I’ve been hearing a lot lately about a service named Droplr. This service allows you to very quickly shorten URLs and share images, audio, video, notes, and other files (like PDF, DOC, or XLS files).
Initially I didn’t think this service would benefit me that much because I’m a long-time user of other services (like Dropbox). However, once I started looking into the features I realized it packs some extra power that other file share programs don’t have.
Once registered with a username and password, you should install the software on your Mac or PC. The software is simple installation that is self-explanatory. Once installed, it adds an icon on the menu bar on the Mac or on the system tray on a PC.
How does it work?
Follow these simple steps to get started:
- Choose a file from your computer.
- Drag it to the menu bar or system tray icon.
- Paste the link and share it with others.
Dropping the file on the icon prompts the software to upload it to the Droplr service and to create a drop. It generates a short URL (http://d.pr/code) for the drop that points to basic webpage that displays the file you uploaded. The short URL is automatically copied to your clipboard. You can share the link with others in any way you choose by pasting it.
Droplr Free versus Pro
After I started using Droplr I decided to upgrade to a “Pro” account for a fee ($9.99/month) to get the extra features. The table below compares the features of each account type:
|File Size Limits||2GB||2GB|
|Custom Branding (Logo)||Yes||No|
Practical Uses for Droplr
The service seems quite simple because it is. The magic is in the possibilities. Here’s a short list of some great uses for Droplr:
- As a URL shortener — There are many URL shortener services to choose from. Very few of these services are as multi-functional and as simple to use as Droplr.
- Instead of emailing files — Upload your attachment to Droplr and include a link to the file instead of attaching it to the email. This has many advantages: file sizes up to 1GB (Pro), password protection (Pro), revoke link by deleting it at a later date, all email attachments in one place, etc.
- Quickly share files — Share pretty much any type of file online quickly. I can’t stress enough how fast it is. Saving time is what productivity is all about.
- Sharing files securely (Pro) — Add a layer of protection to certain files by specifying a password in order to access it. For security purposes you should send the password to the user in another method. Maybe email the link and send a text message with the password.
- Embed files (Pro)— You can embed the file on a webpage by adding the plus (+) symbol at the end of the URL. (This option is explained in greater detail below.)
- Use your own domain (Pro) — Enhance your appearance and look more professional by using a custom domain with your Droplr account. (This option is explained in greater detail below.)
- Create screenshots — Click on the Droplr menubar icon and choose the “screenshot” option to create a screenshot and share it in one step.
Option 1: Display File on Droplr Page
Sharing the Droplr URL for the file will prompt the user to be taken to a Droplr webpage where they can download or view the file.
In the example on the right I have shared an audio file. You can see in the example that based on the filetype it gives the user the option of downloading or playing the file.
As another example, if the file is an image then the image itself will be displayed with a simple, clean frame on the page.
Option 2: Linking to the Actual File
This is a less-known option that is incredibly useful. Appending a plus symbol (+) at the end of the URL triggers Droplr to open the file rather than displaying the website where the user has the option to download it.
In the example above I didn’t include the + which displayed the webpage where I had the option of downloading or playing the audio file. If I appended the plus symbol at the end of the URL it would automatically play the audio file instead.
This feature becomes particularly useful when you consider using Droplr to host images for your website. Using the HTML code below would embed an image file onto your website. Notice the + symbol at the end of the Droplr URL.
<img src="http://d.pr/code+" />
Setting Up Custom Domain (Pro)
Custom domains allow you to have your links look like http://mydomain.com/code rather than http://d.pr/code. This gives you an enhanced image of professionalism.
- You need to purchase a domain specifically for this purpose. Domains are typically around $10/year. I recommend using Name.com to purchase domains. They are a very reputable service with no hidden fees. (Be weary of domain registrars that advertise ultra low-cost domain registrations. If you read the fine print you’ll find this typically means they overcharge you to renew in future years.)
- Update the DNS settings with your domain registrar to create an A record that points to IP address 220.127.116.11. This process will be slightly different for each registrar. In general, you should find the DNS management section of the control panel. Even if you don’t know what adding an A record means you would probably be able to figure it out.
- Update your Droplr settings to add your custom URL (Pro account required).
What about Cloud App or Dropbox?
There are other services that are similar in features to Droplr.
- Droplr vs Cloud App — Cloud App is a similar service with some slight disadvantages. Free accounts have a limit of 10 files per day whereas Droplr has no limit as long as you don’t go over storage limits. Pro accounts have 250MB file size limits whereas Droplr has 2GB file size limits. Cloud App Pro accounts are slightly more expensive than Droplr Pro. In addition, the embed option that Droplr offers doesn’t seem to be available from Cloud App.
- Droplr vs Dropbox — Dropbox is a great service that I use everyday. However, I believe the strengths of Dropbox are more about either (1) keeping a file structure in sync across multiple devices or (2) sharing a file structure with a person or team of people. Similar sharing can be accomplished on Dropbox but it isn’t as flexible or quick.