Indispensable: Cloud app

I use it daily without thinking but would miss it loads if they closed it down. Such a simple utility doing one particular task perfectly seamlessly. If you’ve not already installed Cloud app for OS X, do it now.

Drag and drop, take a screen shot, or use a Raindrop and share the link immediately. CloudApp gets out of your way leaving you to focus on communication.

Scenarios: I’ve taken a screen shot of an error and need to post it on a feedback form that won’t allow uploads. I’ve got a zip of assets that I want to give to someone without clogging their inbox with a 20MB attachment. I’ve got a very important animated gif to share and want to be sure the recipient’s mail app doesn’t prevent it animating on open.

All very small file sharing needs, but nothing makes it as easy as Cloud app. Not even local network file sharing in our studio, because we regularly share files in house using Cloud app rather than via Finder, despite the fact that we should be filing things in job folders rather that tossing them, unreferenced, into the cloud.

That said, the Cloud app service includes a browser view that’s also incredibly useful for searching back through previously uploaded bits and bobs.

(Another great bonus is the view count that allows you to see if someone has clicked what you sent them. Very useful when they say down the line that ‘oh, no, I never got your email with the link…)

How it basically works: Find the file you want to share, drag it to the little cloud icon in your tool bar, and it copies the final destination URL straight to you clipboard, ready for pasting.

In a recent version it even gives you the URL as soon as you drop the file (you used to have to wait until it uploaded, and the cloud went blue with a friendly ‘ping’). The web page will also show an ‘in progress’ indicator while the files is still uploading.

There are extra ways to make screen shots automatically upload, or have certain key combinations do other things, but off the shelf, it just does the basics. A great lesson for not letting your product becoming feature laden over time. In fact, I signed up in July 2010, and day to day, the product is the same as it ever was. Just, ace.

In all that time it’s baffled me that Dropbox or Apple haven’t bought it, or just destroyed it by adding the exact same simple functionality, but the easiest user journeys that either has right now, are still far more fiddly (relatively) and time intensive.

Sharing a file, too big for email, on a local network, with someone sitting next to you:

OS X Option 1: Find file in finder window > Open another Finder window > Navigate to shared server > Navigate to shared folder > Which is probably a few levels down > Copy file across > Tell person next to you where it is (and then talk them through every step of the Finder trail to where the file is).

OS X Option 2: Open Airdrop > Try for ages to make it work with the person next to you > Change numerous settings > Google ‘how does Airdrop work’ > Read Apple forums in which no Apple rep has joined in to help resolve the issue > Try once more > Guiltily ask the smartest person in your studio that you know hates being asked mundane tech support tasks only to find they’ve never bothered using it* > Give up.

DropBox: Find file in finder window > Open another Finder window > Navigate to Dropbox folder > Copy file across > Wait until you’re able to right click and get the share link > Wait for the file to upload, which with Dropbox tends to take a while these days > Share link in chat.

Cloud app: Find file in finder window > Drag it to the Cloud > Share link in chat.

Crazy that the easiest way to get that file to the person next you is to upload it hundreds of miles away to a server somewhere, but hey. Internet. 

OK, I’m sounding like an evangelist or Sponsored post (though at least this would be one I believe in) so the cons list: The pro account has a max file size of 250MB (if it did 1GB it could easily kill Wetransfer which I still don’t understand why people use rather than Dropbox).

And they’ve removed (I think) the little link in the Cloud icon to your personal library page.

And, they’ve got that ‘Raindrop’ feature which even for Dr Metaphor me, is pushing the cloud metaphor a little to far into cutesy.

What an ironically over-long-winded post about something so beautifully simple. Here then are some of my most popular shared files as a reward for making it this far:

A PDF of The Elephant newspaper we made using Newspaper Club in 2011.

The lyre bird gif I made from a David Attenborough documentary for Lawrence.

The photo from that day that nearly everyone wore grey.

And the example of the real Apple site vs a version I Photoshopped with poor quality product photos in attempt to illustrate that good design is about good content.

Anyway. Love you Cloud app. x

* And sorry Erin :)

PS. There’s also a version of sorts for Windows