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Habilis Enables Email-to-Dropbox Capability

I rely on Dropbox for synchronizing files between machines and maintaining a backup of important files. The Dropbox for iPad app allows me to access my files on the iPad, but until recently it was difficult to get a file into Dropbox from an iPad app that doesn't explicitly support Dropbox.

Taking advantage of the Dropbox API, Habilis has created a simple service that lets you email files to a personalized address and have them appear in your Dropbox. (Dropbox competitor SugarSync also recently instituted this feature, but I prefer Dropbox and it's used by most of my colleagues for sharing files.)

  1. Go to the Habilis site and click the Connect to Dropbox link.
  2. At the Dropbox site, log in if you're not already connected and confirm that you want Habilis to use your account.
  3. Return to the Habilis site, where you'll see a custom email address for you to use.

  4. Add the address to Address Book and then sync the iPad or wait for MobileMe to sync wirelessly if you've enabled that feature.

To test the service, do the following:

  1. Open an app on the iPad, such as Pages, and create a new document.
  2. Return to the My Documents screen, make the document frontmost, and tap the Share menu.
  3. Tap the Send via Mail button.
  4. Choose a file format, such as Pages or Word (this step is specific to the Pages app).
  5. In the outgoing message that's created, enter the Habilis email address and tap the Send button.

Within a few minutes (depending on your network connection and the size of the file), the file appears in a new folder called From Habilis within your Dropbox folder.

(Thanks to Chuq Von Rospach and Ian Betteridge for alerting me to this great service.)


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Comments about Habilis Enables Email-to-Dropbox Capability
(Comments are closed.)

Barbara Smith  2010-06-14 19:26
do you know if this funtionality will work if anyone emails files to the address?
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-14 20:29
I just tried it, and yes, files from anyone to that address are added.
What do you mean with "until now there was no method for getting files back to the Dropbox folder from the iPad"? There are bunch of 3rd party Apps that allow you to upload files to Dropbox. One of the cheapest ($0.99) and best ones is GoodReader. If the file is not already in GoodReader you can import it from a server (mail or otherwise) or just via the "Open in" dialog.
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-15 00:50
GoodReader is indeed good for reading, but that's not what I'm talking about. Let's say I want to edit a Word document and save it to my dropbox. In the Pages example I cite, without the Habilis service, you can't do it. Pages will save a copy to, or you can export a copy that can be transferred via iTunes later when connected to the computer and THEN copied to your Dropbox. Insanity.

If you know of a third-party app that uploads to Dropbox, please let me know.

Documents To Go offers Dropbox support, but so far I've been unable to get it to log in to the site on two iPads using two different Dropbox accounts.
But that's just the problem of Pages because it doesn't offer the "Open in" dialog in it's document browser. For example you can create a Word document in Documents To Go and then open it (via "Open in") in GoodReader and then use GoodReader to transfer your files to your Dropbox. Of course DTG has native Dropbox support so this doesn't make sense in reality, but it's just an example. GoodReader is just an example too, Readdle Docs, Air Sharing HD etc. also work well. And other programs like Quickoffice or Documents to Go have built in support too.
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-16 23:49
Perhaps I'm overlooking something obvious (or it's something hidden away?), but I can't see any way to use GoodReader to transfer files to Dropbox. How are you doing this Mikey?

I haven't looked at a Readdle or Air Sharing, but unless they can access the walled-off areas where apps like Pages or Keynote (or OmniGraffle; we aren't limited to just "Office" style apps) store their files, the only reliable way to send files to Dropbox is by email.

One thing worth noting: I did get Dropbox support to work in Documents To Go. My login issue was presumably a temporary glitch.
In GoodReader go to "Connect to Servers" in the right column, tap on "Add", then "Dropbox", then enter you login data. Now you can access Dropbox with GoodReader. To upload something to GoodReader select the files you want to transfer via "Manage Files", mark and then copy them. Then open Dropbox and paste (down right corner).

But as I mentioned you're right in regard to Pages etc. The only way to transfer something from these walled-off areas to Dropbox is by E-Mail. But this seems to be an issue mostly with Apple's iWork Apps because they don't offer the "Open in" dialog like most other Apps do in their file browsers. At least that's my experience so far.

So to go back to the start of this discussion: if you just add the word "universal" to your sentence then I'm okay with it :-) "until now there was no UNIVERSAL way for getting files back to the Dropbox folder from the iPad".