Syncing with Dropbox

Sync is the process by which your content is 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 account. If there’s a change—a new file or folder, an edit to an existing file, or a deletion—Dropbox will update those changes from one device to all other devices you've signed into.


- All updates happen in the background, as long as you have an active internet connection, you have Dropbox on your computer or mobile device, and you’re signed in. If you’re offline, files in your Dropbox folders will sync as soon as the device is online again.


Note that even when synced to the cloud, files in the Dropbox folder on your hard drive 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 Dropbox 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 Smart Sync

Dropbox Smart Sync is a feature available to customers on Dropbox Plus, Family, Professional, and Business plans. Smart Sync allows you to easily free up hard drive space on your computer by moving files and folders to the cloud (online-only).

Files and folders stored with Smart Sync will appear in the Dropbox folder on your computer, in the Dropbox mobile app, and on for easy file management. When you need to access a file that is stored with Smart Sync, just double-click it and Dropbox quickly downloads and opens it for you.

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

1. Open the Dropbox folder on your computer's hard drive.
2. Locate the content that you want to make online-only or local.
3. Control-click or right-click the file or folder.
4. Choose Smart sync.
5. Choose Online-only or Local.

You can open a file as usual through its native application, File Explorer (Windows), or Finder (Mac). 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.

1. Click the Dropbox icon from the taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac).
2. Click the folder icon.
3. Locate the content that you want to download.
4. Control-click or right-click the item.
5. Choose Smart sync.
6. Choose Local.

Save space with selective sync

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

Selective sync is a feature available on all Dropbox plans that allows you to choose which files to remove from your hard drive. You’ll still be able to access them on, 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 Dropbox on your computer.
2. Click the Dropbox icon in the taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac).
3. Click your avatar (profile picture or initials).
4. Select Preferences.
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
Note: Any folders with a check are currently saved on your computer
8. When you're done, click Update.


Access content offline

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 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.

To access your files without Wi-Fi or data service, you can make files available offline by turning on the Available offline option. Need to go a step further? Tag an entire folder to have its contents available offline on your phone or tablet.

How to: Make content available offline

1. In the Dropbox mobile app, browse to the file you’d like to make available offline.
2. Tap "
..." (ellipsis) next to the file name.
3. Tap the
Available offline toggle.

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

1. In the Dropbox mobile app, browse to the folder you’d like to make available offline.
2. Tap "..." (ellipsis) under the item's name.
3. Tap the Available offline toggle.

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

Computer backup

With computer backup, you can automatically back up certain key folders to your Dropbox account. Folders like “Desktop”, “Documents”, and “Downloads” will still be accessible from the same place on your computer, while also being backed up in the cloud. 

Get started with computer backup

Up next: Coordinate & Create

Dropbox transforms your folders into connected workspaces. Next, let’s find out how to get organized with folder overviews and other features. Plus, we’ll see how to create and manage different types of content.