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How to Trigger Torrent Downloads from Anywhere with Dropbox

Say you want to download a torrent on your home computer, but you’re away from home. Sure, you could just take a laptop and download it on that, but that’s hardly ideal most of the time. So how do you accomplish this?

What we’ll do is use Dropbox sync to easily get the torrent files from the laptop to the desktop PC at home, and then use the auto-watching feature of Transmission or uTorrent  to check for new torrent files in our Dropbox folder.

Setting Up Prerequisites

If you’re running OS X or Linux and you don’t already have Transmission and Dropbox installed, you’ll need to do so, though Transmission is installed by default on many distributions of Linux. If you’re running Windows you’ll want to install Dropbox and use a client like uTorrent, which supports folder watching for new torrents.

Note: Dropbox is freely available for all platforms, and the basic free version gives you 2GB of storage, more than enough for some torrent files.

Now that you’ve got Dropbox and a torrent client installed, you’ll need to create a folder in your Dropbox that will hold the torrent files you want to download. You can name this anything, but I’d suggest just calling it “Torrents”.

Setup in OS X

To set the watch folder in the OS X version of Transmission, go to its preferences and click on the “Transfers” tab. Check the box next to “Auto add” and choose your Dropbox Torrents folder from the dropdown menu:

You’ll also want to uncheck the box that says “Display a windows when opening a torrent file”. This will prevent a window popping up that requires intervention to close, something we don’t want if we’re away from our computer:

You should also change the default download location to something other than your Torrents folder, as you probably don’t want to download files directly to your Dropbox:

That’s it for setup on the Mac. Read on for setup in Linux.

Setup in Linux

To set up the watch folder on the Linux version of Transmission, go to Edit -> Preferences and click the checkbox next to “Automatically add torrents from” and choose your Torrents folder from the dropdown menu.

You’ll also want to uncheck “Show options dialog” and set the “Save to location” dropdown to something other than your Torrent folder:

Setup in Windows

If you’re using Windows, you’re probably using uTorrent for downloading torrents, so you’ll want to head into the preferences panel, find the Directories option on the left-hand pane, and then check the box for “Automatically load .torrents from:”. Once you’ve done so, then click the file browse icon and choose the Torrents folder from your Dropbox.

You will need to also choose locations for new downloads and completed downloads, or else uTorrent will prompt you.

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You will also need to head into the UI Settings section of the preferences and uncheck the option for “Show a window that displays the files inside the torrent”.

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If you’re using another client, you will probably find a similar option in the preferences pane.

Starting Torrents From Anywhere

All you have to do to start a torrent on your configured machine is to put it in your Torrents folder on Dropbox, either by dragging it to the folder on another computer, or by uploading it to the web interface (which is useful if you don’t have Dropbox installed on your other machine).

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You could also download a torrent to your Android or BlackBerry device and then use the Dropbox application to add it. Dropbox is in the Android Marketplace, and instructions for installing the BlackBerry app are available here.

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Once you’re done, you should be able to simply add files to Dropbox and the downloads will be started automatically, as you can see in the screenshot above.

Alex is a Mac geek and former hackintosher, as well as other stuff.

  • Published 10/1/10

Comments (11)

  1. Aaron

    I love this setup and have been using it for quite a while. On the Mac at least, you can take things a step further…

    You can set up a custom feed of, say TV shows, through a site like showRss, and use Feeder to automatically download the torrents to your watched folder. You can also have Transmission move the file once it’s done downloading into a different location. This means you can have things automatically added to your itunes library, for instance, or dropped into a shared folder that AirVideo connects to, allowing for instance streaming to different devices.

    It’s definitely a lot of fun, and convenient too!

  2. Hatryst

    @ Author: You’re a hackintosher?
    Please post some guides ASAP !!!

  3. Robert

    Just remember to have uTorrent running.. Many times I accidentally shut down uTorrent on my home pc then get home disappointed.

  4. AlexLayne

    @Hatryst Former hackintosher. If you want hackintosh guides, go to dailyblogged.com.

  5. Jean-Michel

    @Aaron: Thanks for the showRss information site. I didn’t know! I’m digging uTorrent to use it.

  6. Johann

    Robert – I don’t always leave my torrent client, Vuze, running but have a loop in my Autohotkey (which is always running) that will kick it off for me if a torrent file arrives in my dropbox folder. Normally its not needed but stops the minor annoyance of getting home and finding that your torrent was never started.

    I also use Habilis as an email interface to dropbox (sendtodropbox.com offers the same service) so can just email a torrent as an attachment and have it appear in my Dropbox and then download (must set your ‘torrent watchdir’ to something inside your Habilis folder structure, obviously).

    I actually have an rule on my main email account that forwards such emails to my Habilis account if the subject contains a certain keyword (i.e. password of sorts) – that way I can let my nearest and dearest email me torrent files of stuff they’ll know I like (to my normal email address but with the required secret subject word) and have them appear as if by magic for me when I get home. Any abuse or if I want to withdraw the privilege I can just change the filter sibject ‘password’ safe in the knowledge that my real Habilis email account was never made public.

    Works for me.

  7. ngethsokunthea

    I am want download software

  8. ani

    Thanks mate real help, will try and give more comments.

  9. Jean-Michel

    @Johann: Thanks for giving information about how to mail to DropBox. Damn…I’ve learnt a lot reading this thread :)

  10. Elvin

    This is an awesome trick! I love it! Thank you. I’m going to tell all my friends about it.

  11. Ibby

    Awesome! Love completely automated setups like this one. Thanks a bundle!

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