Our favorite, all-time file sharing service, Dropbox, generously provides up to 2 gigs of file space for free. For many users this might be enough, but now that Dropbox is becoming the central cloud syncing service for shuffling and sharing stuff between computers and mobile devices, the allotted free space may fill up rather quickly if it’s not probably managed and organized.
If you’re finding yourself using Dropbox on a regular basis, you might want to check out of some of the following tips for both locating and managing lost Dropbox files on your account. If you’re new to Dropbox, download our free PDF Unofficial Guide to Dropbox
Locating File Activity
If you upload, download, and share files to your Dropbox account on a regular basis, you may sometimes forget where you saved pieces of content. You can launch your Dropbox account and use what is called the Events tab to see all the latest activity related to your account.
Clicking on the Events tab, you can quickly locate recently added, deleted, or shared files to your account. Surprisingly, you can jump back and view several months of file activity on your account.
Permanently Deleting Files
I didn’t realize this until recently, but Dropbox has sort of an Apple Time Machine feature, in that keeps a copy of your deleted files for 30 days before they are permanently deleted. So if you need to retrieve a trashed file, just click on the “Show deleted files” tab, and all your deleted files will show up as grayed out.
Click on the file/folder and then click on the little triangle which will reveal two buttons, one for restoring the lost Dropbox file or folder to its original folder, and the other for permanently deleting it. If your computer is shared with other users you will want to make sure sensitive files are permanently deleted from your account.
Automatically Move Files
One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t fill your allotted free space on Dropbox to the brim is to, well, clean it up sometimes. Yes, that can be hassle to do manually. Who among us is looking for more house chores? If you’re a Mac user, let’s quickly learn how you can use Automator, installed by default in OS X, to build a folder action to automatically move files added to your Dropbox account to another place on your computer. This is especially useful if you‘re uploading lots of photos to your Dropbox account and you want to move them to preserve space in your account.
Here’s how you set up a folder action for Dropbox. I assume that you have Dropbox installed on your Mac.
- Open Automator in your Application’s folder. Choose Folder Action in the drop-down template window, and then click, Choose.
- At the top of the workflow area, where it says, “Folder Action receives files and folders added to,” click the drop-down button and locate the local folder in your Dropbox account in which you want the content of added files automatically moved or copied to this selected folder.
- In the Automator search field, type “Move Finder Items,” to locate that workflow action. Drag that action into the main workflow area.
- In the action, click the drop-down button next “To” and locate or create a folder where you want your designated files automatically moved to.
- Save the workflow. Now when new files are added to your designated Dropbox folder (say by using a mobile app that syncs to your account) they will be moved to the selected folder on your computer.
If you no longer want to use the folder action, you can simply delete the folder from your Dropbox account, or locate the Automator workflow action in your Home Library > Workflows > Applications > Folder Actions. In there, you can delete the workflow action.
Let us know if you find these tips useful for managing your Dropbox. Also let us know about other ways you use to keep your Dropbox account well managed and under the free space limit.