Top 10 Uses For Dropbox You May Not Have Thought Of

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uses for dropboxFor many advanced computer users, Dropbox is the premiere cloud-based storage and sharing document service. It has replaced the Documents folder on my Mac, and is the primary way I sync files between my devices. Similar and equally useful free services include Google Drive and Box.com.

We’ve already covered some awesome uses for Dropbox, including How to Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac], how to send send files to your Dropbox without using Dropbox, how to upload files faster and easier with Dropbox, and even how to host a WordPress blog on your Dropbox account. The following are a handful of other ideas for new and maybe more experienced users of Dropbox.

Get Your Group Dropboxed

If you happen to be the only one on your committee, team, or in your family using Dropbox, then definitely get them on board with a free account. Explain to them what Dropbox is and let them know you’ll be sending out invites to set up an account on their computer. For each user that registers with your invite, you get 500MB more space, up to 16GB.

Just log in to your Dropbox account and click “Get free space!“, followed by “Refer a friend to Dropbox.”

uses for dropbox

When your group is on board with Dropbox, you can set up a folder that everyone can access and sync to, and they won’t be able to see or access your other Dropbox folders. It’s like having your own in-house file server.

Quickly Link To Any Dropbox File

When you need to share any file in your Dropbox account, simply right- or Control-click on the file, and select “Get Link.” You can share that link with anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. They will not get access to your other Dropbox folders and files, just the one you share a link to. If you want to share a bundle of files, just save and combine them into a zip folder, add the zip file to your Dropbox account, and get the link for it.

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dropbox uses

Similarly, you can share a link to the special Public folder of your Dropbox, which make its contents available to anyone who has that link or access to your Public folder.

Automatically Upload iOS Photos To Dropbox

Now when you install Dropbox to your iPhone or Android device, you can select to have it upload all existing and/or new photos on your mobile device to a special Camera Uploads folder in your Dropbox account. This upload process takes place each time you launch the Dropbox app on your device. It will even remember which image and video files have already been uploaded and skip them. This is another great way to have an instant backup of your mobile photos.

Instant Photo Gallery

Speaking of photos, Dropbox also offers a way to create a gallery of selected photos from your account. Upload the photos you want to share to the special Photos folder in your Dropbox account. Get and share the link to the folder, and those photos can be viewed online in a Gallery format.

dropbox uses

Offline Access To Dropbox Documents

If you’re like me, you probably have added Dropbox to all your other computers and mobile devices. But you might not know that you can also designate particular files for offline viewing. Simply open the document in Dropbox on your mobile device and select the star icon in the menu bar.

dropbox uses

This will make the document available under the Favorites menu of Dropbox, and if for some reason your device doesn’t have 3G or Wi-Fi access, you can view it offline.

Manage Dropbox Downloads

If you have Dropbox on a laptop or notebook computer, you might not know that its downloads might be taking up significant space on your internal hard drive, because of all the documents and photos you upload to it. If this is the case, you can launch the Dropbox app on your PC, click on its Preferences > Advanced, and select Change Settings. From there you can deselect folders you don’t want synced to that computer.

top uses for dropbox

This will add space back to your local drive, but those unchecked folders will still be available on your other devices. Dropbox doesn’t download data to your mobile devices; you can only access data from the cloud service of Dropbox on those devices.

Use IFTTT Hacks

If you’re a Dropbox user, it means you’re probably a computer geek, whether you know it or not. So you might as well extend your geekdom to a service called IfThisThenThat. See this article for how to set it up.

Ifttt has an entire Channel of recipes for Dropbox that you will want to look into. Here’s an example. Say you want to keep a list of all your Twitter retweets and replies. There’s an Ifttt recipe that will capture all your retweets and replies and add them to a text file in your Dropbox account. It will actually do all this automatically in the background after you get it set up. Check out the site for dozens of other recipes.

top uses for dropbox

Dropbox To Google Drive

If you’re set up with Dropbox, you might as well add a few more free cloud-based services to your computer and mobile arsenal, such as Google Drive and/or Box.com. They both are very similar to Dropbox.

top uses for dropbox

Once you’re set up with say Google Drive, you can use another Ifttt recipe that will automatically backup any files you drop into your Public Dropbox folder. There’s a similar recipe for sending from your Dropbox to your Box cloud account.

