Your Dropbox Questions Answered

During the recent program “How to… Use Dropbox for File Management” (now available for free in the archives for CBA members) I received a number of great followup questions. Here they are, with my answers.

Q: My opposing counsel sent some documents to me in (I think) Dropbox and the email notice said access would expire after 48 hours. Is this common?

A: I can’t find any way to make a file expire via a link or shared folder in Dropbox. It must have been another service. I know in Hightail (fka YouSendIt) you can set a file to expire, as well as Acrobat SendNow – both popular services to share large files.

Q: Is it possible to use Dropbox to backup e-mail correspondence and folders, say from Outlook? I have been using Dropbox for a few months already but cannot figure out how could I achieve that. Thanks!

A: In MS Outlook you can set an automatic archive to save the .pst file to Dropbox. See these instructions: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/830119. You can do this for all folders, or just specific folders.

Another option is to use Adobe Acrobat Pro to save emails and/or folders to PDF and then save them to a local drive or to Dropbox. In MS Outlook 2010, if you have Adobe Acrobat X Pro installed, right click on an individual email or on a folder. In the resulting drop down menu you should see the option to “convert to PDF”. Just follow the instructions on the screen and set the save location as a Dropbox folder. Or click on the Adobe PDF tab in MS Outlook to set automatic archives for folders.

I prefer the PDF format to .pst because you can open a PDF with any PDF reader, whereas you can only open .pst folders with MS Outlook (or a third party viewer).

Q: Can we limit a shared file with a client to “read only”?

A: Whether providing a link to a file with a client, or sharing a folder of documents with a client, Dropbox does not offer a “read only” function. You can send a client a link to a file – versus sharing a folder with a client – and they can view the file OR download it. So, if they download it they can edit it – if you don’t protect it first. You can accomplish that by restricting the original file before you make it available to clients via Dropbox.

Before sharing a MS Word file in Dropbox:

In MS Word 2010 go to the “Review” tab and choose “restrict editing” and then choose “no changes (read only)” from the drop down menu, like this:

restricteditingmsword

Before sharing a PDF in Dropbox:

In Adobe Acrobat X go to File – Properties and choose the “security” tab. Choose “password security” from the drop down menu and you will get this screen:

restricteditingadobeacrobat

Under Permissions check “restrict editing…” and create a password (which will allow you to make changes, but not anyone else). Then choose if you want to allow printing or not, and keep the default “Changes Allowed: None”.

If you have older versions of these software applications you still can modify permissions, they are just in a slightly different place.

Q: I set up my own Dropbox account, and then my boss shared some doc’s with me via Dropbox. However, I can only access the doc’s he shared with me via a link in the e-mail he sent me. I cannot access them through my own Dropbox account. Does this make sense, and do you know how this may have happened?

A: This issue points to the difference between sharing a link and inviting collaborators to a folder in Dropbox. In order for you to see the files he puts in his Dropbox folder that he wants you to have access to in your Dropbox he must go to Dropbox (screenshots are from the web interface) and right click on the folder he wants to share with you. He will see this menu:

shareversuslink

Then instead of choosing “share link” choose “invite to folder”. He will get a dialog box and will put in your email address and a note (if he likes). Then you will both have access to that folder. If he makes a change to any of the documents on his hard drive, and the folder is synchronized, then you will have access to the latest versions of the documents.

Do you have a question about Dropbox or another technology? Got something to add to the answers above? Let me know in the comments!

Five Ways to Send a Better Email Message

We all know that person who constantly sends emails that lack a subject line. Or who sends rambling, lengthy emails that don’t seem to have a point. And there are those who send emails with open ended questions that require a game of email ping pong. You would never do any of those things – would you?

Sending a clear, concise and actionable email is the best way to get a proper response. Here are five ways to make sure your recipients open, read, and respond to your messages.

