Dropbox 2.0 adds system-tray alerts and sharing features

The desktop client for Dropbox sports a new look as the service adds real-time alerts and additional sharing functionality straight into the system-tray app.

We Dropbox users have gotten very accustomed to our boring yet reliable Dropbox desktop clients (download for Windows, Mac, Linux 32-bit, and Linux 64-bit) chugging along tirelessly, syncing files and folders between computers and devices with no muss or fuss, that it was with some trepidation yesterday that I updated to version 2.0, the brand-new release from the online-hosting service. The new update gives the system-tray-based app a slight cosmetic makeover--the utilitarian menu as been supplanted with a more modern UI that includes links to your Dropbox folder, the Dropbox Web site, three "recently changed" files, and new files or folders that have been shared with you, and of course, the standard upload progress bar at the top.

If someone shares a link or a folder with you, in addition to the usual e-mail messaging, you'll also receive an instant alert directly in your Dropbox menu (the screen that appears when you click the Dropbox icon in your system tray), as well as the ability to "Accept" or "Decline" an invitation to share a Dropbox folder. My colleague Jenny and I tested out the new feature and it worked flawlessly. Dropbox notified me instantly of an urgent baby picture that required immediate viewing. Phew!

Mmmmmmmmmmm ... cake. (Credit: Peter Butler/CNET)

The addition of a "Share" button next to each of your Recently Changed files is also new, but the use case seems a bit obtuse to me. It doesn't allow the sharing of newly created or uploaded folders, and the Recently Changed list only shows your three most recently uploaded or modified files. I suppose the value there is in one-off uploads, when you throw up a picture on Dropbox and want to decide on the spur of the moment to pass it along to friends or family. I deal with such a large number of files, I don't see myself using it much, but who knows? Perhaps Dropbox will become the new preferred method for sharing animated GIFs.

You'll find the old Dropbox menu under the gear icon. (Credit: Peter Butler/CNET)

The only downside to the Dropbox 2.0 redesign is the fact that you'll need to click on the "gear" icon in the top-right corner of the interface to access the the pause-syncing option, the Dropbox preferences menu, and your usage stats. In fact, the "gear" menu is essentially the old Dropbox 1.x menu, minus the sync status, which now resides at the top of the new interface. Some users might complain that it takes two clicks to pause syncing when it used to take one, but I'm just glad that the Dropbox developers are paying attention to the desktop clients. The interface redesign is a step in the right direction, and although the new features aren't revolutionary, they do offer a glimpse of the more comprehensive features that could be developed in the future.

About Peter Butler

Peter has been working at Download.com since 2003, when trialware was shareware and toolbars were those large metal rods for smashing car windows. Currently, he wrangles the reviews, videos, newsletter, blog, and special collections for Download.com, as well as managing the program data throughout the software directory.