Product Review

Dropbox Paper Review 2020

Daniel Midson-Short
November 18, 2019

Paper is a free product from Dropbox which is built mainly to help teams work together on the same doc on rich media in real-time collaboration.

The best thing about this product, according to me, is the ease to get started with it. If you’re already a Dropbox file user, you can directly login using your Dropbox account, or there’s also an option to sign-in using your Google account.

Either it’s just a matter of seconds to start using this app. And the best part is, you don’t need to download any app.

Just go to its website, log in, and done!

However, the good things are not just limited to the registration process; there are plenty of other aspects where Dropbox does a great job.

Wanna know what those pros and cons are? Go through the following advantages of Paper.

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Our Verdict

Do I recommend Dropbox Paper? Yes and no. Because simply put, it can’t fulfill their requirements. It would be ideal to invest on a paid app like Scrivener , ProWritingAid , or Write! App .

Dropbox Paper Pros

When you first enter into this software, it looks quite similar to Google Docs, but as you explore more all the major differences come forth, including box notes and keyboard shortcuts.

In this section, I’ve mentioned all the attributes that attracted me (and most other Dropbox users) the most about Paper. After that, in the next section, we’ll discuss the areas where it missed the mark completely.

Let’s do it.

#1 Simple and easy-to-use

What’s the use of a to-do list folder or collaboration tool if it’s too complicated to use, right?

And it becomes more evident when you’re building a tool for writers. Most writers are not techno-geeks, so the product better be in its simplest form. And I think Dropbox took this thing by heart.

Using Paper is as simple as taking out a notebook and start writing, or logging into your favorite word processor. When you log into the tool, this what you come across:

It literally says, start typing and convert your thoughts into words. It’s part of why we love Dropbox for business so much.

#2 Collaborate with team members

This is the USP of Paper. In its website, Dropbox for business explicitly says, Paper is more than a doc – It’s the workspace for teams to bring creation and collaboration together.

And it walks its talk as far as collaboration features, smart sync, and file sharing are concerned.

You can invite an individual or your whole team to create a project together in the desktop app, assign tasks, or get their feedback in real-time. And all this, just a few clicks away.

Just click on “Invite” at the top-right corner and enter the email address (s) of whoever you want to share your doc and storage service with. And finally, click “Invite” again to start collecting ideas.

Dropbox paper behaves similarly to Microsoft Word documents when it comes to actual content editing of the documents stored on it. However, MS Word alone lacks compatibility with Dropbox to provide efficient collaboration alone, which is where the ability to share a paper doc with colleagues comes into effect.

Paper users will find themselves able to share and collaborate much more effectively than passing a shared document around via emails.

You can also leave or reply comments as if you’re chatting with someone on an instant messaging app.

#3 Compatible with all the devices

Your Dropbox text folder made it as easy as it could to provide universal access to its tool to anyone, no matter where he/she lives or what device he/she uses.

Firstly, there is no app for desktop users, neither Windows nor Mac. Just open the Dropbox Paper website on any browser, login or sign up if you don’t already have an account and start using it. You can also use Dropbox storage and add emojis to your heart’s content.

But is it the same for mobile users too? Can they share files as easily as everyone else?

Umm… not really. There are dedicated text formatting apps for Apple and Android that you can download from their respective app store. And then login to the tool to access your files and tasks using your credentials.

#4 Create your own writing templates

I was a little skeptical of whether to include this as a free Dropbox plus point or not. Let me tell you why:

When you know a software provides sharing templates, you expect to find pre-designed templates and file types inside the software. But this is not the case with Paper.

After so much hunting, I couldn’t find any writing templates in this tool. However, it allows you to manually build your own writing templates and save them in folders for future reference. A good template isn’t necessary to get the most out of Dropbox, as it’s already a self-contained app.

Dropbox Paper features overview

#5 Dropbox Paper Timelines

A timeline is probably one of the best uses of Dropbox paper that each user will appreciate. It allows a group to track project progress, check on reports needed, or set a deadline for an important task. However, timelines don’t appear in a user’s to-do list. 

