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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.