Link to a file in e.g. My hard drive or Dropbox


#1

Hi,

A complete newbie but enjoying it so far. I’d like to be able to store a hyperlink to one of my files in a field - I thought URL but it doesn’t seem to work. Can anyone help?

Many thanks
Denis


#2

Could you elaborate a little more on what you mean when you say that the URL field “doesn’t seem to work”? You should be able to put a Dropbox share link in a URL field.


#3

Hi Katherine,
I’m seeking to store a Dropbox file path in a field, which, when clicked will open the file iN Excel. Airtable support has now advised this is not possible, which seems a major gap in functionality that ought not to be too hard to fix.I’m trying to think of a workaround.


#4

Actually, you’re coming up against a built-in browser security model, rather than a deficiency in Airtable. That said, there is a way around it.

First, if you simply enter a Dropbox file path (“C:\Users[Username]\Dropbox[Filename]”) into an Airtable URL field, it will prepend “http://” to the path. When you select the URL in Airtable, your browser then tries to access a file at the web host “C:%5CUsers%5C[etc.]”, which does no one any good.

To get around this issue, you can prepend your own protocol section to the URL: “file://C:\Users[Username]\Dropbox[Filename]”. This results in a correctly formatted URL within Airtable – but it probably still won’t work, as most modern browsers will refuse to open a local URL (e.g., a file URL) based on a link in a remote (http://) web page.

However, depending upon your browser, you may be able to install an extension that will allow it to open remotely-linked local URLs. For instance, the Chrome extension LocalExplorer dynamically rewrites all “file://[etc]” URLs encountered to read “localexplorer:[etc]”; “localexplorer:” URLs are then opened by a so-called “integration module” installed as part of the extension installation process.[1] In my tests, it seems to work OK, in that selecting the link within Airtable results in a Dropbox-homed .xls file being opened locally in Excel on my machine – with one caveat: Doing so somehow breaks the link with the Airtable server, resulting in a “Lost connection to the server” error message and requiring a refresh of the page. There are presumably similar plugins for other browsers, but be warned: The ones I’ve found seem very susceptible to breakage following browser upgrades. If this is mission-critical functionality, you’ll want to disable automatic updates on your browser – if that’s even a thing anymore.

And, of course, upon installing such an extension, you potentially open yourself to malevolent web sites. Frankly, the risks are probably minimal, thanks to the default browser functionality you’re trying to bypass, but they’re risks, nonetheless.

Alternatively, you can use a Dropbox shared link instead of a file path in the UR field, set to force a download. This will cause a copy of the file to be downloaded from Dropbox and automatically opened in Excel – with the downside it creates a second (and then third, and fourth…) copy of the file on your local machine. I’ll upload a Show-and-Tell later today that discusses both the shared link and “file://[etc]” approach for both Dropbox and Google Drive.

Hope this helps,
Vann


  1. This is an ugly extension to install; you’ll need to follow closely the multi-step installation process detailed in the extension docs.

Link to a local file?
#5

Vann

Many thanks for this. I will play around with your suggestions and let you know.

Best wishes
Denis