Dropbox Settings for Windows

If you have the Dropbox program installed on your Windows computer, you can adjust its settings to change how it works for you.

If you’d like to adjust the general settings for your Dropbox account, you’ll need to go to the Dropbox website.  Our Settings on Dropbox.com tutorial has more information.

Adjusting your Settings in Dropbox for Windows

Start by clicking the Dropbox icon () in the toolbar in the lower-right corner of your desktop screen, clicking the settings icon (), and then clicking Preferences.

There are five different categories of settings; click on one to see the settings in that category.

General

This category allows you to adjust how your Dropbox access program behaves overall.

  • Show Desktop Notifications — This allows you to select whether or not the Dropbox program displays a brief message on your desktop screen whenever a file or folder is added to, changed on, or deleted from your Dropbox account.  If these messages get annoying after a while, click the check box to unmark it.

  • Start Dropbox On System Startup — This allows you to select whether or not the Dropbox program runs automatically when you turn on your computer.  We recommend that you leave this box marked, so that you don’t have to find the Dropbox program and start it yourself every time your computer boots up.

  • Language — This allows you to choose what language the Dropbox program displays in.  You can choose to use the same language that you use for your operating system, or you can pick a different one.

Account

This category allows you to change how your Dropbox access program interacts with your actual Dropbox account.

  • Location — Shows where your “Dropbox folder” is on your computer, and allows you to move it somewhere else, if you wish.

  • Selective Syncing — Allows you to choose which folders in your Dropbox account will update additions, changes, and removal of the files/folders inside to their latest versions in the Dropbox access program on the particular device that you’re using.  This may be useful if you’re only going to be using certain files on a certain device and don’t want to take up too much hard drive space with files and folders that you aren’t going to be using on that device.

  • Account Linking — Allows you to choose which Dropbox account your Dropbox program for Windows connects to.  This may be useful if you have more than one Dropbox account (for example, a work one and a personal one), or in the unfortunate circumstance that there is a problem with your Dropbox account and you need to create a new one.  In the latter case, this allows you to easily switch your Dropbox program for Windows over to the new account without having to re-install it.

Import

This category allows you to control settings related to automatically putting pictures and videos into your “Dropbox folder”.

  • Import Photos and Videos to Dropbox — This takes you to a place where you can change your settings regarding what to do when a storage device (such as a USB flash stick, camera, camcorder, or external hard drive) is connected to your computer.  You can set your computer up to automatically put files from that storage device directly into your “Dropbox folder”.

  • Enable Camera Uploads — If you connect a camera to your computer, this allows you to choose whether the Dropbox access program is allowed to take photo and video files off your camera and put them in your “Dropbox folder”, or just photo files.

  • Share Screenshots — If you click this box to mark it, when you take a screen shot (by pressing the “Print Screen” key), the Dropbox program will automatically turn it into a photo file and save it in your “Dropbox folder”.

Bandwidth

This category’s settings have to do with how much computer processing power the Dropbox  program is allowed to use when you use it to upload files to your Dropbox account, or download them from your Dropbox account.  These are advanced settings that you probably won’t use too much.

Proxies

This category of settings allows you to configure Dropbox with a proxy server, which is a way for one or more computers to connect to the Internet without putting each of those computers at risk for getting viruses and other nasty stuff.  Again, these are advanced settings that you probably won’t be using.

 

Well, those are all the settings that you can change in your Dropbox program for Windows!


Dropbox Search in Windows

If you have the Dropbox access program installed on your Windows computer, a copy of each file and folder on your Dropbox account will be inside a special “Dropbox folder” that is created on your computer.  This means that you can search for files and folders inside your Dropbox account from your computer’s desktop, just like you would search for any other file, folder, or program on your computer.

You can also search for files and folders inside your Dropbox account from the Dropbox website.  Our Searching Dropbox.com tutorial will show you how.

Searching in Drobox for Windows

Searching for all files and folders, including Dropbox folder

To search for files on Dropbox from among all of your computer’s files, just press the Start button to open your Start Menu, click inside the box labelled “Search Programs and Files”, and type in the name of the file or folder you are looking for.  It should show up in the list that appears.  Click a file to open it using its affiliated program, or click a folder to open it and see the files inside.

