Paper Clipping to a Cloud

I don't know about you, but I get a lot of email attachments at school. Forms, procedures, altered schedules, and on and on. Invariably it would be weeks later that I needed one of these forms, and then I found myself digging through my inbox trying to track it down. Or worse, I would print things and they would get lost on my desk under various piles. Hopelessly inefficient. Well, here are a few solutions that I've used and maybe they will help you save some precious minutes and help you regain some sanity.

1. Dropio

Dropio is a great cloud storage solution. It does many different things so you should watch the video on the homepage. One great feature is that every drop comes with an email address to which you can send emails with attachments. I created a "drop" for all the attachments I get at school...I simply forward the email to dropio. Now, if your district is really on top of matters and you can run rules in Outlook (we can't), you can set up a rule that automatically looks for attachments and forwards those to Talk about "set it and forget it," now all your attachments will be waiting for you at the drop, which of course is accessible from any browser.

There is an iPhone app (will run on iPad obviously) called droppler that will allow you to access your drops while on the go. I hope someone releases an iPad version that will take advantage of the increased screen real estate.

2. Google Docs and Harmony

Google Docs recently added the ability to store any file type, not just google documents. There is a new plugin for Outlook called Harmony that will allow you to connect with Google Docs via Outlook. Initially Google provided you with a special email address to which you could send attachments, but for some reason they suspended it. At least Harmony will allow drag and drop, and otherwise you'll need to first save the attachment and then upload it to Google Docs. Obviously if your school uses gmail you can open most attachments directly in Google Docs already, so that may be a nice option for some of you.

3. Dropbox

I love Dropbox for its syncing features, shared folders, and API which allows other mobile apps (like Good Reader) to connect and access your files. But like Google Docs you cannot email attachments into your Dropbox, and this is a shortcoming when trying to manage attachments from your mobile device (you CAN however email documents FROM Dropbox to anyone). If you are on a laptop or desktop computer you can save attachments to your Dropbox and they will sync to the cloud, becoming available to you from just about anywhere. I also like Dropbox because the files are accessible in so many ways: iPhone/iPad app, website login, and desktop applications (cross platform).

4. Good Reader app

Good Reader is my app of choice on the iPad and iPhone. It can read most file formats, can connect with MobileMe, Dropbox, Google Docs, and other webDAV servers, as well as email accounts. It also handles very large PDF files with ease. By entering your school's email (if your IT folks turned on IMAP) you can also bring attachments into Good Reader very easily. You can then move those files to any of the services you have connected. Or, when reading email on your iPhone/iPad, you can hold down on an attachment icon and open it with Good Reader, which imports the file. Good Reader does not sync however, so be sure to move the files into one of the connected services if you need access to them elsewhere.

5. QuickOffice Connect

Quick Office is an app that is available on many mobile platforms. It has the ability to connect with a wide variety of services, including Dropbox, Google Docs, and MobileMe. Not only can you view files, but it also has the ability edit those files and save them back to the same (or different) service. You can also create new files and save them to any connected service. Quick Office is also the only service I have found besides Dropio that will provide you with an email address to which you can send attachments. Quick Office gives you 50 megabytes of storage, which is plenty for typical attachments that I receive.