Using Dropbox

Last updated on February 19, 2014

Dropbox is a cloud service that provides 2GB of free storage to consumers. Additional storage can be purchased or earned. You can store virtually any type of file in Dropbox using the Dropbox website, the Dropbox app for iOS and Android, or the Dropbox desktop folder for Mac/PC. A number of mobile and desktop apps integrate with Dropbox, including iAnnotate PDF for iPad.

iAnnotate supports integration with Dropbox for importing documents and backing up your work. A connection between iAnnotate and your Dropbox account allows you to browse your entire Dropbox folder structure from the iAnnotate library, select and download documents and folders, and upload documents back to Dropbox after you have marked them up. However, it does not allow you to actually modify or reorganize how your Dropbox is set up, with the exception of moving or copying documents from iAnnotate to your Dropbox account.​

Connecting to Dropbox

Navigate to the iAnnotate Library (by tapping the Library button in the upper left) and tap Connections in the Library navigation panel. Tap "Add Dropbox" and enter a description (it defaults to "Dropbox"). Enter your Dropbox username, which is typically your email address, then tap "Set Up Connection." Choose "Read Only" if you want to use the connection to import files, but wish to disable syncing annotated files back to your Dropbox account. With this option turned on, your annotations will only be saved to your iPad and not backed up to Dropbox.

Now find the new Dropbox connection icon in your Library; it will appear light gray meaning you have not downloaded anything from it yet. Tap the icon to continue the setup process. Your username will already be entered (if you've made a mistake and mistyped this you will need to delete this connection and make a new one since you cannot edit the username in the authorization window). Enter your password when prompted then tap "Sign In." You will then be asked to allow iAnnotate access to your Dropbox contents. Tap "Allow."

Downloading and Managing Files

The connection between Dropbox and iAnnotate lets you import documents in PDF, DOC, GIF, JPEG, PNG, or PPT format. To download a document, simply tap on it, or tap and hold then select Download from the popup menu.

Upon modifying a document from within the Dropbox connection, the sync icon in the upper-right of your screen will turn red to indicate there are un-synced changes. Tap the sync icon to upload the changes back to Dropbox immediately; changes are uploaded automatically when you close the document tab.

Deleting any document from iAnnotate does not also delete it from your remote Dropbox account. The document would still exist in Dropbox, in its most recently modified and synced version.

You can move local documents into your Dropbox account from iAnnotate. To do so, tap and hold a document in the iAnnotate PDF Library, then tap Move and select Dropbox from the list of target folder options. Alternatively, you can select multiple documents using the selection circles next to them, then tap Move in the Actions accordion at the left of the Library. However, you can not move whole folders into Dropbox from within iAnnotate.

You can also copy a document from your Dropbox account into local storage on your iPad. To do so, tap and hold a document in your Dropbox folder within the iAnnotate PDF Library, then tap Copy and select Local Files from the list of target folder options. This creates a copy of your document that isn’t synced to your Dropbox. 

Viewing Markups Sent to Dropbox

When iAnnotate syncs with Dropbox, it sends the marked-up documents as annotated (non-flattened) copies, meaning that their markups are not compressed into the document but rather occupy a “layer” on top of it. As such, they are best viewed in compatible Mac/PC programs like Preview or Adobe Acrobat/Reader. Editable annotations will not be viewable in most mobile (iPhone/iPad/Android) apps, web browsers, or on the Dropbox website.

For broader compatibility, use the Flatten PDF button in the Library to create a copy with the annotations compressed into the document. 

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