How to sync Dropbox to your computer or phone

Updated Jan 12, 2024

This article is a basic introduction on how Dropbox syncs your files. It explains how you can store your files in Dropbox and sync them between your devices. 

Once you sync your files with Dropbox, you can access and manage them everywhere you use Dropbox. This includes:

  • On your computer, via the Dropbox desktop app
  • On your mobile phone or tablet, via the Dropbox mobile app
  • On any device with a web browser, via

Does Dropbox update files automatically?

When you sync files with Dropbox, those files are kept up to date everywhere you use Dropbox. This means that if you add or make changes to a file from one device, the file is automatically updated everywhere else.

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

How to start syncing your files with Dropbox

You can start syncing all your files across all of your devices with a free Dropbox Basic plan. This includes up to 2 GB of storage space and has no time limit.

You can upgrade to a paid plan with more storage space or additional features at any time.

To get started:

  1. Create an account on
    • You can create a free Dropbox Basic account with 2 GB of storage. Or, a paid account will give you additional storage space and more features.
  2. Download and install the Dropbox desktop app for your computer and the Dropbox mobile app for your phone or tablet.
  3. Log in with your email and password.
  4. From your laptop, computer, tablet, or mobile device, you can:

FAQs about file syncing

Can I use Dropbox syncing to move my files to a new computer?

After you follow the steps above to get started, your files are synced to Dropbox, so you don’t need to move or transfer them manually between computers or devices anymore. You can access them from any device through or the Dropbox desktop and mobile apps. 

If you’d like your files saved on a computer’s hard drive (or multiple computers’ hard drives), as well as to your Dropbox account online, you can choose to do so when you download the Dropbox desktop app. When prompted, choose Available offline instead of Online-only.

Note: LAN sync is not currently supported on computers running Dropbox for macOS on File Provider. Learn more about how to enable LAN sync in Dropbox.

What’s the difference between files that are available offline and online-only?

Files and folders that are available offline, the default setting, are accessible when not connected to the internet. They take up space both on your computer's hard drive and in your Dropbox account. If you set your files to online-only, they will still appear in the Dropbox folder on your computer. However, you can only open them when connected to the internet. 


Note: When you open files in the Dropbox folder from your computer, they will be downloaded to your computer automatically.

What’s the difference between syncing files and backing up files?

Backing up and syncing files are similar actions, but they’re intended for different purposes.

Backing up files from your computer or external drive to Dropbox creates a safe copy in case things go wrong. Backed-up files aren’t meant for sharing. Changes you make to files you have backed up in Dropbox won't update on your computer or hard drive.

Syncing files to Dropbox makes those files available for editing and sharing wherever and whenever you use Dropbox—using your mobile device on the go, in the office, or remotely on your personal laptop. Whenever you make a change to a file you have synced, those changes will be synced in Dropbox everywhere.

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