5 ways Dropbox Paper could have an edge over Google Docs

An early look at the new collaboration tool reveals lots to love.

pcw dropbox primary
Credit: Rob Schultz

Dropbox Paper, which was announced last October, is now in open beta. Given that the collaborative writing tool is going head-to-head with well-loved apps like Google Docs and Evernote, I couldn’t wait to get an early look. Though Paper is clearly still a work in progress, I’m impressed with its simple design, thoughtful features, and especially its ease-of-use. Here are five features that are especially promising.

1. Adding images is a drag—in a good way

There are a few ways to add and work with images in Paper, but the easiest is to just drag and drop them from your desktop or hard drive into your document.

Once an image is inserted, you can change its placement by dragging it to a new location. Align it left or right and any text will automatically wrap around it, or place it between two paragraphs to have it display full-width. Double clicking on any image in your document will open a full-screen gallery view of all the images in your document.

2. You can embed almost anything

Paper makes it just as easy to add rich content to your project. Paste a link to an audio or video file, a GIF, or just about any other media to embed it in your document. You can delete the link once the file is added for a cleaner display.

paper embed video

You can embed videos and other rich media by pasting the link in the document.

Paper currently supports media from a variety of popular services including YouTube, Vimeo, Spotify, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs,  and, of course, Dropbox.

3. Collaboration is key

Collaboration is the key feature of Paper, and it offers several features to help you and your team can work better together:

Sharing: To share any Paper document, click the blue Share button in the top-right corner and enter your collaborator’s name or email address in the drop-down box. Then click Link settings and choose who can view the document (anyone with the link, or just the invitee) and what they can do with it (edit or only comment).

Mentions: You can make content in your document discoverable by a specific person by typing @ followed by their name. If they aren’t already a collaborator on that document, they’ll be invited to join. In either case, the person will get a notification alerting them to the content.

paper task list

You can turn any text into a task list and assign items to people.

Comments: You can add comments to any part of a document by highlighting the relevant line of text. In the toolbar that pops up, click the speech bubble. Your comment will appear in the right margin. Add an @ mention to alert your colleague.

Attribution: Paper displays an author’s name next to any text they contributed—even if the text is copy and pasted from another Paper document.

Task lists: You an create lists of to-do items in any document by highlighting text and clicking the check-mark icon in the popup toolbar. Then put @ mentions next to each task to assign them.

4. You’ll always remember your (document) history

The ability to track document changes is an essential feature in any collaboration tool. Paper makes it exceedingly simple. Just click the three-dot icon in the upper right of the document and you’ll be able to see all that document’s changes and who made them along with the comment history.

paper revision history

Paper’s revision history makes it easy to track who made what changes to a document.

You can sign up here to immediately try Paper yourself.

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