Using Dropbox on a phone to listen to media files offline

A version of this was originally posted here, this is updated with screenshots and adapted for playing files offline.

It’s fairly straightforward to save media files to your Dropbox and set them up on your phone so that you can listen or watch them when you’re without internet.

To begin with you will need

  • a laptop and a smartphone
  • a free Dropbox account
  • and the Dropbox app installed on your smartphone
  • wifi connectivity (you won’t need it later though)

Instructions

  • Save the media file into your Dropbox folder on your computer
  • open up the Dropbox app on your phone, and wait for the file to appear / sync, or if it’s already there just search for it or navigate to its folder

The example shown is a short beep (listen) from the machine checking tickets at the Royal Albert Hall (at a performance of a Star Trek film with a live orchestra!).

tricorderbeep03
Step 1. Click on the three ••• dots on the right hand side.
IMG_1260
Step 2. Click on the Make Available Offline option and wait
tricorderbeep01
Step 3. The rotating sync icon will take however long is needed to make the file available offline. I assume you will need some space on your phone to do this, especially for larger files.
tricorderbeep02
Step 4. Once you have the white arrow on the green circle icon you should be able to use that file without internet access. Check! If it doesn’t play check that your phone is able to play that file type.

Dropbox’s own help pages have a list of files that will play including music and video: https://help.dropbox.com/installs-integrations/photos/play-movie-audio-mobile – note that you may need to convert some files to a type of file that your phone can play so check before disconnecting from wifi / signal. They suggest Handbrake for conversion though I’ve only used Zamzar and Real Player).

Media filetypes that I’ve successfully played on my iPhone via Dropbox

  • .avi
  • .flv
  • .m4a (these are meant for iTunes, but work fine)
  • .mp3
  • .wmv

Music files listed on Dropbox help files that should work: .mp3, .aiff, .m4a, .wav

Video files previously listed on their help files that should work: .mov, .mp4, .m4v

Filetypes that I’ve not had much luck with

  • .m4r – ring tones, but these can be converted to .mp3 files via http://www.zamzar.com (I’ve just tried it, works fine)
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• How to download Audioboom posts as mp3s

Audioboom is no longer supporting free accounts, they will not delete your content for three years though so don’t panic (yet). However at the end of October 2017 they’ll make all free accounts private, so if you have your sound-posts embedded in other places then they’ll no longer work. They will help you migrate your RSS feeds (more info here) though.

This embedded post of mine will presumably stop working properly in a month or so…

Of course Audioboom are entitled to start charging and restrict services from non-payers, it’s just a bit frustrating for individuals (who own the content) and the wider internet which suffers when embedded audio files disappear on websites along with comments. Basically this ‘breaks the internet’ a bit.

Here’s one way of downloading any Audioboom sound file, as an mp3. I’m investigating better solutions for people with lots of files. Below that are suggestions on how to capture and share them online again.

Table of Contents

  • 1a. How to download any individual Audioboom file as an mp3
  • 1b. Bulk downloading
  • 1c. Additional information on downloading (accompanying images)
  • 2. Where to put your files now you’ve downloaded them
  • 3. Background to this story

 

1a. How to download any individual Audioboom file as an mp3

  1. Visit the page of the sound file, eg here’s one of mine
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.29.46
  2. Add .mp3 to the end of the URL in the address bar, press enter – this automatically changes the page to an mp3 player page. (Commenter Leyton, 3rd comment below, found that for Chrome this stage downloaded the mp3 automatically).

    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.30.46
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.32.09

  3. Hover over the play icon (it goes blue) and right-click Save Audio As…
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.33.06
  4. Repeat for other files
  5. If you have a lot of files (I have 85 clips to download) there’s probably a more efficient way (I don’t know it yet but will gladly link if I hear of it). I have emailed Audioboom support to ask them support@audioboom.com

There are some techy suggestions on Twitter which include uncovering them from iTunes by subscribing to the podcast RSS. To be honest I’m looking for a ‘Download archive’ button as on Twitter 🙂

1b. Bulk downloading
Phil Cooper has kindly commented (at the end of this post) but I’m putting his text here for extra usefulness.

“For bulk downloading of Audioboom MP3 files, if you have a list of all of the URLs, you can use a free command-line utility called wget. It was originally written for GNU Linux, but a Windows version also exists. Using a text editor such as Geany for Linux or Notepad++ for WIndows, write a BASH script or a Windows batch file using the list of URLs, create a directory (folder) where you want to save the files, open a command window in that directory and run the script.”

1c. Additional information on downloading

  1. You can also download the image that accompanied your ‘boom’ (or ‘boo’ as they used to be called when the service was Audioboo) with right-click Save as too OR hover over the pic and take a screenshot, that way you’ll get an image of the little soundwave, that also gives information.
  2. For completists you might want to number your sound files and have an accompanying readme.txt type of file that includes info about the date originally published and the hashtags.

2. Where to put your files now you’ve downloaded them
You can upload sound files as a video (static image) to YouTube. WordPress also lets you pay £80 a year for the ability to upload more files than the basic ones (without it you can’t upload sound files, only embed them from somewhere else) – that way you can have an on-page audio player and people can listen directly. Or you could put them in Dropbox and share a public link to them for people to download.

3. Background to this story
I discovered this via Paul Bradshaw and Documentally.