How to use selective sync

This feature is available to all Dropbox users, including those on the free Basic plan.

If you’re a member of a Dropbox team account and you’d like to manage selective sync settings on your computer, use this article. If you’re an admin of a Dropbox team account, learn how to manage your team’s default selective settings.

Selective sync is a feature in the Dropbox desktop app that allows you to remove specific Dropbox folders from your hard drive so you can save space on your computer. The folders you choose to remove from your hard drive remain stored in your account on

Note: You can’t remove individual files with selective sync—only folders, which includes the files and folders inside them.

Selective sync explained

Note: The selective sync preferences you choose are unique to each computer and don’t affect the other computers you use with Dropbox.

Selective sync lets you choose which folders you’d like to store on your computer’s hard drive from all of the folders you have stored in your Dropbox account.

  • If you check a folder, that folder and the files and folders inside it are saved to your hard drive. 
  • If you uncheck a folder, that folder and the files and folders inside it are removed from your hard drive, and are only stored on

Learn how to see the sync status of your folders.

Learn what the different sync icons means.

Choose which folders to store on your hard drive

Note: You must install the Dropbox desktop application to use selective sync. 

To choose which Dropbox folders to store on or remove from your computer’s hard drive:

  1. Open your Dropbox desktop app preferences.
  2. Click the Sync tab.
  3. Under Selective Sync (Windows) or Select folders to sync to this Mac (Mac), click Select folders.
  4. Check the folders you’d like saved on your hard drive. Uncheck the folders you’d like removed.
  5. Click Update.

Selective sync vs. online-only

Making your files and folders online-only also helps save hard drive space. These files and folders will still be visible from your computer, but are stored in your Dropbox account online.

Based on how you use certain files and folders, they can automatically be set to online-only.

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