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Sync Tomboy Notes and Zim in Dropbox

Tomboy Notes is a multi-platform application, so keeping your notes synced with Dropbox is handy for obvious reasons.

Luckily it’s dead easy to do: enter Preferences (either by opening up Tomboy and clicking Edit -> Preferences, or if you’ve got it on your GNOME panel, right-click the icon) and select the “Synchronization” tab. Choose the “Local Folder” service and find your Dropbox, which is inside your home folder by default. Inside of Dropbox, make a new folder for the Tomboy Notes database, and select that folder.

Dropbox acts like any other directory on your computer, so when Tomboy syncs itself to your Dropbox, Dropbox automatically syncs that database across all the computers you have it installed on. Now you can access your notes anywhere!

As for Zim, syncing is even easier, and gives you more benefits. When you start a new wiki, just remember to save it somewhere in your Dropbox folder – that’s it. If you’ve got a wiki you’ve already started and want that synced instead, you need only move the folder you saved it as (remember, Zim wikis are saved as folders, not files) to your Dropbox. You’ll have to tell Zim where it is next time you start the program, of course.

Beyond file synchronization, saving Zim to your Dropbox has another two little bonuses: if you login to dropbox.com and navigate to the place where you’ve saved a Zim wiki, you’ll find you’ll be able to actually read your Zim notes anywhere, regardless of whether Dropbox is installed or not! Since they’re stored as plaintext, you could also edit them without Dropbox or Zim by downloading and re-uploading the file.

As for the other extra feature, if you’ve worked with wikis at all you probably know most give you the ability to revert changes or view the history of an article. Zim doesn’t come with that functionality – which is understandable, as storing every revision of an article can clutter up a folder right quick. But Dropbox will give you a similar feature:

It is what it looks like, folks. Wiki history, brought to you by Dropbox, accessible from your own file browser.

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Dropbox: The most essential writer’s tool

You might have the most elegant word processor in the world, but it won’t do you any good if you accidentally erase half your story. Or if your computer crashes, or if you’re miles away from the laptop you’ve stored it all on.

That’s why I’m introducing Dropbox (available for Linux, of course!) first. It’s the most important tool I’ll ever give you on this blog. (Yes, jumped the shark in two posts.)

Dropbox is a file synchronization service, but it’s so much more than that. When you install Dropbox, a special folder appears under your user folder called, naturally, your Dropbox. This folder keeps itself backed up whenever you’re connected to the Internet. You can install Dropbox on multiple computers and keep the same files synchronized across each one, or login to dropbox.com and view your whole Dropbox online if you’re away.

Accidentally deleted a story? Not a problem – deleted files are kept in your Dropbox for 30 days, so all you have to do is restore it. Or if you’ve saved over your work, Dropbox has a solution for that too: it stores every revision of every file in your Dropbox, so you can revert your changes.

The only limit to Dropbox is its size. You can store 2GB of files for free; any more and you’ve got to pay up. Still, if 2GB means anything to you at all, you know that can hold thousands upon thousands of stories, no sweat.

As a writer, I think Dropbox makes one feel a bit more daring. Before, I’d keep an extra document going alongside any story I was writing, so I could store the bits I cut out there. But with Dropbox, of course, the whole file-revision thing means I don’t have to. I can hack and slash without worrying about losing a thing.

So don’t wait ’till it’s too late, back up your writing! It’s free!

Update: For another user’s perspective on Dropbox, and the chance to get an extra 250MB of storage space when you sign up, check out karenclassic’s comments about the service.