MacMost Now 800: Putting Files On Your iPhone With DropBox

Often the fastest and easiest way to get a document to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is to use DropBox. This service and free app allow you to sync a folder between your computer and your iOS device using the free app. So you can quickly drag and drop files to your DropBox folder and then they will appear on your iOS device. You can use the app to view a variety of file types.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 800: Putting Files On Your iPhone With DropBox.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let me show you how to use Dropbox to quickly put files on your iPhone or iPad.

So there are many methods to get files from your computer to your iPhone. But not all of them are convenient. For instance, the iCloud method only works with certain Apps.

You have to have Pages on your Mac, Pages on your iPhone and then you can use iCloud to have a document that is shared between them. Some third party Apps allow you to transfer documents through iTunes when you sync and some third party applications will also sync by themselves over the internet, say like Evernote.

But say you just want to get a quick document to your iPhone. You want to do this really fast before you leave the house. I find the best way to do this is to use Dropbox and I have been using this feature for a long time. Let me show you.

So here I am on my Mac and I've gone to my Dropbox folder. I've got Dropbox installed on my Mac, its running, and I've signed up for an account. Then on my iPhone I have also downloaded the Dropbox app and I've signed in with this app using the same account. So these two folders will stay in sync.

So here I have this pdf file. Say it is a map to somewhere. It's on my computer and I'm about to run out the door and I want to make sure I have this map available on my iPhone. So I'm going to drag and drop it into my Dropbox folder and it will sync with my Dropbox account. So now it is available, in the Cloud, inside of Dropbox.

Now over here on the iOS side of things it will sync to the iOS device once it is completely uploaded to the Cloud. You can see it is still syncing there. Now it is uploaded to the Cloud so now over here I should see it appear and I'm going to just force it to appear really quickly here by just switching. I'm going to go over to another screen, say Favorites, and then back to Dropbox and you can see there it forces an update and I've got it available.

Now at this point it is available in the List there but it is not actually on my iPhone so I have two choices. One I can run out the door and then when I want to view it I can tap it there in the app and it will download wirelessly to my Dropbox app. Or I can actually do it right now really quickly while I'm still on WiFi at home and it will load much faster, because I'm on WiFi, and I get the map right there. Now the cool thing is, is that I leave, I'm on the road, and I want to refer to the map. The map is loaded on the iPhone. It won't throw it away. So if I want to access it again you can see it is not gong to download it again. It is going to appear there rather quickly.

So the two advantages of using Dropbox like this are: Number One. It is very quick and easy to get things to your iPhone. After you have this set up you can just basically drag things that you want to share onto your iPhone into your Dropbox folder on your Mac. Or save a copy of them there if you want to. Then you won't have to worry about things on the iPhone side. You just know that the next time you access Dropbox you will be able to get to those.

The second thing is that if you want to actually have them preloaded on your iPhone so that you don't have to use your wireless band width or even rely on having any connection at all you can download it right there by just viewing it and then it is kind of cached there on your iPhone.

Now also notice in doing this it shows that Dropbox is in fact a pdf viewer. Because I am viewing that pdf in the Dropbox. So you may ask what other types of files can I view in Dropbox. Actually there is quite a long list. If you go to the Dropbox web site it will show you that yes pdf files are supported. But also there is Keynote, Pages, Microsoft Powerpoint. It does videos, it does different music files, different image files, even html files and things like rtf documents. So you have a lot of different types of files, perhaps all the different ones that you use, that you can view then in Dropbox. So you can drag and drop them in Dropbox and know they will be available for viewing on your iPhone without any complex system of having to sync.

I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 10 Responses to “MacMost Now 800: Putting Files On Your iPhone With DropBox”

    Michael Wheless
    6 years ago

    Gary, Congratulations on another milestone. Pretty cool, 800 podcasts and all quite useful. I’m amazed at how many times I view your podcasts and get good advice. I have used Dropbox based on one of your previous podcasts and been very happy with it.

    Query as to use of “favorites”. Is there any benefit to using favorites on my iPad? I have been using it thinking it would save a copy.

      6 years ago

      Thanks! I think Favorites is just a list — like a playlist in iTunes or an album in iPhoto. It is just a convenience.

        Donald Geiling
        6 years ago

        According to help on the dropbox website, marking a file as a favorite (the star at the bottom of the screen) also puts the file on your iPhone for offline viewing.

    John Blake
    6 years ago

    We ordered iPad 4th Gens for all our 40 teachers. They are to arrive in Jan. I have been sharing your great tutorials with tea hers that have iPhones and have purchased their own iPads. I don’t get much feed-back from them. I think they must be watching them, since they don’t ask be how to do stuff. Maybe they just play angry birds or ask their children how to do stuff on them. Keep me coming. Maybe a “2013 Best iOS apps for the productivty show.”

    6 years ago

    Hello. The method I’ve come to rely on is to send things via iMessage to myself (mac to phone). Although it may not be free for some? Videos,pic’s, and pdf’s seem to work just fine for me but I’m going to try your method next. Thanks.

    6 years ago

    Thanks for another great video, Gary. I’m wondering why use Dropbox when Evernote does basically them same thing? I’ve been using Evernote for a year and LOVE it, but have just started using Dropbox very recently.

      6 years ago

      Seems to me to be more convenient to place a file in a folder on my Mac and then have it appear on my iPhone. Evernote can do the same basic thing, and more, but not in exactly that way.

    Donald Geiling
    6 years ago

    With iOS6, you can now open password protected files, i.e file asks for a password and then opens. Not available previously.

    Joseph Odom
    6 years ago

    I’ve been using Dropbox for a while now and one thing it does that you didn’t mention is that if a file type is not supported by Dropbox but there is an app that will open it, you can use Dropbox to do that. For example, I have a Smartboard in my classroom and use Notebook files to show lessons to my students. There is also a Notebook iPad app. Dropbox will not let me preview the Notebook file but it will let me open the Notebook file on my iPad using Dropbox.

      6 years ago

      Actually, that is really a function of the other app — the one that registered itself to open that type of document. You will find it also works in Mail, for instance as long as the app has told your iPhone that it can handle that type of document.

Comments Closed.