Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Calibre: Mirroring settings via Dropbox

Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management software that can sync to various e-book readers, including the Amazon Kindle. It also provides automatic and scheduled fetching of RSS feeds from various blogs and news sources, which is then instantly sent/emailed to your e-book reader.  I've been using it for the latter the last six months - it's much more pleasant to read blogs and news on a Kindle than on a computer screen.  Calibre is available on Windows, OSX and Linux.

I run Calibre on a computer at home, but when I travel I turn this off and run Calibre on my notebook.  Unfortunately, this means that I also have to keep update the settings and which news feed I follow on both machines.  However, it turns out it is rather simple to synchronize these settings across machines via a cloud drive.  Below is how you do it on Windows 7 using Dropbox.  Since this setup is not specific to a particular users, it can be applied to all of your machines running Calibre.
  1. Make sure you have a Dropbox account and the Dropbox client up and running.
  2. In your Dropbox folder (e.g. C:/Users/Joe/Dropbox/), create the following subdirectory  mirror/AppData/Roaming/calibre/.
  3. [Optional] If you already have Calibre setup locally, you may wanna copy your current Calibre setting in  C:/Users/Joe/AppData/Roaming/calibre/ to this subdirectory.
  4. Create a Windows shortcut of calibre.exe (e.g. type 'calibre' in the Start menu box), but drag'n'drop it to the desktop.
  5. Right-click on the calibre shortcut icon and select Properties...
  6. Only if 'Start in' is empty, then copy the value in 'Target' to 'Start in' and drop the last part contain 'calibre.exe', e.g. afterward is should be something like "C:\Program Files (x86)\Calibre2\".
  7. In 'Target' paste the following as is (including the double quotes) as one line of text:
    cmd.exe /C "set CALIBRE_CONFIG_DIRECTORY=%USERPROFILE%\Dropbox\private\mirror\AppData\Roaming\calibre && calibre.exe"
  8. [Optional] To have Calibre start in tray, add '--start-in-tray' after calibre.exe in Step 7, cf. Calibre User Manual.
  9. [Optional] Set 'Run' to 'Minimized'.
  10. [Optional] In the 'General' tab, rename the program to 'Calibre (mirrored)'.
  11. [Optional] Click 'Change icon' and set the icon back to calibre.exe, e.g.  "C:\Program Files (x86)\Calibre2\calibre.exe" (the same as the original value of Target).
  12. Click OK.
Now you can start Calibre by clicking on the 'Calibre (mirrored)' shortcut icon.  The first time you start it, you'll be asked a few setup questions, unless you copied your old settings in Step 2.