How to Share Files + Folders on Dropbox

Storing your files on Dropbox means that they're safe against being accidentally changed or deleted on your own hard drive.  But it also makes them super easy to share with other people, especially if those people use Dropbox themselves!

There are two ways to share files and folders over Dropbox.  The first is to create a folder in your "Dropbox" folder (or move a folder there) and use the Dropbox website to invite other people who use Dropbox to share the folder with you (this will also share all files that are inside that folder).  The second is to create a link to that file or folder, and then share that with someone.

Sharing folders vs. sharing links

Sharing folders

When you share a folder with someone over Dropbox, that folder and all of the files in it will show up on the other person's Dropbox account, as well as in the "Dropbox" folder on their device(s), if they have the Dropbox program installed.  That person can edit the folder and any of the files inside it, including adding more files or removing others. 

You can set up the folder so that the person (or people) you share it with can only see the folder and the files inside it, but can't change any of them.  However, this requires you to upgrade your Dropbox account (see our Dropbox Pricing article for more information).

Sharing links

If you share a link to a file or folder inside Dropbox, anyone who has that link (even if they don't use Dropbox) can click on it to see the contents of that folder, or a preview of that file.  They can also download a copy of the file, if they wish.  However, they cannot add, remove, or edit any files in that folder, and they cannot change that file on Dropbox in any way. 

In addition, if you've upgraded your Dropbox account (see our Dropbox Pricing article for more information), you can make it so that links to files and folders require a password to unlock, and/or don't work after a specific amount of time.

Some of these methods can be done quicker through a special Dropbox program that you install on your computer, so visit our How to Share Dropbox Files and Folders in Windows tutorial for more information.

How to create a shared folder on Dropbox website

  1. Go to www.dropbox.com in your web browser and log in.

  2. In your main Dropbox screen, click the share folder icon (); it's the second icon from the right beside the search bar.  Then, choose whether you want to create a new file to share, or share an existing file.  For the purposes of this tutorial, we'll choose to create a new folder and then share it.  Then click Next.

  3. First, you'll be asked to name your new folder.  The text box should already be selected (click inside it if it isn't), so just type in what you want to call your folder, and then click Next.

  4. The next screen is where you set up the options for who you want to share the folder with, and what they can do with that folder.



    First is the check box at the top.  If it's marked, people whom you invite to share this folder can add or remove themselves or other people from the list of people who are sharing this folder (except, of course, for you, the folder's creator).  If it isn't marked, only you can add or remove people from the list of people who can share this folder.

    Next, click in the box labelled "Invite Members To This Folder" and type in the email addresses of your Dropbox-using friends whom you want to share this folder with, each separated by a space.

    Next, you can decide what the people whom you're sharing this folder with can do with the files inside the folder: whether they Can Edit them or only Can View them.  Note that in order to make it so that the people sharing a folder can only view the files inside, you have to have at least a Dropbox Pro account.  See our Dropbox Pricing article for more information.

    You can also click in the box labelled "Add a Message" and type in a custom invitation for the people you've listed to share this folder on Dropbox with you (but you don't have to).  When you're all done, click Share Folder.

  5. You can also share a folder that you've already created in or moved to Dropbox.  To begin, simply find the folder on the Dropbox website, click the Share button beside it, and then click Invite People to Collaborate.



    If the folder you're trying to share has already been shared, simply click in the box labelled "Invite More People".  Either way, the process is pretty much the same as it was in step 4.

    NOTE: If you are not the creator of a folder that you're sharing, you will not have the option to decide if other people who share this folder can invite more people or remove current people.  Also, if the creator of the folder has declined this option themselves, you will not be able to invite more people to share that folder, or remove current people who are sharing the folder.

Once you complete step 4 or 5, an email invitation will be sent to each person whom you want to share the folder with.  If they click the link inside the invitation to accept it, they will now be able to see the folder and its files, and make changes to each as they see fit (unless you've upgraded your account and have only allowed them to view the folder).

You can tell that a folder is being shared with someone if the folder icon has a picture of two person icons, and under the "Kind" header, it says "Shared Folder".

How to share a link to a file or folder on Dropbox website

  1. Go to www.dropbox.com in your web browser and log in (if you haven't already).

  2. Find a file or folder in your main Dropbox screen that you want to share a link to.  Click the Share button beside it; if it's a folder, you must also click Send Link (so Dropbox knows to only share a link to the folder and not the folder itself).

  3. Dropbox will create a link to the file or folder that you want to share.  If you have upgraded your Dropbox account, you can click Set Visibility/Expiration to lock this link with a password, or set it to stop working after a certain amount of time.  Otherwise, anyone who has this link can see the file or folder until it is changed or removed.



    Anyway, click in the box marked "Email or Name" and type in the email addresses of the people whom you want to send this link to, each separated by a space.  Then, you can click in the box marked "Message (Optional)" and type in a short explanation of what's in the file or folder that you're sharing a link to.  Then, click Send.

  4. You can also do step 2, but instead of filling out the form in step 3, simply right-click on the link to the file or folder that Dropbox generates, and select Copy in the menu that appears.



    From there, you can right-click and select Paste to put your link wherever you want people to see it: in an email, on your website, in a comment, and more!

And those are the two ways that you can share files and folders on Dropbox!

Our brand ambassador, Abby Stokes, also has some extra information on how to share files and folders in Dropbox, as well as further instructions on how to use Dropbox in general.  You can find them in this readable tutorial, or in this YouTube video walkthrough

Finally, to learn how to share stuff quicker and easier through a Dropbox program installed on your computer, head to our How to Share Dropbox Files and Folders in Windows tutorial!

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