Drafts To Dropbox

There are lots of iOS and Android apps that connect to Dropbox. One of my favorites is a notes app called Drafts ($1.99). When Drafts is launched, it automatically opens a new text document, and whatever I type in the new document can be added to a text file in my Dropbox, or one of a dozen other apps.

Drafts app

I sometimes prefer this approach to syncing text because I don’t want to create a new file in my iPhone Notebook app just for a small piece of text I need to quickly save.

Previous Versions

You may not know that Dropbox actually keeps tracks of the changes you make to documents saved to your account. If you need to restore a previous version of a document, log into your online Dropbox account, right- or Control-click on the file, and choose “Previous versions.” Your saved versions are there without cluttering up your internal hard drive.

uses for dropbox

That’s it for this round of Dropbox tips. Let us know of any other tips and ideas of other uses for Dropbox. Click here for our listing of other Dropbox related articles.

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Comments (46)
  • J

    Hi I was just wondering if anyone could help. I use dropbox for school and when I first got the app for my iphone it automatically uploaded all my photos to the app. I was very annoyed and did not want that to happen. I managed to take them off, however, I am wondering if anyone saw them or if they could still be there?

    HELP thanks

    • Bakari Chavanu

      J, I’m not sure why anyone would see them unless you shared the link to the folder where the photos were stored. I know that Dropbox does keep a history of changes you make to documents saved to Dropbox, but I’m not sure if it backs up images that are deleted from your account. I doubt that it does. But check your account to make sure.

    • J

      Thanks for responding! And since I use dropbox for school, I am a part of this certain folder I guess you would call it where teacher and students can post whatever for each other… so I assume if I uploaded my photos everyone could see?

      What happened was it said I had enabled the camera upload, so once I disabled I assume that all photos are gone?

      Ps. where is the history?

    • Bakari Chavanu

      J, since you’re using say a shared class folder, your photos would not get automatically uploaded to that folder. They should have been uploaded to a separate folder titled “Camera Uploads’ or something like that. That folder would be private just for you. Your classmates can’t see it. Dropbox users can only view the content of folders you explicitly share.

      I also checked, and yes Dropdox does keep your deleted photos for I think a period time, but only you can see them. Sign on to your Dropbox account through the web browser, click on the Photos folder, and the small trash can icon in the menubar. There you should find your deleted photos if they are still in the trash.

  • Steve vox

    I love Dropbox. All kinds of cool stuff you can do.

  • Shahbaz Amin

    Great, thanks!!
    I read this article about two weeks ago I think, but still there are things I could revisit and learn…

  • MICHAEL CARACAPPA JR

    Great article!! There is just one question I have.

    I am having a hard time understanding why someone would want to backup their dropbox with google drive, or really just back up any cloud service with another cloud service. seems kinda redundant. I’m not criticizing it at all, just hoping someone could explain the reasoning behind it.

    Thanks!

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Lol, well us computer nerds get all paranoid about losing stuff, so backing up in more than one place is kinda like increased insurance. Thanks for your feedback, Micheal.

  • Allen

    This may sound strange, but I have a Dropbox need and haven’t found an app for it yet. I would like to create a secure web page where I can give a group of people access to view files within a specific Dropbox folder. The reason for not just having them signup for Dropbox is that I don’t want a) them to have all of the files downloaded on their computer, and b) I don’t want them to accidentally remove a file from a shared folder (as often happens when someone accidentally drags or deletes a file from a folder).

    Anything like that out there?

    Thanks!

    • Mike

      I’m pretty sure that google drive might better suit your needs. It allows you to share files/docs with people but only allow them to view it. you can also allow people to edit it but prohibit a specific document or file from being downloaded. I’m just not sure if the person you are sharing it with needs a google account. But if this is something you will be using often with the same people it will be worth setting it up for them.

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Thanks, Mike, for that suggestion.

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Allen, I believe you can make Dropbox shared folders read only. And users can also go into the Preferences of Dropbox and disable folder content downloading to their computer or device. Other than that, I’m not sure about any other app for supporting what you’re looking for. You might also try writing Dropbox directly to see if they have a suggestion.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.