Additionally, only PC users can edit a timeline, while mobile users can only take a look at it to see what needs to be done.

Dropbox paper timelines

Dropbox Paper Cons

That was all I had in the pros section. Now, as promised, let’s discuss the areas where Paper lags behind the other writing apps and Dropbox offers.

#1 No Storyboard or brainstorming tool

There’s no doubt, scripting anything on Paper takes seconds. But there isn’t anything like a storyboard that helps you quickly shape your stories or characters and a file request to collaborate on. As you can find in Write App, Final Draft, or Scrivener.

#2 Can’t create and save different versions of the content

Paper doesn’t offer any features or formatting options that allow you to keep the previous versions of your content so you can refer back to it in the future in case you don’t like the changes you made.

#3 Limited export options

Even though Paper looks like Google Docs, it’s not even close to it when you consider the different formats the latter supports for exporting files.

I was surprised to know; you can export your word online writing and editing only as PDF, Docx, and Markdown Content on Dropbox Paper.

Dropbox Paper is notoriously difficult when images are involved, and its text editing capabilities aren’t much better from the get-go. Exporting files to another format, then saving them back from a rich-text editor (such as Word or Google Docs) will work much better in your favor.

#4 Doesn’t block on-screen obstructions

The collaborative user-interface of Paper is clean, but you can still see menus on both, right and left sides on the Android app. And if you are trying to turn the “Full-Screen” mode on using the menu then good luck to you. It’s not even mentioned there.

But ironically, when you hit F11 on your keyboard, it enters the full-screen mode. The shortcut isn’t really well-known or covered in the tutorial well, but those who have looked have been able to find it. It covers your whole screen, but still, the easy tool menu is visible.

Dropbox has also overlooked Focus Mode that you usually find in a writing or word-processing app.

Dropbox Paper pricing plans and payment options

Paper is a free product from Dropbox, period.

Dropbox Paper

FREE
  • Simple and easy-to-use
  • Collaborate with team members
  • Compatible with all the devices
  • Create your own writing templates
  • No Storyboard or brainstorming tool
  • Can’t create and save different versions of the content
  • Limited export options
  • Doesn’t block on-screen obstructions

Do I recommend Dropbox Paper?

Yes and no.

Yes, if you’re a single or team of content creators who often work together on a single project and rigorously critic each other work. I think freelance writers, marketing agencies, and even bloggers would find great benefit in Dropbox Paper.

You can also go for Paper if you’re looking for an alternative to Google Doc.

Except for the above reasons, there’s no way I would suggest authors, screenwriters, or novelists use Paper.

Why? Because simply put, it can’t fulfill their requirements. For example, they can’t save the previous versions of their document, can’t block on-screen interruptions, and there’s no storyboard, too.

Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect similar features to be introduced to Paper, either, at least in the near future. To begin with, it would probably be a monumental task to accomplish both collaboration, and the level of detail that script-taking programs have. 

Additionally, when such options already exist, you can probably find a way to combine them.

So, it would be ideal for these professionals to invest their money on a paid app like Scrivener or Final Draft.

The abilities of these apps allow you to go above what Dropbox can offer to Paper users. While you will lose the ability to create Dropbox files, Scrivener and Final Draft both have plenty of options to save files in various formats, and have a more flexible workspace to use.

A Dropbox paper doc can be used to jot down an idea until you transfer it to other media, but it works much better as a full-fledged collaborative tool than a note-taking app for your Android or iPhone. For note-taking, consider an app such as Evernote instead.

FAQs

Is There a Dropbox iOS App?

The one outstanding feature of Dropbox Paper is that it can connect to a vast amount of devices. This includes all iOS mobile devices, so you can use your iPad to work on essential documents in between YouTube binges.

What Are Some Dropbox Paper Alternatives?

Frankly, for what it does, Dropbox Paper is a vital app that no other competitors have managed to replicate. Google Drive offers some of Paper’s capabilities, but it focuses less on user collaboration inside a document and more on file and folder sharing.

On the other hand, Dropbox files are made to be used by multiple people at the same time, at the small cost of reduced text editing abilities and a lack of other features, such as version saving.