How to use selective sync

Selective sync helps you free up space on your hard drive without deleting anything from your Dropbox account. 

Not using Dropbox yet? See how Dropbox makes syncing files easy.

Want to delete files from your Dropbox account instead?

What does selective sync do?

When you upload a file to the Dropbox app on your computer, it’s automatically saved both in your online Dropbox account and on your hard drive. With selective sync, you can select folders to remove from your hard drive but keep in your online account. 

We recommend using selective sync for files and folders you don't access very often.

If you're a Dropbox Plus, Dropbox Professional, or Dropbox Business user, we recommend using Smart Sync instead, which is a more advanced version of selective sync. 

Video: How to use selective sync

See how to use selective sync in this step-by-step video.

How to turn on selective sync

When you turn on selective sync, you can choose which files to remove from your hard drive. You'll still be able to access them from your account at 

  1. Make sure you’re using the Dropbox app on your computer. You won’t see a selective sync option from 
  2. Click the Dropbox icon in your system tray or menu bar.
    • On Linux, you may first need to click "↑" (up arrow) to see the Dropbox icon
  3. Click your profile picture or initials.
    • Skip this step if you are using Linux
  4. Select Preferences… from the menu.
  5. Click Sync.
  6. Click Selective Sync… (Linux and Windows) or Choose folders to sync (Mac).
  7. On the left-hand side, 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 green check are currently downloaded on your computer.
  8. When you're done, select Update.

What happens if I uncheck a shared folder?

When you uncheck a shared folder, it won’t sync to your computer anymore. All of its subfolders will also un-sync. 

You’ll still be a member of that shared folder, and it will still appear in your account on The shared folder will also remain active for other members of that folder. 

To remove yourself from a shared folder, you can leave the shared folder from If you're the owner of a shared folder, you can unshare it.

Seeing "selective sync conflict" or another error message?

Learn how to resolve common issues with selective sync.

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