How to sync Dropbox: an overview

Dropbox makes sure that you have the files you need when you need them. Sync, one of the core Dropbox features, keeps your files up-to-date across your computers, phones, and tablet. If you edit a document on your computer, it syncs with Dropbox and you can access the new version from your phone. 

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

To sync across your computers, phones, and tablets:

  1. Install the Dropbox app on all computers, phones, and tablets you want to sync with.
  2. Sign in to the same Dropbox account on each computer, phone, and tablet.
  3. Add files into your Dropbox folder. As long as a file is in your Dropbox folder, it syncs to all your connected computers, phones, and tablets.

Your devices are like windows into your Dropbox account. Once you sign in, you have access to your Dropbox files, no matter where you are.

Sync files from a computer

The Dropbox app on your computer syncs changes from your computer to all connected devices. Any files you add to the Dropbox folder on your computer sync with your Dropbox account. 

Can Dropbox sync files that are outside of the Dropbox folder?

Dropbox only syncs the files that are in your Dropbox folder.

After moving a file or folder into Dropbox, you can create a shortcut in the original location to access the files from there. However, this doesn't work the other way around. Creating a shortcut in your Dropbox folder to access files in their original location isn't supported by Dropbox.

Sync files from a phone or tablet

The mobile app shows you the most recent files in your Dropbox. This list of files syncs with your Dropbox account. 

You can download a file on-demand to save data, battery, and space on your phone or tablet. Tap a file to download and view the file on your phone or tablet. 

To download a file, you need access to Wi-Fi or a cellular network. If you need your files when a network isn’t available, make your important files available offline.

Syncing over Wi-Fi and cellular networks

The mobile app syncs based on the type of network your phone or tablet is connected to.

On a Wi-Fi network, the mobile app:

  • Automatically downloads updates when you launch the app, open a file, and open the Offline files tab.
  • Camera upload starts or resumes whenever you launch the app.

On a cellular network, the mobile app:

  • Only downloads updates on demand.
  • On Android devices, offline files displays an alert icon when they were modified while you were offline. To sync the latest version, tap Update all in the Offline files tab.
  • Camera upload doesn’t automatically start or resume unless the Use Cellular Data option is set to On.
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