Searching for files and folders in Dropbox folder only

If you only want to search among files that are on your Dropbox account (as opposed to on your whole computer), the first thing to do is find and open the “Dropbox folder” on your computer.  This can be done by doing a regular search for where it is on your computer (like as described above), or by clicking the Open Dropbox Folder button in the Dropbox program interface.

Once you have your “Dropbox” folder open, you can click in the bar that says “Search Dropbox” and start typing in the name of a file or folder that you want to look for on your Dropbox account.

As you type, Windows will show you results based on how closely your search terms match the name of the file or folder, certain text within the file, or who created the file.  Your search terms will be highlighted on the appropriate part of the file.

You can also click on one of the options below “Add A Search Filter” to refine your search based on when a file or folder was last changed, or how much memory space the file takes up.

Double-click on a search result to open that file or folder.

 

That’s all there is to searching for files on your Dropbox account through the Dropbox folder on your Windows computer!

If you’re finding this a little too complicated, try searching for your files and folders on the Dropbox website instead.  You can learn how in our Searching Dropbox.com tutorial (here).


How To Share Dropbox Files and Folders in Windows

If you have the Dropbox program installed on your Windows computer, there are two ways that you can share files and folders by using it.  The first is to place said files and folders inside a shared folder that you or someone else has already created on the Dropbox website.  The second is to use the program itself to copy a direct link to a file to share.

As we mentioned, some sharing options are only available on the Dropbox website, so visit our How to Share Files and Folders on Dropbox.com tutorial to learn about them.

How to share a file or folder in Dropbox for Windows

  1. Find the “Dropbox folder” on your computer (see our How to Use Dropbox for Windows tutorial for instructions on how to do this) and open it.

  2. Find a shared folder (remember, it has a picture of two people beside it), or a folder inside a shared folder.  Then, simply click and hold the left mouse button down on a file or folder that you want to share, and then drag it over to the shared folder (or folder inside the shared folder), and release the mouse button.

Presto!  That file or folder will be shared with the person or people with whom you’ve shared the shared folder it’s inside.

How to share a link to a file in Dropbox for Windows

  1. If you have the Dropbox program for Windows installed and running, click on the Dropbox icon () in the lower-right toolbar, and then click Share Link beside a file that has recently changed inside Dropbox.

  2. From there, just find a box where you can input text (say, on your social media account), and then right-click and select Paste from the menu that appears to share the link.

Those are the two ways that you can share files or folders in Dropbox for Windows!


How To Download Files From Dropbox in Windows

If you have a Windows computer, downloading files off Dropbox is easy if you have the Dropbox program installed.  In fact, it might be the only way to get certain files off Dropbox, since they are only meant to support certain programs and can’t (or aren’t meant to) be opened directly.

Some methods of downloading files off Dropbox will still work on the Dropbox website.  See our How to Download Files from Dropbox.com tutorial to learn about them.

Downloading Files off Dropbox in Windows

Downloading files off Dropbox by using the Windows program works basically the same way as uploading them, except that it works in reverse.

  1. Find and open the folder called “Dropbox” on your computer, which the Dropbox program for Windows created when you installed it.  If the Dropbox program is running (by default, it’s automatically set to run when you turn on your computer), there’s an easy way to find this folder.  Click the Dropbox icon () in your toolbar at the bottom-right corner of your desktop screen, and then click the Open Dropbox Folder icon ().

  2. Now, use the explorer window for your “Dropbox folder” to find the file that you want to put back onto your computer, and (optionally) use another explorer window to find and open the place where you want to move your file.  Now, click and hold the mouse button down on the file that you want to download from Dropbox, drag that file onto your desktop screen (or the place that you previously opened where you want to put the file), and let go of the mouse button.  Voila!  The file is off Dropbox and back on your computer!

    NOTE: Like when you upload files through the Dropbox access program, this will NOT leave behind an extra copy of the file, and so you’ll have to create an extra copy on Dropbox if you want a backup of that file in case something happens to it on your computer.

