How to use the Dropbox desktop app

Discover how the Dropbox desktop app offers a simpler and faster way to work with your online files.

Image: Dropbox

You can use Dropbox as one of your online file storage sites. But trying to work with your folders and files on the Dropbox website can be slow and inconvenient. Alternatively, Dropbox offers a desktop app that facilitates the file management process. The app allows you to work directly in Windows Explorer or File Explorer to open, edit, move, copy, share and print your Dropbox files. You can choose to synchronize your Dropbox files both locally and online or only work online to save hard disk space. You can use the app with both a separate Dropbox account and a business account.

SEE: Manage multicloud (ZDNet special function) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Dropbox offers an app for Windows, Windows 10, iOS / iPadOS and Android. But for our purposes I am going to look at the general Windows app.

How to install the Dropbox app for Windows

  1. Download the app from the Dropbox installation page.
  2. Install the program from the downloaded DropboxInstaller.exe file.
  3. Log in with the Dropbox details in the Dropbox window.
  4. Click in the next window on the link for advanced settings. Here you can change the local folder where you want to save and synchronize your Dropbox files.
  5. To do this, click on the default Dropbox location folders and change them to a different folder.

You can also adjust the online Dropbox folders that you want to synchronize. To do this, click on the button to change Settings under Selective synchronization and switch off the folders that you do not want to synchronize (Figure A). Then click Update.

Figure A

Then click on the button to open My Dropbox. In the Welcome to Dropbox window, click the Get started button. Keep clicking on each screen. In the final Getting Started screen, click Continue.

The following screen then asks how you want to use the app and offers you two choices:

  1. To create files locally: Choose whether you often have offline access to files. Local files downloaded to your hard drive.
  2. Make files online only: Choose whether or not you want your Dropbox files to take up space on your hard drive. Only online files are visible on your computer, but are stored in the cloud.

Depending on your current Dropbox subscription, the first option uses the free Dropbox Basic, while the second option uses Dropbox Plus for an amount of $ 9.99 per month, invoiced for one year. With a business Dropbox account you can only create your files online. Click the button to continue with Dropbox Basic for the first option or the button to save space with Plus for the second option (Figure B).

Figure B

Windows Explorer or File Explorer will then be opened in your local Dropbox folder with all your files synchronized and available locally. You can now work with your files, just like all other files stored on your computer. You can delete, cut, copy, paste, open, edit and print any file (Figure C).

Figure C

You also have access to features that are specific to Dropbox. Right-click on a specific file that is synchronized with Dropbox. The usual pop-up menu now shows various commands for Dropbox (Figure D).

Figure D

With the Share command you can share the file with someone else via e-mail or a link. You can also determine whether you want the recipient to view the file alone or to edit it. The Send with transfer command allows you to send large files or collections of files that you could not send via e-mail. The Dropbox Link Copy command creates a link to access your file and copies it to the clipboard.

The Rewind command offers you a way to restore an earlier version of a file, restore deleted work, or restore your entire account, although this requires a Dropbox Professional subscription or higher. The View on command opens your current folder on the Dropbox site. And the Open in Dropbox command starts Dropbox online with your current file selected for easy opening.

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