyboard shortcuts here.
Password/Vault synching: Apps such as 1Password, KeePass and Tiny Password will let you store your secrets in your Dropbox, and then access them from any other device where you have these applications installed. Or, do like we do and use LastPass, a browser plug-in that performs all the synchronization in the cloud for you itself.
Sync between desktop and iOS device: Here’s what one expert called “beautiful, quick syncing,” where you never have to click “save” to save your notes. Mac users, he recommends using Notational Velocity on the desktop and PlainText on any IOS device to sync notes through Dropbox. For PC users, you can store notes in .txt format (using an applet like Notepad) and save them in Dropbox, where you can open them using the PlainText app (which we love) on your iOS device.
For Smarty Pants Users
Now we get into the advanced techniques. Here’s the most unusual tip we got from our experts, this from one of Dropbox’s sales team:
Sync music for your car: As our expert tells it, “I’m using Dropbox to sync a small netbook in the trunk of my car with my music library, and then have that connected to my head unit for playback. Anytime I’ve added new music to the library on my home PC, the next time I get in my car I will set my Android phone as a mobile hotspot, use that to hook the netbook up online, and I have the local Dropbox account on the machine selectively synced out of every folder except my music. It syncs the new music while I’m driving around and I now have way more songs in my car than I could ever fit on an iPod, including my favorite new edition of Arcadio.”
Chrome data syncing: Chrome browser users, try moving your Chrome data file to Dropbox, and your entire session — everything, including windows and settings, opens just how you want on any other computer. Our expert warns of a downside, though: conflicted copies of your settings files if Chrome is open on two computers at the same time. Here’s more info for the adventurous.
For Techno-Gods Only
Abandon all hope all ye who enter here, well, unless you’re a techno-guru. Here’s the granddaddy tip of them all, a way to get remote desktop access to all of your machines by using Windows Server 2008, straight from the upper echelons of Dropbox:
Compute anywhere: “One of the lesser known features of Windows Server 2008 R2 (and the currently-in-beta Windows Home Server “Vail” which is based on R2) is called RemoteApp. Basically it allows you to launch a self-contained streaming instance of an application that is installed on the server and delivered via
a remote desktop session where you only see the app on the client side.
“It’s cool because, on a Windows machine, it can be run one of two ways: via an RDP file, or taking it a step further, using an MSI installer package which makes it look like the app is installed on the local machine, complete with file associations. You can also run multiple instances from multiple remote locations at the same time. This is particularly cool for special file types like PSD’s where it may not be convenient or possible to install the app on the remote machine.
“Tying in to Dropbox, I had two folders: one called RDP and one called MSI. I was able to take my apps with me anywhere and if it was a Windows machine I had control of, I was able to “install” the remote app as well. The end goal was to be able to remotely launch a single copy of iTunes from anywhere and possibly even map the USB ports (you can set that up when you make the MSI) so I could sync my iPhone remotely. It was also great for controlling apps that needed some horsepower (i.e. Handbrake) from much more underpowered devices.”
Commenters, let us know how these tips worked for you, and tell us more ways to get the most out of Dropbox.
We’d like to thank all those at Dropbox who helped us prepare this post.
Since Facebook is where Americans spend more time than anywhere else on the Internet, our needs as social media marketers as well as professionals to stay on top of the latest trends in 2010 regarding the social media gorilla are as important as ever. While I limited my similar top blog posts on Twitter and LinkedIn to 20, so many people had so much resourceful information to provide on FB that I felt the need to expand this blog post to include the top 30 most useful articles this year. Because Facebook gives anyone the ability to create a mini-web site on their platform as a Page, I included many blog posts that talk about everything from how to create one, customize it, and then use it as your base for social media engagement.
You may wonder why I go through the trouble of compiling and writing these posts, but the answer is simple: Our industry is changing so fast and there are so many blog posts and tweets out there that I want to make sure to provide a guideline to my readers, and myself, of those must-read articles that will help everybody keep pace or get up-to-speed in learning about the latest thinking surrounding any given social media platform. The end-of-the-year is the perfect time to do this.
My algorithm for determining these blog posts is the same as previous ones, and once again I have tried my best to organize them into categories for you. Although I didn???t write as many posts about this site as I did about Twitter and LinkedIn, where appropriate I will introduce my own writings as well in case you missed them.
Personal Profile Tips and Tricks
10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks by Amy-Mae Elliott [4,225]
Jazz up your profile through a few nifty tricks. Read about how to tag people in updates, pre-schedule posts with Later Bro, turn your status updates into a tag cloud, and more.
20 Facebook Tips/Tricks You Might Not Know from Hongkiat [3,302]
Some great tips here on getting more out of Facebook from outside of the social platform from creating friend collages to removing Facebook advertisements from your profile view.
How To Mass Export All Of Your Facebook Friends??? Private Email Addresses by Michael Arrington [1,466]
If you???ve ever wanted to get the contact details of your FB friends, now you can. There are quite a few gems in the comments as well, like using those ???missing??? contacts to increase your LinkedIn network and syncing this with your Google Contacts and phone address book for a ???holistic??? address book.
