I recall many years ago preparing for committee meetings. We’d photocopy loads of papers, collate them, and then stuff them into envelopes and send them out a week or two in advance.
If any committee members had prepared papers for the meeting they would need to post them to us beforehand to be included in the copying and posting.
Email made a temporary difference
Then email came along and made it all easier for a while. Committee members could email in their documents and everything could be emailed out in bulk, or perhaps added to a protected web page to be downloaded.
Then spammers wrecked everything. The chances now of an email reaching its destination aren’t always high, especially with attachments.
But the good news is that there’s a much easier, more efficient and free way to exchange selected files with a limited group of people. And it doesn’t matter whether they use Mac, Windows or Linux, as it works the same for all platforms.
Use Dropbox to share folders
Dropbox is an online service that synchronises the files you add to a particular folder.
That means files in that folder are available to you and anyone authorised to share it. Here’s how sharing a folder works.
Let’s say your committee has 5 people, plus you. You all need certain files. Some the other members of the committee will provide and some come from you.
- Everyone installs the free Dropbox software on their computer.
- You create a folder inside your main Dropbox folder. Let’s say that folder’s named CommitteeFiles.
- You log on to the Dropbox website and click on the CommitteeFiles folder in your list of folders and files. The folder opens, and a Toolbar near the top of the web page includes a button labelled Invite to folder.
- Click the Invite to folder button. A window appears where you can enter email addresses and a message. Add the email addresses of your 5 committee members.
Each person you’ve invited will receive an email message from Dropbox and must click a link to accept the invitation.
Once an invited person accepts, the CommitteeFiles folder will appear inside the Dropbox folder on their computer.
Now any file added to that CommitteeFiles folder by anyone authorised to access the folder will automatically turn up inside the CommitteeFiles folder on each person’s computer.
It’s magic: add files to a folder to share them
That means that now committee members simply add their files to the folder and everyone quickly sees those files in the folder on their own computer. You also add files for everyone to use. It’s like magic and is incredibly easy.
Beware Internet limits
The files are all being transferred over the Internet. Don’t add huge files such as full-size long videos without checking what effect it’ll have on participants Internet plans. Ordinary text files, PDFs and the like should be fine.
Other tips about Dropbox
See also my articles:
- How to share photos easily with Dropbox
- Share files easily with Dropbox
- Rescue messed up files — with Dropbox
- How to access your files from anywhere — with Dropbox
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, September 2011. This article has been modified for publication here.