If you are one of the 300 million people who use Dropbox, you know that it’s an incredibly useful tool for cloud-based file storage. Any files you save to your Dropbox folder automatically sync to all of your devices that have Dropbox installed, and it’s also super helpful for sending large files to others or collaborating on projects. A few months ago we shared 7 Ways to Use Dropbox for Business, and today we’d like to take that a step further and offer some bonus Dropbox tricks you may not know about.
Dropbox Tricks: Six Tips to Get Even More Out of Dropbox
Sharing a link vs. sharing a folder. This is an important distinction when you are sharing files with friends or collaborating with coworkers. When you share a link (by right-clicking the file or folder and selecting “Share Dropbox link,” then sending this link to others), anyone who clicks on this link will be able to VIEW the file or folder. However, any edits or changes they make will not sync with your original file/folder.
When you share a folder, on the other hand, the person you share with will have access to all of the contents of that folder, including the ability to add to, change and delete files there. To share a folder, open your Dropbox account in your web browser, navigate to the folder and click the little folder icon with a rainbow on it in the top right. You will then be able to enter the email addresses of the people with whom you wish to share the folder.
Here’s an easy rule of thumb: If you want to show a photo album to Grandma, share a link. If you want to collaborate on a project, share a folder. Here’s a more detailed explanation of shared links vs shared folders.
Recover deleted files. You know that moment of panic when you open a file you were working on, only to discover that the changes you made earlier didn’t save? Or, your coworker saved over a version that you needed? Not to worry. Dropbox saves a copy of your deleted or revised files for 30 days. To view past versions of a file, right-click on the file and click “Previous Versions.” When viewing your Dropbox files in your web browser, you can also click on the little trash can icon on the top right of the screen to view and restore deleted files.
Make Dropbox your default location to save files. Want to use Dropbox instead of your My Documents folder as your default location to save files? To set this up (for Windows users), right-click your My Documents folder and select the “Location” tab. Paste the Dropbox file path into the field and click “Move.” Now your My Documents folder and all its contents will be stored in your Dropbox folder.
If you’re a Mac user, open Terminal (in Utilities) and type “cd Dropbox” (without quotes). Press enter, and then type “ln -s ~/Documents /Documents” (again, no quotes) and press enter again.
Save photos automatically. If you’re using Dropbox on mobile, you can find this option under Settings in the mobile app. Any photos or videos you take on your phone will then be automatically uploaded to Dropbox. You can also set this up in the desktop version by clicking on the Dropbox icon and selecting “Preferences”. Anytime you connect your camera to the computer, you’ll be prompted to save the photos to your Dropbox folder.
Select which folders to sync. Using your Dropbox account for both personal and work files? Select which folders to sync with which devices so that you don’t have to worry about your personal photos showing up on your work computer. Navigate to Preferences and click on “Selective Sync” in the Account tab. Then simply check the boxes next to the folders you want to sync to that computer or devices. Repeat this process on your other devices.
Be careful using special characters in file names. Certain characters in file names may prevent your files from syncing with the other users in your shared folder – especially if some of you are Mac users and others use PCs. Avoid using the following characters, which are invalid for Windows file names: [ ] / \ = + < > : ; ” , *
Tip: If you suspect that some of your shared files aren’t syncing properly due to a file name issue, use Dropbox’s “Bad Files Check” tool to locate those files and save them with a different name.
Give these tips a try and soon you will feel like master of your Dropbox universe. What other tricks or tips would you add to the list?