Get started with these Dropbox building blocks

Dropbox does so much more than backup files. It syncs files across all your devices, and let’s you easily share those files and collaborate in the cloud. Get started with Dropbox in 5 easy steps.

1. Install the apps

There are 3 ways to access your account: the mobile app, the desktop app, and the Dropbox website. To get the most from Dropbox, install the apps on your phone, tablet, and computer.

Make it happen!

ballot box with check Download and install the Dropbox desktop app on your computer (laptop or desktop)

ballot box with check Download and install the Dropbox mobile app on your phone or tablet

light bulb Hint

After you install the desktop app, you’ll see a Dropbox folder on your computer’s hard drive. Files in this folder will sync to Dropbox, meaning you can access them from any device.

building construction Building block

The cloud: Dropbox is a "cloud" service. This means that your files are stored on our secure servers rather than on your computer, phone, or tablet. A server is just another kind of computer, which you access with an internet connection.

2. Sign in

The Dropbox website, desktop app, and mobile apps are like doorways that let you (and only you!) access your account.

Make it happen!

ballot box with check Sign in to each app with the same email address and password

light bulbHint

Signing in with the same email address and password allows sync to function. It also helps ensure you'll see the same files no matter which device you use to access your Dropbox account.

building construction Building block

The desktop app: With the Dropbox desktop app, files are stored in the cloud, but a "backup" copy is also stored in the Dropbox folder on your computer; files in this folder still use storage space on your hard drive. 

3. Add files

You can add files to Dropbox in a few different ways.

Make it happen!

ballot box with check On the Dropbox desktop app, add files by dragging-and-dropping

ballot box with check On a phone or tablet, open the Dropbox app and click the + icon to upload files

ballot box with check On dropbox.com, add files with the Upload button or by dragging-and-dropping

light bulbHint

You can add (and preview) nearly any kind of file to Dropbox. If you add lots of files to Dropbox at once, it may take a while for the initial upload to complete.

building construction Building block

File types: You can add (and preview) nearly any kind of file to Dropbox. However, there are certain limitations based on your computer's operating system. If you're having trouble with a file, check out our bad file checker tool

4. Share

You can share any file stored in Dropbox. You can also control who sees it, and for how long. And, thanks to the magic of sync, people you share with always see the latest version of the file.

Make it happen!

ballot box with check Share view-only access to your stuff

ballot box with check Invite others to edit your files with you

light bulbHint

Shared files are read-only, meaning people can view and comment, but not make edits. Shared folders can be read-only, or you can let people edit the files in a folder.

You can share a file with anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. If someone shares with you, you can either click the link in the email or notification you receive, or add a shared folder to your account.

building construction Building block

Downloading: If you download the file in a shared link and add it to your Dropbox, you won’t see any future updates to that file—downloading creates your own, unique version of the file.

5. Sync

With Dropbox, you can access your files on any device linked to your account. This feature—which we call "Sync"—is core to what Dropbox does. It means the latest versions of files are always at your fingertips.

Make it happen!

ballot box with check Be sure you’ve installed the Dropbox apps on all your devices, and signed in to each with the same email address and password; then add a file to Dropbox.

ballot box with check Next, open that file in Dropbox, edit it, save, and close—you’ll see these edits reflected in all the other places you use to access your account.

light bulbHint

Sync happens automatically—no manual uploading / downloading required.

building construction Building block

Sync: Whether you add a file to Dropbox or remove it, that change will reflect on all the other devices you use to connect to Dropbox. For example, if you delete a file from the Dropbox folder on your computer, you’ll no longer see it on the Dropbox website or on your phone.

Next steps

Thanks for reading! If you're done with the building blocks guide, check out the mastery guide. You'll find intros to advanced features, quick troubleshooting, and more.

How helpful was this article?

We’re sorry to hear that.
Let us know how we can improve:

Thanks for your feedback!
Let us know how this article helped:

Thanks for your feedback!

Community answers