Promising Prospect: DropCopy

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Through the magic of Rendezvous, Mac OS X has made copying files between computers on a newtwork relatively painless, but if you’re a home user with a safe network, it can still be a minor hassle to connect to another computer just to copy a file or two. As a result, a number of file copying utilities, aimed at making such procedures simpler, have been released. I recently came across the public beta of 10base-T Interactive’s Drop Copy (free for three or fewer users on a network, $20 for larger sites), and it’s one of the best attempts I’ve yet seen.

When you launch DropCopy, it looks for other copies of DropCopy running on your local network; it calls these destinations . (If you want to copy files to a computer running DropCopy that’s not on your local network, you can manually add that computer as a destination by providing its IP address.) It also adds a small translucent circle—I call it a drop zone —to your Desktop; you can move this drop zone to wherever it’s most accessible on your own Desktop. When you want to copy a file to another computer, simply drag the file into the drop zone; a list of availabe destinations will appear. Drop the file onto the name of the destination (either a computer name or user name, depending on your preferences) and the file will be copied immediately. You’ll see the status of the copy (percentage copied, etc.) in the drop zone. That’s it—you don’t need to browse a network, enter a password, or perform any other steps. You can even copy folders or multiple files; DropCopy will compress them into a .zip archive, copy them, and then unzip them when they’re received by the other computer.


DropCopy in action


Another useful feature of DropCopy, unrelated to file copying, is the ability for users to share Clipboards. Like the excellent ClipboardSharing (   ), you can copy the clipboard of another user running DropCopy. It’s not as elegant as ClipboardSharing—you need to control/right-click on the drop zone and then double-click the user’s name in the resulting list of destinations—but it works.

The DropCopy preferences dialog also provides a few useful options. For example, you can choose to hear audible feedback after a copy is finished; decide whether or not you need to confirm if another DropCopy user attempts to send you a file or copy your Clipboard; and hide the drop zone when no destinations (no other computers running DropCopy) are visible on the network. You can also choose the folder to which files sent by other users should be saved.


DropCopy preferences dialog


DropCopy is currently in public beta, which means it’s not yet a final product and it has a few quirks. For example, the developers have found a few files that refuse to copy, and in order to preserve resource forks and custom icons, you need to option-drag files onto the drop zone. So be sure to read the included ReadMe file before using DropCopy. That being said, I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now and it’s worked flawlessly. If you frequently copy files between computers, I highly recommend giving DropCopy a try.

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