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How to get the most out of Dropbox Paper

From creating lists to embedding rich media, we’ll show you how to use this new collaborative document editor to the fullest

For years, Dropbox has been an online storage service, offering free as well as premium cloud storage. Their new and second product is a team-collaboration tool intended to make collaborative projects easier. Simply called Paper, it isn’t as powerful as Google Docs but better than what Medium looks like. What you get with Paper is a rich text editor that lets you embed images, web links and videos. You can also enjoy collaborative features such as tagging your teammates, assigning tasks and creating comment threads. The following tips and tricks will help you understand all the features present in Paper and how you can put them to use.

Embedding rich media content

You can add links from rich media content such as audio clips, videos and GIFs, and they will get embedded in the doc. You can add SoundCloud clips to the doc, and an embedded version appears. The same can be done for videos from YouTube and Vimeo. Embedding enables you to play audio and video clips right inside the doc rather than having to visit an external link.

Dropbox Paper
You only need links to embed them

You can embed tweets as well. All you need to do is copy the tweet’s URL and paste in the doc. It automatically creates an interactive tweet in the doc, revealing all the details about the tweet. You can also add Pinterest boards in the same way and scroll through them right inside the doc.

Tag teammates

As it’s meant to be a collaborative service, you can share the doc with your teammates through email. All they need to do is register into Dropbox with their email ID and they can start contributing right away. Once you give Dropbox access to your email account while signing up, all your contacts will be synced. To tag teammates, you can type ’@’ that shows you a list of all your contacts and you can select the relevant member. This will let you instantly share the current doc using the pop-up window.

Dropbox Paper
Tagging your teammates has never been easier

Creating task lists and assigning them

Inserting comments is easy. Either you can highlight the text and select the last icon on the right. Or you can hover your mouse on the right side of the document’s margin and click on the comment bubble. Apart from adding comments, one feature present in Paper which isn’t there in Google Docs is creating task lists. You’ll be able to assign tasks to your teammates and include a due date as well. To create lists, highlight the text and click on the ‘Task List’ option from the hovering menu. As you keep on adding tasks, you can assign a task to a team member by using the tagging method mentioned previously. Now, you can add a due date by hovering your mouse over the task and selecting the date. Do note, Google Docs also includes the feature to assign tasks.

Dropbox Paper
Create task lists for yourself and your teammates

Insert tables

Tables can be inserted by clicking on the plus button appearing on the left side of the doc. By default, it adds a 2×2 table that can be increased by hovering the cursor over the dots and dragging extra rows or columns. The width of the cells can be easily adjusted according to your preferences. To delete the entire table, click on the top left corner of the table and click the delete icon.

Dropbox Paper
Paper allows you to insert and adjust tables as well

Add, react with, emojis and stickers

Dropbox Paper
You can react to comments with stickers and emojis

Rather than adding an entire sentence to express your reaction, emojis make the job easier. You can add hundreds of emojis in the doc by typing ‘:’ which pops up a scrollable mini-window of numerous emojis. If you aren’t sure where a particular emoji is located, you can type out the expression followed by the colon. For example, if you want to add an angry emoji, type ‘:angry’ and all the angry emojis will be filtered in the window. You can react to comments with emojis too by clicking on the comment and then clicking on ‘Add reaction’. This will show the same emojis, the difference here being that you can’t type.

Stickers are available in Paper in the comment section. To add a sticker to a comment, select a comment and click on the bottom right emoji. You’ll see seven sticker packs with many stickers inside them that can be easily added.

Create image grids

Adding images wasn’t a problem in Google Docs, but you had to add them sequentially. Paper allows you to create photo grids enabling you to display more images at a time. This also makes it easier to discuss design ideas with your team, rather than making them visit other websites via image links. You can upload an image from your computer and if you want to create a grid of similar photos, you have to select multiple images. It will automatically scale and form a grid in the doc. You can change the look of the image by moving to the right or left of the text, just like in Medium. Commenting on images is allowed and all the images can be viewed together as a slideshow by clicking on the image.

Dropbox Paper
You can upload multiple images and create a grid using Paper

View as a presentation

After you’re done adding all the details required in your doc, including text, images, video links, table of data, etc., you are now ready to show it to your team before you start collaborating with them. Paper includes an in-built presentation feature that removes the unnecessary menus from the UI and keeps only the content visible. You can jump into Present mode by clicking on the three dotted menu at the top and going to Present. A new tab opens up which lets you invert the colours of the text and background, and then you enter fullscreen mode.

This article was first published in the March 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

Abhijit Dey

Abhijit Dey

While indulging deep into conspiracy theories surrounding comic book movie plots, he can be found rewatching them looking for easter eggs. Otherwise, his weekends are spent on gaming and browsing memes.