Well, that’s about all there is to downloading files from Dropbox in Windows!


How To Upload Files To Dropbox in Windows

If you have the Dropbox program installed on your Windows computer, then putting files and folders on Dropbox is easy as pie!

You can also upload files to Dropbox from the Dropbox website.  See our How to Upload Files to Dropbox.com tutorial for further instructions.

Uploading Files to Dropbox from Windows

  1. Find and open the folder called “Dropbox” on your computer, which the Dropbox program for Windows created when you installed it.  If the Dropbox program is running (by default, it’s automatically set to run when you turn on your computer), there’s an easy way to find this folder.  Click the Dropbox icon () in your toolbar at the bottom-right corner of your desktop screen, and then click the Open Dropbox Folder icon ().

  2. Now, simply find a file or folder that you’d like to add to Dropbox, click and hold the mouse button down on it, drag it over to the “Dropbox folder” window, and release the mouse button.  Presto!  Your file is now on Dropbox!

    NOTE: Unlike uploading files through the Dropbox website, this will NOT leave behind an extra copy of the file, so you’ll have to create an extra copy on your computer’s desktop if you want a backup of that file in case something happens to it on Dropbox.

Anyway, that’s how to upload files to Dropbox from Windows in a nutshell!


How to use Dropbox for Windows

Once you have the Dropbox program installed for Windows, you can do most of the things that you do in your main screen on the Dropbox website right on your computer’s desktop.  You don’t even have to open your web browser!  In fact, there are certain things that you can do using the Dropbox program that you can’t do on the Dropbox website, like taking files off Dropbox and putting them on your computer, without having to open and save them (which, in some cases, is difficult or impossible).

There are two parts to the Dropbox program for Windows.  The first is the actual program itself, which allows you to keep tabs on what has recently changed in your Dropbox account and how much memory storage space you’ve used.  It also allows you to instantly go to the “Dropbox folder” on your computer, or to your account on the Dropbox website. 

The second is the special “Dropbox folder” that the program creates on your computer, which allows you to directly manage your files on Dropbox.  It’s basically just like your “My Documents” folder in that you can add files to it, remove files from it, and open files within it.  The only difference is that the files you put in this folder are backed up on Dropbox’s servers, both so you can recover them if something happens to them, as well as so you can easily share them with other people if you so choose.

The Dropbox program for Windows

By default, the Dropbox program for Windows should start running as soon as your computer boots up (you can change this in its settings; see our Dropbox Settings article for more information).  If it doesn’t, You can go to your Start menu and go to All Programs, then the Dropbox folder (not to be confused with the folder that contains the files that you put on Dropbox, which we will style as the “Dropbox folder”), and then click Dropbox.

NOTE: If the Dropbox program is already running, this will automatically take you to your “Dropbox folder”.

Once the Dropbox program is running, you can access it by left-clicking the Dropbox icon () in the toolbar in the lower-right corner of your desktop screen.

This will open a window that will let you do a number of different things that affect both your Dropbox account and the Dropbox program itself.  Click on the yellow buttons in the screenshot below to learn more about what each function does.

1. Sync Status – This shows you how far along Dropbox is in downloading the files in your Dropbox account to your “Dropbox folder” on this device, or the other way around.  You can click Pause Syncing to temporarily keep files and folders from changing in either location (at least for you; other people sharing your folders can still change them).  Click Resume Syncing to have Dropbox start updating your files and folders between the two locations again.

2. Settings – Click the gear icon () to open a drop-down menu where you can:

  • Check how much memory storage space you’re using on your Dropbox account
  • Get more memory storage space by upgrading your account
  • Pause or resume synchronizing files between this computer and your account
  • Change how the Dropbox access program behaves
  • Visit the “help” section on the Dropbox website
  • Close the Dropbox program

3. Recently Changed Files – These are files that have recently been added to your Dropbox account or changed within your Dropbox account, either by you or someone with whom you’ve shared a Dropbox folder.  Click on a file to take you to its location within your “Dropbox folder”.

