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I love Dropbox, it allows me to seamlessly take my show on the road.  No more need to keep track of that one flash drive that I kept my life on (and kept losing.)


If you don’t know what dropbox is, and you’re someone who has a desktop machine and a laptop and a flashdrive, you are in for a treat.  Dropbox gives you a 2 gig floating storage area out “in the cloud.”  (This goes up to 8 gig in 250 meg increments based on referrals, so please use my link to go check it out and thanks in advance )


Now let’s get back to the subject at hand.  Thinking Rock ( is a very solid GTD implementation.  I’m not going to get much into what Thinking Rock and GTD are; this article assumes that you are familiar with both and have been having issues with trying to use Thinking Rock on a USB key and would like a better way. 


Ok, “better” may be too strong a word for what I’ve put together, let’s just call it “a USB free way”.


My biggest issue with using a USB key with thinking rock was that my settings were being saved to the java application directory on each machine that I was using.  Little things like what screen does TR open up in, what order the action screens are in, what columns are in the action screens.  This solution has fixed that for me.


Step one: Copy your TR directory to your Dropbox directory and change its name to insure that you don’t find yourself using a different directory without knowing about it. 

In my case I use the following directory name:

C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba

Add 3 files to your bin directory (C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba\bin)






                tr.exe -J-Duser.home="C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba\data" -J-Dtr.datafile="C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba\data\MalcolmAnderson.trx"



double click


to open a cmd window in this directory


in the command window enter "trb" and tab to bring up trbat.bat

press the enter key to start thinking rock






When updating version number update the "default_userdir" setting in the etc\tr.conf file

default_userdir="C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba_data/.thinkingrock/tr-3.1.2"


Step Two: Follow the instruction in the read me and edit the C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba\etc\tr.conf file


default_userdir="C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba_data/.thinkingrock/tr-3.1.2"


By putting a hash mark (#) in front of the original line comments it out, retaining it for future reference.

[Notice the convoluted combination of forward slash (“/”) and backward slash (“\”)]


That’s all I do.  On running it the first time, the _yourinitials_data directory will be created.


For a final check, open up TR on one machine, and change the opening screen to process, or the roadmap or some other screen you don’t normally use on start up.  Then exit out of the program.


Now open up TR on your other machine.  It should have opened up on your new start page.


There you go, it’s done.



As a last note, if any hard core java configuration geeks want to give me another solution, I’ll be happy to try it out.  I’m open to installing a second java installation that is local to my dropbox, it was beyond my skills and I’m just happy that this works.

Posted on Friday, July 16, 2010 7:11 PM Con Livus | Back to top

Comments on this post: Using Thinking Rock in a Dropbox folder on WinXP

# re: Using Thinking Rock in a Dropbox folder on WinXP
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how about integration with linux?
I need to use thinkingrock multiplatform on a ubuntu machine and a windows machine, do you have any hint?
Left by Simone on Feb 14, 2011 10:57 AM

# re: Using Thinking Rock in a Dropbox folder on WinXP
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Hello Malcom,

I tried to implement your sugestion using ThinkingRock and Dropbox. But it doesn't work so therefore I have following questions:
- Sometimes you use C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba\data and sometmes C:\My Dropbox\TR-3.1.2_mba_data. Could this be a mistake or is it correct unsing "\data" and "_data"?

- I guess I understood your explanation concerning the 3 files cmd_here.bat, trbat.bat and readme.txt (this one I haven't created). But to be sure must TR always be started from now on using trbat.bat? Or should this file used only once?

- After the first start I got all my entries from my original .trx-file (which I named exactly like the the file in trbat.bat) of the standard TR installation? Could this be true? I expected an empty database. Or do I use TR from my Dropbox directory and the data from the standard TR installation?

I hope you can bring light into the darkness. Thanks in advance.

Best regards. Purzel
Left by Purzel on Nov 07, 2011 5:12 AM

# re: Using Thinking Rock in a Dropbox folder on WinXP
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Hi Purzel

Yes, I did name those files the way I did on purpose. MBA are my initials so you don't need to have that, and I can't remember why I have them named the way I do. I just know that it worked that way.

Two things,
One: you should install thinking rock on one machine, and let dropbox synch it to the other machines. You shouldn't be coping or renaming files.

Two: you always double click on cmd_here.bat (which opens up a cmd instance in that directory) and then run trbat.bat from that cmd instance. (just like it says in the readme.txt file)

Hope this helps
Left by Malcolm Anderson on Nov 07, 2011 4:20 PM

# re: Using Thinking Rock in a Dropbox folder on WinXP
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Hi Malcolm, thank you for this step-by-step walk-through!
Left by Charlie Chen on Mar 10, 2015 7:49 AM

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