Try to attach a file that’s 25 megabytes or bigger to an outgoing Gmail message and what do you get? I have no idea, because I would never attempt such a stunt, but I’m guessing it’s a friendly error message informing you that the raw video trailer for your documentary about paperclips is the digital equivalent of a wide-load trailer and unfit for this particular mode of travel. What now? You’ve tried everything! Except no, you haven’t.
For starters, if you’re teaming up on this groundbreaking documentary of yours, and need to share the material with a partner 3000 miles away so they can edit and play around with it on their own, then might I suggest taking a look at the menu atop of the Gmail screen called “Documents”? This is a nifty little tool that allows you to upload files to a cloud (not literally a cloud, relax), from which they can be plucked by anyone you want to grant access.
Just click the “Upload” button, drag your file into the box that pops up, then hit “Start Upload.” When you go back to the main Google Documents page, you’ll see that file in a list: hover your cursor over it and you’ll find a drop-down list of actions to choose from, including “Share,” which prompts you to enter the email address(es) of whoever was supposed to get a look at this item in the first place, thereby dropping the file into their Google Documents list. If the file happens to be an actual document–say an Excel spreadsheet–then both of you will have the ability to update/edit it and re-save it within the cloud, which can be accessed by any computer via your Google account. In this way, for example, you can keep a collaborative running tally of how much money you owe your far-too-understanding girlfriend.
Or, you know, don’t use Google at all! Seriously! There is a whole ‘nother Internet, you know. Head over to Dropbox.com, where you can download a special application that does more or less the same thing and implants a special icon in the right of your menu bar (i.e., where you look on your screen when you want to see how many hours it is until lunch). Clicking this icon will allow you to see and instantly download items stored in the cloud, which can easily be sorted into labeled folders the same way they are on your hard drive. In some type of viral marketing twist, inviting friends to download and install and share on Dropbox themselves gets you even more free storage space. So, you know, get networking.
Similarly, Box.net‘s “personal” accounts give you a free 50 gigabytes of storage, and let you send files up to 1 gigabyte. Which, how would you even do that? Box.net is easy when you need to get something onto a mobile device, like an iPhone, that can’t be transferred through iTunes. (For instance, books: in reading applications like Stanza, you can sign use Box.net as a source to download .epub book files straight onto your phone.)
For a quick-and-dirty, no-frills exchange of files clocking in at under 200 megabytes, though, there is just no beating Mediafire. Sign up for a free account at Mediafire.com, which will give you a virtual storage space; the interface from there is so user-friendly and self-explanatory I feel almost stupid going into detail about it. And yet. Click the green “Upload To This Folder” button and start cramming some files in there–after you’re done the website spits out a “sharing link,” and you can pass this url along to anyone who needs the stored file in question. When they follow that link they’re directed to a page where they can download whatever it is with just one click.