You can also click Share Link to create an Internet link to that file on Dropbox, which you can copy and paste into an email or social media publisher. This lets your friends see it and download a copy of it.

4. Open Dropbox Folder / Website – Click the file folder icon to instantly open the “Dropbox folder” on your computer that the access program created (see section below). Or, click the globe icon to visit your folder directly on the Dropbox website.

5. Upgrade – If your Dropbox account can be upgraded, clicking here will take you to a page on the Dropbox website with information on how to do so.

The Dropbox folder

When you install the Dropbox program on your Windows computer, it creates a special folder on your computer called “Dropbox” that lets you (for the most part) directly manage the files and folders within your Dropbox account.   Again, like your “My Documents” folder, you can add files to it, remove them from it, or open files within it. Generally, it will show up in your personal system folder, like it does in the screenshot below (you can get to your personal system folder by clicking the Start menu and then clicking your name).  Notice that it has the Dropbox logo beside it; this is how you know it’s your special “Dropbox folder”.

You can also quickly find this folder by using the Open Dropbox Folder button in the Dropbox  program, as described in the previous section.  You can also use the Preferences menu in the Dropbox program to change the location of this folder on your computer, but you cannot change its name; it will always be called “Dropbox”.

Once you have your “Dropbox” folder open, you can see what files and folders are stored inside.  Like on the Dropbox website, any folder with a picture of two people beside the icon is one that you are sharing with other Dropbox users.

NOTE: If you share a folder, then all other folders and files within that shared folder will be shared, too.  Say, for example, you have a folder called “Vacation Photos” that has two folders inside it full of pictures — let’s call them “Florida” and “Bahamas”.  If you share “Vacation Photos” with someone, then “Florida” and “Bahamas” will be automatically shared with that person, too, along with all of the photos inside them.

Once you have your “Dropbox” folder open, you can add files and folders to your Dropbox account simply by saving them there, or by clicking and holding the mouse button down, dragging the files and/or folders into your “Dropbox” folder, and then releasing the mouse button.

Conversely, you can move files and folders out of your Dropbox account by finding them within your “Dropbox” folder, clicking and holding the mouse button down on them, dragging them to a location outside your “Dropbox” folder, and then releasing the mouse button.

Note: when you move a file out of a shared folder (or delete it), the file will be removed for all users sharing the folder.

See our How to Upload Files to Dropbox in Windows and How to Download Files from Dropbox in Windows tutorials for more information and further instructions on doing these two things, respectively.

That’s pretty much all there is to using Dropbox on your Windows desktop computer!


How To Install Dropbox For Windows

You can use Dropbox almost entirely through the website; indeed, there are some things that you can only do with Dropbox there.  But for the most part, having to go to the Dropbox website and log in every time you want to move your files and folders around is a total hassle.  Fortunately, you can install a small access program on your Windows computer that lets you move your files and folders in Dropbox around however you want, and you don’t even have to open your web browser!

To download Dropbox on PC

Dropbox will automatically prompt you to download its access program after you create an account, but in case you need to re-install it — or install it on a different computer so that you can get at your files easily there — here’s how to download it.

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

  2. In the top-right corner, click Download.

  3. The download prompt should appear automatically.  If it doesn’t, click Restart the Download.

  4. When the download prompt appears, click Save File.  An explorer window will pop up that will allow you to choose a location to save the Dropbox installer in.  Navigate to the file folder where you want to save the installer, and click Save.

That’s all there is to downloading the Dropbox access program!  Now, it’s time to install it!

How to install Dropbox

  1. Find the file folder where you saved the Dropbox installer, and double-click the install file with the left mouse button to open it.  (You may have to confirm that you want to run the program.)

  2. Once Dropbox downloads and installs, you will have to sign in again.  Click in the text boxes highlighted here and type in your email address and password, and then click Sign In.

  3. Dropbox should tell you that it has installed successfully.  Click Open My Dropbox Folder to have Dropbox create a special folder inside your profile folder on your hard drive, where you can put all of your files and folders that you want to upload to Dropbox.  You’ll be taken there automatically. 

Congratulations!  You’re all set to use Dropbox on your Windows computer!