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Do I need a Dropbox account to join a shared folder?

If you've received an invitation to a shared folder (as opposed to a shared read-only link to a file or folder), you need to have a Dropbox account to join it. This is because files in a shared folder are synced between members, whereas links (which aren't synced) allow recipients to view and download folders and files as local versions on their computer.

If you don't have a Dropbox account registered to the email address where you received the invitation, you'll need to either create one with that email address or ask the owner of the folder to send a new invitation to the email address for your existing Dropbox account.