How To Recreate That Facebook Profile Picture Hack by Alexia Tsotsis [1,302]
Jealous of the new ???sliced??? profile pics some people have been showing off at the top of their new professional profile? You can have that on your profile as well through a few Photoshop steps introduced in this post.
The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now by Sarah Perez [1,188]
If you care about privacy at all, you only need to take 5 minutes to get your profile info in order and keep it away from snooping eyes. A classic post from ReadWriteWeb which is still relevant today and was featured in the New York Times when first published earlier this year.
I wrote a post about the increasing amount of spam you might be receiving and how to deal with it here: Understanding Those Mysterious FB Spam Messages You May Be Receiving 
25 Tips for Killer Facebook Marketing by Justin Stravarius 
This is a great article from Appstorm that should get you started thinking about how to use Facebook above and beyond merely launching a Page. It???s crammed with tips from snagging a vanity URL to posting user experiences, all of which will help get your business noticed socially.
I published two posts this year that go beyond the genre of simply developing a Page and instead thinking outside of the box for marketing on this social media site:
Page Design & Development
HOW TO: Build a Facebook Landing Page for Your Business by Matt Silverman [2,570]
Don???t let your company???s Page look like everyone else???s. Crank up the customization a notch by adding a tab (or three) using FBML. Mashable contributes a short but informative article on how to do so with little effort.
Designing A Facebook Fan Page: Showcases, Tutorials, Resources by Julia May [2.381]
This is probably one of the most definitive guides out there of best practices in designing visually stunning and effective Fan Pages from our friends at Smashing Magazine. The great looking landing tabs that are showcased here are truly inspiring.
The 12 Best Ways To Customize Your Facebook Pages by Orli Yakuel [1,768]
You don???t have to hack it out on your own to get a custom Page operating. Check out this selection of web services that will help you edit to impress.
How to Build Engaging One-of-Kind Facebook Fan Pages by Orli Yakuel [1,687]
This Techcrunch article bundles up a lot of great advice on how to grab the attention of your FB fans and visitors. Unsurprisingly, it???s all about great content, but it???s the way in which you develop your Page that can foster this.
How to Customize Your Facebook Page Using Static FBML by Nick Shin 
Another in depth look on how to utilize Static FBML in personalizing your Page, this time coming from Social Media Examiner. Dig into this for a little more detailed look at tips like embedding YouTube videos and creating images with clickable links for your Page.
10 Tips & Tricks For You
r Business???s Facebook Fan Page by Michael Vreeken 
More tips on tricks on FBML programming on your Page to include elements such as hiding content from non-fans, inserting Flash content, and adding a ???Invite Your Friends??? box.
Creating a custom facebook fan page from Webdigi 
The power of Static FBML is showcased by this short tutorial for more advanced developers, showing how to do things in your Page such as create a carousel, submit a web form, and even customize a dialogue box.
7 FBML examples to rock your Facebook fan page from Webdistortion 
This top blog post contains even more FBML code samples to help make your Page a true marketing powerhouse, from randomizing marketing messages (great for experimenting with new ideas) to adding sharing buttons to make it more viral.
Top 75 Apps for Enhancing Your Facebook Page by Mari Smith 
Stop the press!!! This is the definitive post, just published two days ago, of the best Page applications that are out there. And it was written by Mari Smith. Enough said.
Google Analytics for Facebook Fan Pages from Webdigi [2,923]
Google Analytics shouldn???t just be about analyzing your main website anymore. The folks over at Webdigi were crafty enough to devise a solution that lets you use Google???s flagship web analysis tool to analyze activity on your Page on the most popular social network in the world.
How to Add Google Analytics to Your Facebook Fan Page by Mariam John [2,266]
Another tutorial of the same with a little more hand-holding and images published by Social Media Examiner but still based on Webdigi???s code.
21 Creative Ways To Increase Your Facebook Fanbase by Mari Smith [3,312]
Funnel people into your Page using all the social muscle you can muster through these tips. Both traditional and new media techniques are listed here, so there are no excuses for saying you can???t deploy any of these techniques.
5 Fantastic Facebook Fan Page Ideas to Learn From by Matt Silverman [1,664]
Ranging from the simple to the full-on website experience, Mashable presents ideas from some of the most engaged landing pages on FB. If you???ve been stumped on what approach you should take, this should kick start your idea machine.
Altimeter Report: The 8 Success Criteria For Facebook Page Marketing by Jeremiah Owyang [1,355]
While not a how-to per se, this report should still be able to give you an idea on what works vis a vis engagement in the realm of Pages. Based on excellent research from Jeremiah Owyang and the thought leaders at Altimeter Group, this report includes an analysis of 30 brands to learn from.
How to Better Engage Facebook Fan Page ???Fans??? by Mari Smith [1,245]
Getting noticed online is primarily about two things: content and conversations. This post shares a lot of insight on how to succeed using those two things using a plethora of examples. Another definitive post from Mari Smith.
