There are a couple simple modifications to Dropbox link URLs you can do to make sure browsers handle your Dropbox links in the way you want.
Most modern web browsers can automatically detect, open, and otherwise handle many file types. For instance, clicking image links in a browser will typically open the image within the browser rather than download it to your desktop. Browser extensions or plug-ins can also add file type functionality to your browser. To bypass the preview page and allow your browser to handle your files, replace
dropboxusercontent in your URL. For example:
Using the new direct link above, you can further modify the URL to force the browser to download the file, rather than handle it natively. To force a file download, append a direct link with
?dl=1. For example:
(Note that the URL begins with dl.dropboxusercontent.com, as instructed in the section above.)
Enter the new URL in the address field of your browser and it should automatically download, instead of open, the file.
Accounts created before July 31st, 2012 are pre-populated with a Public folder. All the functionality of Public folders (and more) is available from anywhere in your Dropbox by creating a Dropbox link.
The primary difference between Dropbox links and Public links are that unmodified Public links will render in your browser by default rather than open in a preview window on the Dropbox website. If you would rather force the Public link to directly download rather than render in the browser, add
?dl=1 to the end of the URL, as described above.