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Create GrabUp-style functionality with Dropbox and Jing

Before Snow Leopard was released, we were enjoying GrabUp for super-simple sharing of screenshots. It was a great little utility: After a brief setup, it automatically sent any screenshot to its servers (or your own) and added the resulting URL to the Clipboard. It was fast and very useful.

Snow Leopard killed it by changing the naming convention of screenshots. The developers haven't fixed it (in fact, Google now throws up a danger warning when I try to access the site) and it looks like they aren't going to. We posted a fix not too long ago, and today we found another approach on the Dropbox wiki that uses Dropbox and Jing. You get free online storage for up to 2GB of screenshots, and an easy way to get the URL of your screenshot where you need it in a hurry.

Here's how it works. First, download and install Jing (it'll work with the free version -- more on that later) and get a Dropbox account (again, the free version will work). Once your Dropbox install is all done, create a destination folder in your Dropbox's Public folder -- maybe "screenshots," for example. Now it's time to fill in the Jing preferences. Read on...

Jing's UI can be a bit confusing -- in the default "sun globe" setup, you need to hover your mouse over the sun, then click the 'gears' icon (in menubar mode, just click "More"), then click "Preferences" (also looks like a gear). Next select "Customize Jing Buttons." A small window appears. Click "Save" -- no, that doesn't save your changes, it just lets you create a new 'Save'-type button to save screenshots to your local drive.

Here we're going to change this Save button to our Dropbox button. Give it a descriptive name (like "Dropbox") and navigate to the destination folder you created as the save location. For "Clipboard Contents" select "Custom Code."

Two fields appear: Custom Image Code and Custom Video Code. You'll enter the same snippet in each, which is:
"http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/$USERID/$FOLDER/[filename]"
There are two variables in this string that you must replace. First, $USERID is a number associated with all of your Dropbox account's public files. To find yours, navigate to a file in your public folder via a browser -- the easiest way to do that is to right-click one of the files and choose "Copy Public Link." For example, a file named Top Secret.txt is in there by default.

Note that the paid version of Jing ($14.95US/year) eliminates the extra step of acknowledging the Save dialog when you take a screenshot among other things. You can even annotate your images with text before uploading.

Have fun! We're loving this here at TUAW, even if it's not quite as seamless as GrabUp was.

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