Syncing with Dropbox

Sync is the process by which your files and folders are synchronized (synced) between your cloud storage, computers and mobile devices. It means the latest versions of files are always at your fingertips. Let’s look at how this works.

  • Sync happens automatically in your Dropbox folder. If there’s a change—a new file or folder, an edit to an existing file or folder, or a deletion—Dropbox will update those changes from one device to all other connected devices.

  • All updates happen in the background, as long as you have an active internet connection, you have the Dropbox desktop or mobile apps installed, and you’re signed in. If you’re offline, files in your Dropbox folder will sync as soon as the device is online again.

 
Note that even when synced to the cloud, files in your Dropbox folder remain on your computer. You can save space with Dropbox sync features, which allow you to make some or all your files online-only (we’ll get to that next).

Be sure to download the Dropbox app on your computer and any device you plan on using to access your files. Sign in to Dropbox on each of these devices with the same email address and password.

Learn more about sync.

Save space with selective sync

With sync, you can even free up hard-drive space by moving files and folders off your computer and into the cloud only.

Selective sync is a Dropbox feature that allows you to choose which files to remove from your hard drive. You’ll still be able to access them on dropbox.com, but they won’t appear on your computer. Selective sync helps you save space on your computer without deleting anything from your Dropbox account.

How to use selective sync to save space on your hard drive

  1. If you haven’t already, install the Dropbox app for your computer.

  2. Click the Dropbox icon from the system tray (Windows) or menu bar (Mac).

  3. Click the gear icon.

  4. Select Preferences… from the menu.

  5. Click Sync.

  6. Click Selective Sync… (Windows and Linux) or Choose folders to sync (Mac).

  7. Uncheck the boxes of any folders that you don't need on your computer's hard drive. They’ll still be available in your account on dropbox.com.

    • Note: Any folders with a check are currently downloaded on your computer

  8. When you're done, select Update.

Save space with Smart Sync

With Dropbox Smart Sync, you can set files and folders to be online-only, but still see that content in the Dropbox folder on your computer. Simply click the file or folder, and it will automatically download to your hard drive.

With Smart Sync and selective sync, you can spend less time managing your storage space and more time doing work that matters.

How to: Smart Sync

How to use Smart Sync to make content online-only

  1. Click the Dropbox icon from the system tray (Windows) or menu bar (Mac).

  2. Click the folder icon.

  3. Choose Open folder.

  4. Locate the content that you want to make online-only.

  5. Control-click or right-click the file or folder.

  6. Choose Smart sync.

  7. Choose Online-only.

How to use Smart Sync to sync online-only content to a computer

You can open a file as usual through its native application, Finder (Mac), or Windows Explorer. The file then automatically downloads to your computer. This file will continue to be synced to your Dropbox account, but it will also use space on your hard drive.

To download a file or folder for later viewing

  1. Click the Dropbox icon from the system tray (Windows) or menu bar (Mac).

  2. Click the folder icon.

  3. Choose Open folder.

  4. Locate the content that you want to make online-only.

  5. Control-click or right-click the file or folder.

  6. Choose Smart sync.

  7. Choose Local.

Mobile offline files & folders

Dropbox works differently on your phone than it does on your computer: the mobile apps don’t save files to your devices, but rather show you your files in the cloud, just like on dropbox.com. Even when you open and edit a file on your phone, you are still interacting with the file in the cloud rather than downloading it directly to your device.

But what if you want to access your files without Wi-Fi or data service? You can make files available offline by turning on the Available offline option. With mobile offline folders, you can go a step further: tag an entire folder to have its contents available offline on your phone or tablet.

How to: mobile offline files & folders

Make files available offline

  1. In the Dropbox mobile app, browse to the file you’d like to make available offline.

  2. Tap the ... (ellipsis) icon next to the file name.

  3. Tap the Available offline toggle.

To access your offline files and folders, tap Offline from the menu (Android) or Dropbox tab (iOS) on your Dropbox mobile app.

Make a folder available offline

  1. In the Dropbox mobile app, browse to the folder you’d like to make available offline.

  2. Tap the  ... (ellipsis) icon under the folder name.

  3. Tap the Available offline toggle.

To access your offline files and folders, tap Offline from the menu (Android) or Dropbox tab (iOS) on your Dropbox mobile app.

Up next: Sharing & collaboration

Now that we know how to sync our files with Dropbox, we will go in to sharing your files and folders, how to set the sharing preferences, and look at an into to collaboration with comments, notations, and Dropbox Paper.

 

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