How to lock or unlock a Dropbox file

File locking is a feature available to Dropbox Business and Professional users that prevents a file from being edited. This allows teams and collaborators to coordinate who is editing a file and avoid conflicted copies.

Once a file is locked, anyone with access to the file can still view, comment on, and share a link to the file. Only the person who locked the file can edit and unlock the file. 

If you need to edit a locked file, you can request that the file be unlocked by clicking Ask to Unlock in the window that appears when you attempt to open the file. Or, you can make a copy of the locked file—however, any changes made to the copy will not be reflected in the original file once it’s unlocked.

To lock or unlock a file using the Dropbox folder or the Dropbox desktop app on your computer:

  1. Open the Dropbox folder or Dropbox desktop app on your computer.
  2. Right-click the file you’d like to lock or unlock.
  3. Click Lock Editing or Unlock Editing.

To lock or unlock a file on dropbox.com:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com.
  2. Click Files in the left column.
  3. Click (ellipsis) next to the file name.
  4. Click Lock Editing or Unlock Editing.

Note: File locking is being rolled out to all Dropbox Business and Professional users in early 2020, so the feature may not be available to you until the rollout is complete.

Unlock a team member’s file

Team admins can unlock a team member's file. To do so:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com with your admin credentials.
  2. Click Admin Console.
  3. Click Content.
  4. Click Locked files.
  5. Hover over a file and click the “” (ellipses).
    • To unlock multiple files at once, click the checkbox next to each file you’d like to unlock
  6. Click Unlock files
  7. Select whether you’d like to notify the user who originally locked the file.
    • By default, the user who originally locked the file will receive an email notification that their file has been unlocked
    • If you don’t want to notify the original user who locked the file, uncheck the checkbox next to Notify user that file has been unlocked or Notify locker(s)
  8. Click Confirm.

Disable file locking

Admins can turn off file locking for their team. However, any files that were locked before the function is disabled will remain locked. Admins can unlock team member’s files by following the instruction set above.

To disable file locking:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com with your admin credentials.
  2. Click Admin Console.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click Lock editing.
  5. Toggle File Locking to Off.
  6. Click Save.
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