Power up the free Google Calendar

There’s plenty to take advantage of in the free Google Calendar—features like creating and sharing multiple calendars, “quick add” smart appointments and the ability to make calendars public. In this article I dig in to unearth a few neat tricks to integrate your Calendar more tightly with Gmail and Tasks. With some exploring and clicking, you will find the free Google Calendar and productivity tools are quite robust, and with a little know-how, have more integration than meets the eye. Check it out … 

Want more? Watch the training video from the Chicago Bar Association and check out these articles and resources:

BYOD: iPad (Bring Your Own Device)

The iPad is quickly becoming a “must-have” for every lawyer. It’s more than a Smartphone but not quite a laptop…it’s more like an “electronic legal pad.” Lawyers are finding the iPad to be the perfect tool for reading books, annotating documents, taking notes, catching-up on news, surfing the Web, giving presentations, and a myriad of other tasks. Whether you’ve had an iPad for one week or one year, you’ll learn something new in this half day seminar. Bring your iPad for a hands-on environment as our expert and panelists walk you through the apps you need and how to use them.

Learn how the iPad can become an essential part of your daily workflow:

• Introduction and tour of the iPad
• Recommended settings for the iPad
• Uploading documents to the iPad
• The 10 “Must-Have” iPad apps for lawyers
• Presentations and the iPad in the courtroom
• iPad peripherals (case, keyboard, etc)
• And much more!

See demos of iPad apps for lawyers from sponsors:

TrialWorks Case Management Software app for litigators
Total Attorneys practice management app
Lexis Advance legal research app

Speaker:

Brett Burney, J.D., Burney Consultants LLC, Cleveland
Burney received his B.A. from the University of North Texas and his J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law. He is the founder of his firm and provides professional consulting services for electronic discovery, litigation support and trial technology to corporate executives and legal professionals. Prior to establishing his firm, Burney spent five years at Thompson Hine LLP in Cleveland. He is a frequent speaker at numerous legal technology conferences and is a well-respected author on legal technology topics.

PLUS! ABA Law Practice Management Section will be on hand with the hugely popular “iPad in One Hour” book series including: iPad in One Hour (2nd edition), iPad Apps in One Hour and pre-sales of iPad in One Hour for Litigators.

This program will be at the Chicago Bar Association on Monday, November 19, 2013 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Sign up now before it fills up!

Asana vs. Trello: Checklist Collaboration Tools Compared

My new article in Attorney at Work: Asana vs. Trello: Checklist Collaboration Tools Compared

In his book The Checklist Manifesto, surgeon Atul Gawande asserts that checklists are a “cognitive net,” a mechanism that can help prevent experienced people from making errors due to flawed memory and attention, and ensure that teams work together. Or, as Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame put it, “the book’s main point is simple: no matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes.”

In a law office, checklists help reduce errors and increase efficiency. They ensure that work is done, and in an order that makes the most sense. They can also be used as part of a task management system, showing each person in the organization how her responsibilities on the checklist affect the entire procedure. Two collaboration tools that specifically focus on lists and tasks were recently launched online. One, Asana, created by former Facebook employees, provides a web-based “to do” list for up to 30 people to share. The other, Trello, lets users create shared boards with task cards. Both are free.

So which one is better for task and project management based on procedural checklists? Let’s compare.

Tab.bz Chrome Extension for Collecting Browser Tabs

Recently Mashable posted an article on 8 Google Chrome Extensions to Boost Your Productivity. While many were useful, the one that stood out to me was the “Tab Packager” Tab.bz.  This Google Chrome extension allows you to create a short URL that captures all the open browser tabs in Google. Opening the short URL then shows all the tabbed website links on a single page, or you can have Chrome open all the links in seperate tabs. A couple of ways this could be used include:

  • Send a client a Tab.bz link to point to multiple websites instead of copying and pasting the links into an email
  • Bookmark or favorite a Tab.bz link in your browser to access sites for a research project, rather than creating a(nother) bookmark folder
  • Save a tab.bz link to Evernote to condense the number of notes (and consequently save on storage space).

These are but a few ideas for the Chrome Extension. Capture your research or browsing to share with a single click!

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