5 Tools to Keep You Synchronized Everywhere

syncsign Many of you use more than one computer. You probably have a computer at home and one at work, and you may even have a laptop as well. Some of you probably even have a few computers in different rooms in your home. Keeping track of logins, passwords, bookmarks, and other information between your computers can be a real pain in the neck.  Fortunately, there are some online tools to help you keep all of this information in sync. Here are five of them.

Photo by roland.

 

Dropbox

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I previously wrote about Dropbox as one of the ten tools I can’t live without. Dropbox creates a folder on your computer, and any file or folder that you drop into it is copied into that same folder on any other computer on which you’ve installed Dropbox. Using Windows file sharing is quicker for bigger files on a local network, but I even use Dropbox on my home computers to move smaller files around, as it is easier than browsing through Windows Explorer to connect to a networked computer. And for remote computers, it is quick and easy. There is also an iPhone app and mobile phone interface, which makes some files accessible from a mobile device. Some people even use it with password manager KeePass to sync their key file and even their passwords between the computers they use.

Evernote

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I’ve talked about Evernote quite a bit on 40Tech. Evernote is the ultimate sync tool. Whether it be text notes, lists, bills, receipts, photos, or even files of any sort (with a premium account), Evernote makes it easy to keep your information at your fingertips, wherever you are. Evernote has clients for Windows, Mac, flash drives, iPhone, Blackberry, and Palm Pre, and also can be accessed via a web interface. The ability to drag a file into Evernote makes it a breeze to use. My life is now in Evernote. For example, I will scan my bills into Evernote as I open them at home, and then will stay late at work on occasion to pay them. That’s one way I use Evernote. For nine more, check out my earlier post, Ten Ways to Unclutter Your Mind using Evernote.

Read it Later

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One of Evernote’s shortcomings is that its web clipping on the iPhone is hit or miss. Not only can it be slow, but with some sites it just doesn’t work – the clipping window runs off of the screen, so that you can’t fill in any information or even click on the buttons. As a result, I’m turning more and more to Read It Later on the iPhone. Read It Later is an app that is available as a Firefox plugin, as an iPhone app and bookmarklet, and as a bookmarklet for all computer browsers. If you find a web page that you want to review later, use the bookmarklet. That page will then show up in a reading list that you can access from your browser or from the iPhone app. I find it particularly elegant and useful on the iPhone. When I’m at a page that I want to review on my computer later, I open up my iPhone bookmarks, and tap on the Read It Later bookmarklet. So long as I’ve signed into Read It Later recently, a second page briefly opens, flashes a “Saved!” message, and then closes, returning me to the original page. It all happens quickly. This is the type of functionality that I wish was built into Evernote.

Lastpass

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I wrote about Lastpass two weeks ago in my Password Manager Shootout. Lastpass allows you to keep all of your passwords synchronized between computers, and generates passwords for you. All you need to remember is one master password. In the Shootout, Lastpass had an elegance and ease of use that was lacking in the other password managers. I’ve also found that the Lastpass bookmarklet for the iPhone works perfectly, completing passwords with a single tap of the bookmarklet. The Lastpass developers have indicated that a full-fledged iPhone app is in the works.

Xmarks

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Xmarks, formerly known as Foxmarks, is a Firefox extension that synchronizes your bookmarks across all of the computers on which you use Firefox. Xmarks also supports Internet Explorer, and Safari (Mac OS), but I haven’t tried it on either of those browsers. Xmarks was the first of these five syncing tools that I used, and is essential for anyone who needs to keep bookmarks in sync between browsers.

 

How about you?  Are there any sync tools that I missed? I’d be curious if anyone has given Mozilla Weave a try.

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.

18 Comments:

  1. I'm currently using mobile me, but I want to try drop box in the future.

  2. I have MobileMe through my job, on my iPhone, but have barely looked at it. I assume it only syncs with a Mac, but I'll have to take a look.

    The thing I like about Dropbox is how easy it is. Install, and then just drop stuff into the folder to get it to appear on other machines.

  3. curiouslittleperson

    Alll sync tools are great! They no doubt make your life easier… thanks for the information and the great reviews!

    Will check these out!

    Cheers
    Sandeep

  4. I use all of those. All of them. I haven't toyed with Weave too much yet, but I do have it installed and set up.

  5. I'm not surprised that you use these too, given how similar our tech interests and uses are. If you ever give Weave a whirl, let us know what you think.

  6. Thanks Sandeep. I hope you end up liking some of them.

  7. DropBox Looks interesting, I was using evernote i will give dropbox a try.

  8. Evernote is awesome. I hope you like Dropbox.

  9. I've used Xmarks for a while but I'm going to look into getting dropbox. It looks like something that I can definitely use.

  10. I decided to check out Lastpass on your recommendation in the earlier blog post, “Password Manager Shootout.” After a week or so, I can't see being without it, so thanks!

    On your tip of hiding the tool bar, I hid the tool bar through the browser. I didn't like having the icon show in the status bar; a little digging uncovered a stylish script for firefox that hides status bar icons until a mouse-o ver. Name of style: “Statusbar:Mouseover for clutter”

  11. Awesome! I'm glad it worked out for you. And thanks for the tip on the Firefox stylish script. My status bar is looking a bit cluttered. I count 10 icons there now, plus Forecast Fox, which takes up a good bit of room. I may need need to check out the stylish script.

  12. LastPass is loaded with awesome sauce. I stumbled across LP maybe four months ago, and after a few weeks uninstalled AI Roboform which I had used for years. The software is still a bit raw, but the developers are *very* responsive on their forums, to the point that I've seen suggestions implemented within a day or two. Can't wait to see where this one goes.

    Dropbox is an old standby, use this one daily.

    As for Xmarks… I too was a longtime Foxmarks user, but privacy concerns since the swithover to Xmarks has driven me to Mozilla's Weave. For those of you that aren't familiar, I highly recommend checking it out… they have a very ambitious scope for the project.

  13. I'll definitely have to check out Weave. I don't think I have much in the way of private stuff in my bookmarks (that's all I use XMarks for), but I've been thinking about looking at Weave for a while now.

  14. Yeah, it's not so much about having private stuff in your bookmarks, it's the way Xmarks defaults to social bookmark behavior since the changeover. They've moved beyond just being a sync tool. That, and I just don't like the bloat–for example, the extra icons & links that get inserted into every google search, among other new “features.”

    Weave may still be a bit rough around the edges, but has mucho potential. Pretty sure the intent is to make it a full Firefox sync, so the user experience is the same on all PCs and platforms. Currently syncs bookmarks, passwords, browser history, and your tabs–I seem to recall extensions syncing was on the agenda, as well…

  15. Now you're really getting me motivated to try out Weave. I'm going to go add it to my to-do list!

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