How We Got To 40,310 Facebook Fans In 4 Days by Dennis Yu 
A step-by-step analytical case study of how one company grew their Fan base by over 40,000 in 4 days primarily through a clever Facebook Ad campaign.
When Are Facebook Users Most Active? [STUDY] by Christina Warren [4,030]
Facebook is touted by some as ???now??? media ??? meaning you need to be engaging users at the same time they are on the site for it to be effective. Check out when you should be posting to get the best results through this Mashable analysis.
The Biggest Brands on Facebook [INFOGRAPHIC] by Shane Snow [2,902]
A very interesting infographic about the biggest brands on FB. Amazingly, some of the brands you see most often on TV and on billboards aren???t in the list. Check out how many Likes you need to be counted on top.
What ???Like??? Buttons Mean for Web Traffic [STATS] by Jolie O???Dell [2,385]
How exactly has the ubiquitous thumbs-up icon been affecting Internet traffic? Here???s a rundown of the numbers straight from the source.
World Map Of Social Networks Shows Facebook???s Ever-Increasing Dominance by Robin Wauters [2,275]
The big blue social machine is slowly toppling off other networks as shown in this series of maps from June, 2009 to December, 2010. Will 2011 see the entire world converted into FBdom?
Facebook directs more online users than Google by Benny Evangelista [2,267]
Although this article was written back in February, it is still relevant for marketers to understand the importance that a Facebook presence has attached to it not just for engagement but also for leading potential customers to your website.
Facebook News Feed Settings: Random or Not, Biggest Secrets Revealed by Thomas E. Weber [1,808]
Appearing in the News Feed of all of your Fans is a marketer???s dream but rarely happens in reality. Read more about how to accomplish this by discovering FB???s biggest secrets as to how they determine what gets placed into who???s News Feed through one website???s experiment.
How Much Is a Facebook Fan Really Worth? by Mathew Ingram [1,718]
The answer? $136.38, more or less. A controversial study that is required reading for any social media marketer.
Facebook, By The Numbers by Alexia Tsotsis [1,064]
The history of the world???s favorite social destination featured in this definitive infographic which has almost everything you???ve wanted to know about the site and more.
You may also want to check out my analysis of FB Places: Facebook Places Analysis: 3 Reasons Why FB Will Continue to Be Your Aggregator of Social Information .
This guest post is by HubSpot???s social media scientist, Dan Zarrella.
Of all the data analysis that I???ve done, day-of-week and time-of-day data has been consistently the most popular. So in preparation for my upcoming webinar, titled Science of Blogging, I decided to combine all of my existing data on timing with my new research into one master post on the subject.
The first time I looked at blog post timing was when I was analyzing retweets. I found that retweets exhibit a strong diurnal pattern, in that they???re more common during the day and less so at night. I noticed that retweet activity tended to peak around 4pm EST, suggesting that this might be the best time to tweet a blog post for maximum potential retweet reach.
When I looked at retweet activity over the days of the week, I saw that they peaked later in the work week, specifically on Friday.
Since I first published this graph, the most frequently cited piece of this research has been the idea that Friday at 4pm is the most retweetable time of the week. While your niche maybe different, this data was based on analysis of nearly 100 million retweets, so in aggregate, Friday at 4pm is indeed the most retweetable time of the week.
Moving on from retweets, I started studying Facebook sharing and discovered some things that surprised me about timing there, too.
First, while major news sites and blogs publish articles during the work week, articles that are published on Saturday and Sunday tend to be shared on Facebook more than those published during the week. Perhaps one reason for this is that (as Wired reported), more than 50% of American companies block Facebook at work.
Next, I looked at the effect that the time articles were published had on the number of times they were shared on Facebook. I found that while there is a fair amount of variation, articles published in the morning, around 9a.m. EST, tended to be shared more on Facebook than articles published at other times of the day.
Looking back at these four data points, it may seem that they???re contradictory, but thinking through them a bit more, we can see that they is not necessarily so. Both day-of-week charts tell us that we should experiment with publishing articles later in the week???on Friday and Saturday specifically.
And by publishing posts early in the day, but tweeting them later in the afternoon, we can stimulate both Facebook shares and retweets.
I recently did a survey of over 1,400 blog readers and I asked them what time-of-day they read blogs. Morning was the most popular, followed in decreasing popularity by the rest of the day. Most respondents reported reading blogs at more than one time, so this piece of data reinforces my suggestion to publish early in the morning.
The best timing advice, however, may actually be around frequency. Last week, I analyzed 1000 of the most popular blogs on the web, according to Technorati. I compared their posting frequency with the number of incoming links and visitors they had attracted (according to Yahoo and Compete).
I found that among very popular blogs, publishing multiple times per day led to a huge increase in a blog???s success. This tells us that rather than focusing one perfect day or time, we should aim to publish at many times, and on many days.
Have you experimented with post timing and tweeting? What has your experience shown about the best times of day or week to reach your readers?
Dan Zarrella is HubSpot???s social media scientist. This post contains data from his upcoming webinar The Science of Blogging, taking place on December 9th.
Must read for every blogger. Main learnings: