How to share video directly from your iPhone or iPad with Dropbox

Last week I mentioned an update to the online sharing service Box, allowing you to directly upload video and photos from your phone to a shared folder. It turns out you can do this with Dropbox as well–and since I know most of our readers are currently more familiar with Dropbox than Box, I’d like to share with you how to go about setting this up with the former (then I’ll mention a few reasons you might want to consider the latter).

In this scenario, let’s pretend that I’m a teacher and Amber is my instructional coach. I want to share a short video clip of myself (recorded on my iPhone) introducing a new Learning Strategy. Here’s how I can use Dropbox to make this happen. (By the way, this will also work on an iPod touch with network access, or an iPad with a built-in video camera.)

Setting up

I’ve created a new folder in Dropbox called Coaching, then given Amber access to the folder. (If you need a refresher on how to do that, take a look at Dropbox’s help documentation.)

Now, onto my iPhone. I’ve got the Dropbox app installed and connected to my Dropbox account–download it now if necessary. Before I start sending video up to the cloud, though, I need to double-check some settings by tapping the Settings icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

About halfway down is a menu labeled Upload Quality. There I can select my photo and video quality. Dropbox sets both to Medium–and for our purposes that should be more than adequate. Note that switching to High or Original will chew up more of your precious Dropbox storage space–but unless you plan on watching clips on a huge, high definition television, you’re probably not going to notice any difference by sending video at Medium quality. If you’ve got a slow network and/or are tight on space, switch down to Low.


Just for comparison’s sake, here is a clip I’d recorded during an impromptu Final Four celebration in downtown Lawrence, at Medium quality:

QuickTime PlayerScreenSnapz001

And here’s the same clip at Low quality.

QuickTime PlayerScreenSnapz002

Depending on your needs, Low may be just fine.

Sharing video

OK, we’re all set up–now it’s time to actually share some video. First, though, we need a clip to share. So go ahead and record a clip. As a general rule of thumb you should keep this under 10 minutes. If necessary you can use the iPhones built-in video editing features to trim the overall length.

So now I’ve got a clip I want to share with my coach. Back in Dropbox, I’ll select Uploads, then tap the + icon to select the video from my camera roll. From the photos and videos currently stored on my computer, I can begin tapping any items I want to share.


Next I’ll choose a folder within my Dropbox account to upload to. In my case I’ll pick the Coaching folder that I’m sharing with Amber. Once I’m in the folder I want to use I’ll tap the blue Choose button in the bottom-right corner.

Selected folder

Finally, I’ll tap Upload to finish.


Now Dropbox does some behind-the-scenes preparation, compressing my high definition video down to a more manageable size. Then it transfers the file up to the Coaching folder in Dropbox–and within moments Amber, my coach, has access to the clip.

Pretty neat, huh? Note that I didn’t have to sync anything back up to my computer. That’s the beauty of having a network-capable camera–don’t try doing this with your old Flip camera.

So, why might I consider Box for this instead?

Four possible reasons:

  1. The person you’re sharing with is already using Box and you want to make it easier on them.
  2. Box gives you more free space out of the gate (5 GB of storage versus Dropbox’s 2 GB).
  3. You want to take advantage of Box’s collaboration features, such as commenting on shared documents.
  4. You want to be able to rename your video files before or after you’ve uploaded them.

Whichever option you choose, though, sharing video with others has gotten easier than ever. Welcome to the cloud, right?


Related posts:

  1. How to save YouTube video directly to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch
  2. Back up and share your files in the cloud with Dropbox or Mobile Me
  3. How to load e-books on your iPad with Dropbox
  4. Video of Dropbox for Professional Developers webcast now available
  5. Start recording video on your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch quickly with Capture

Aaron Sumner

Aaron Sumner is the Director of Technology for Research and Development at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. He has worked in web development and instructional technology since 1994.