Dropbox & Leap sitting in a tree

30 Dec 2008

I’ve waffled a lot this year about Evernote, Littlesnapper and their ilk, but I now feel I’ve found the best scrapbooking solution for me.

In the comments to my Littlesnapper post, Jo mentioned Leap.app, the file browser alternative to the Finder, as a way improving the approach of using the Finder to browse scrapbook images:

Your comment about tagging in Finder reminded me of a program I stumbled across, ages ago, that is a pretty cool alternative/replacement to Finder: Leap. It provides preview thumbnails of just about everything (you can pick the size and zoom in at will), tagging (I believe it covers tag completion, as well; it at least auto-tags based on folders you’ve stored things in); all sorts of neat features, and more ways to search and index your files than you can shake a stick at. If you ever want to ditch Finder for something more interesting that might be more helpful in your collecting endeavors than Finder was, I’d highly suggest taking a peek at Leap.

I’d tried Leap a while back when it first came out and didn’t play with it for long, but now having sat down and got used to it’s way of working (These videos help), I’m converted!

DropBox + Leap.app = Heaven

I’ve been a DropBox evangelist since day one, and John and I have pimped it a lot on the podcast. However, my vision on how I could use it was somewhat narrow, until I read a post about Killer Scrapbooking by Colly. I’d never realised that DropBox had an online gallery interface, or that it had an easily browsable iPhone interface.

Above: The normal and iPhone optimised DropBox website

So now, inside my DropBox’s Photo folder, I have a ‘Design Scrapbook’ folder. All I need is an alias to the scrapbook folder on my desktop and I can just drag anything I want to keep to it. There isn’t an interface that pops up when I do this – it all stays in the background until I want to look at it.

This solves the big problems I had with other solutions: Files are easily accessible, and shareable, from anywhere, in their original state. They’re not renamed like in Evernote, or hidden away from view in a database file. The new Evernote Premium version allows you add files to a note without changing their name, but the problem is right there: you have to add them to a note! You still can’t just keep your files on they’re own in their original state.

What’s more I can not only store and browse images, but also PDFs (I have quite a few typeface samples as PDFs), Movies, Presentations, anything. These don’t show up in DropBox’s web gallery interface of course, but they’re still synced.

Tagging any file, and viewing by tag, is quick and easy, and it has the resizable thumbnail interface that I like so much in LittleSnapper and iPhoto.

Above: Using the Loupe tool to quickly enlarge portions of images – Leap also supports QuickLook.

This does mean that I still use separate apps: Skitch for screenshots and Paparazzi/Web Archives to capture complete web pages, but that’s fine. Skitch in particular blends in seamlessly with this system – for all intents and purposes, it could be a feature of the same app.

Of course, I’m using Leap for more than just browsing my scrapbook – now that I’m in the mindset I prefer using that to find files. Unlike my other software reviews this year, there are no downsides to Leap – it’s all full of WIN. I haven’t felt so excited about apps since, well, since Coda.

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