How to lock or unlock a Dropbox file

Updated Apr 15, 2024
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This feature is available for customers on Dropbox Professional, Education, Essentials, Standard, Business, Advanced, Business Plus, and Enterprise.

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

What happens when you lock a file?

If a file is locked, those who have access to the file will still be able to view, comment on, and share a link to the file. A person with an edit-link to a locked file won’t be able to edit the file. If they try to, they’ll see a prompt to reach out to the person who locked the file. Only the person who locked the file or a team admin can unlock files.

How to lock or unlock a file

Note: Only shared files, or files within shared folders can be locked.

  1. Log in to
  2. Click All files in the left sidebar.
  3. Hover over the name of the file and click "..." (ellipsis) on the right.
  4. Click Activity.
  5. Click Lock editing or Unlock Editing.
  1. Open the Dropbox folder on your computer.
  2. Right-click the file you’d like to lock or unlock.
  3. Click Lock Editing or Unlock Editing.

How to edit a locked 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 won’t be reflected in the original file when it’s unlocked.


Admins: Unlock a team member’s file

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

  1. Log in to with your admin credentials.
  2. Click Admin console.
  3. Click Content.
  4. Click Locked files.
  5. Click “" (ellipsis) on the right of the file you’d like to unlock.
    • 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.

Admins: Disable file locking

Team admins can turn off file locking for their team.

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Note: Files that were locked before the file locking feature is disabled will remain locked. To unlock a specific team member's file, follow the instructions above.

To disable file locking:

  1. Log in to 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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