DropCopy 1.6.8 review

DropCopy is a nifty utility that takes advantage of Mac OS X’s Bonjour technology to simplify transferring files between Macs on your local network. We first reviewed DropCopy back in 2006, and while the program’s basic functionality is the same, the developer has added a number of minor feature tweaks.

When launched, DropCopy displays a small “dropzone,” which looks like a black hole, on your desktop. When you drag files or folders onto that dropzone, a menu pops up showing any other users on your local network who are also running DropCopy. (You can opt to show the names of computers, rather than users.) Drop a file onto a user’s name, and the recipient gets a request to receive the file; if the request is approved, the file is copied to whichever folder the user has specified for DropCopy downloads. (To streamline the process between trusted users—say, on your home network—you can opt to receive files without approval.)

While local computers running DropCopy appear automatically, you can also manually add (by IP address) destinations outside your local network, and you can add SFTP servers. However, you can’t add an iDisk as a destination—an option I’d like to see, as I often share files with others via my iDisk Public folder.

DropCopy also allows you exchange the contents of the Clipboard between two Macs — useful for sharing text — and it lets you send onscreen messages. The latter option is useful mainly if one or the other user isn’t logged in to iChat.

DropCopy provides a number of options for tweaking its behavior and monitoring progress. For example, you can opt to run DropCopy without a Dock icon, making it unobtrusive except when you need it, and you can choose to have the dropzone appear either on your desktop or above all other windows. (One option I’d like to see is a keyboard shortcut to toggle between the two settings, as I can’t often see the desktop on my main Mac, and having the dropzone float above other windows at all times can be a distraction. Alternatively, I’d like to be able to view the dropzone as as a window or a palette.) The program can also use Growl notifications and audible feedback for completed transfers.

Perhaps the biggest complaint I have is that the dropzone’s text is tiny and — with a high-resolution Apple Cinema Display and aging eyes — squint-inducing.

DropCopy is available in three versions: The free version, available from the developer’s Website or the Mac App Store, is free and lets you use it on up to three Macs. A £2.99 Pro version (Mac App Store link) covers up to 10 computers. Finally, you can purchase a $25 (£17) site license for use on an unlimited number of computers.

OUR VERDICT

When DropCopy debuted, five years ago, it was a truly unique solution for easily moving files between your Macs—there was nothing else like it. These days, you many more options, from Dropbox to a number of DropCopy-like utilities (and, in the upcoming Lion version of OS X, AirDrop, which is very similar to DropCopy). But DropCopy remains one of the simplest tools for transferring files from one Mac to another: There’s no configuration needed, and you don’t even need to mount a shared volume, as you do with OS X’s own File Sharing. If you want an easy way to transfer files across a network, DropCopy makes it drag-and-drop simple.

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