Internet Productivity

21 Ways Automating Dropbox Can Save You Time Every Day

Rob Nightingale 02-05-2016

At its core, Dropbox is a service for storing and sharing files on the cloud. If you’re one of its 200 million users, this is probably what you mostly use Dropbox for, too.


But there’s a lot more that Dropbox offers to make your life easier.

Some of Dropbox’s underused features 15 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Dropbox Cloud storage services have come and gone, but Dropbox is probably the one that's been here the longest. And now it has upped its game with a host of new features. Let's explore. Read More include commenting on files, bookmark storage, podcast hosting, and creating photo albums. There’s even some pretty impressive team collaboration Improve Collaborative Editing Of Office Files With Dropbox & Project Harmony Dropbox has made a promising move towards collaborative writing and editing. Project Harmony offers Dropbox for Business users early access to a new desktop collaboration feature. Read More and PDF annotation Dropbox Adds Support for PDF Annotations and iWork Dropbox released another iOS app update that includes support for viewing annotations in PDF documents, support for exporting documents with more iWork formats, as well as assorted bug fixes. Read More tools that many people haven’t tried yet.

In other words, if you use Dropbox to its full potential, you could save yourself a lot of headaches.

Dropbox Sketch

This is only the tip of the iceberg, though. If you use Dropbox alongside a couple of other apps, you can easily automate a large number of repetitive tasks, saving you time Squeeze an Extra Hour out of Each Day with These 10 Quick Tips A few simple habits can help us shed some inefficient ways and increase our reservoir of time doing the things that matter. These ideas can get you one extra productive hour every single day. Read More , and shortening your to-do list 6 Tips for Using OneNote as Your To-Do List Are you making the most of your OneNote to-do list? Apply our tips for better OneNote checklists. Read More .


Making Your Life Easier

Last year, MakeUseOf writer Akshata Shanbhag covered a few ways Dropbox could make your life easier Make Dropbox Even More Amazing with These Time-Saving Shortcuts If you have trusted Dropbox with your files, you might as well do all you can to get more out of it. Begin by trying out the awesome shortcuts listed here. Read More . That article shows you how to:

  • Create a Books folder in Dropbox, which automatically sends your uploaded books to your Kindle.
  • Automatically publish your WordPress blog posts from Dropbox.
  • Automatically unshare shared Dropbox folders.
  • Backup your WhatsApp pictures to Dropbox.

Today, I want to expand on this list further. Below you’ll be introduced to a number of different apps that you can easily connect with your Dropbox account. Once connected, you can start automating your tasks one by one.

Dropbox Automator

Dropbox Automator is a tool that can automate specific actions for files that you place in specific folders. The free version allows you to automate a limited number of tasks for no charge, but there are affordable premium upgrades if you need them.

The first step is to choose which Dropbox folder you want to assign an automation task to. Then choose the task you want to apply to this folder. Once this is done, every time the correct file type is detected in that folder, the task will be triggered automatically.


The 3-minute video below shows you how to get started.

After you’ve set these tasks up in Dropbox Automator, just a sample of what you’ll be able to automate includes:

Convert Documents to PDF

Upload a document (Word, Plain Text, ODF etc.) to a chosen Dropbox folder. A PDF version will be created automatically, and stored in a new folder called Processed.

Upload Files to Slideshare

Instead of uploading a document, such as a presentation, directly to Slideshare, add it to a specific Dropbox folder, and it’ll upload to your Slideshare account automatically.


Translate Files

If you have a file you want to translate into another language, Dropbox Automator uses Bing Translator to do this for you. The results won’t be perfect, but they’ll be workable, and they’ll be quick.

Resize, Edit, & Upload Images

Any image that’s uploaded to a specified Dropbox folder, can be resized to dimensions of your choosing, then uploaded directly to Facebook, Flickr, or Google Drive. You can even manipulate the images in a variety of ways (see the full list below). You can add watermarks (stamps/logos), convert to black and white, write text on an image, convert file types, and rotate images.

Automate Your Dropbox

Send Documents to Other Services

Files added to any folder can automatically be uploaded to other services including SkyDrive, Sugarsync, Evernote, and Basecamp. They can also be converted to .zip, uploaded via FTP, or emailed to a specific email address.



IFTTT (If This Then That) is a powerful application that essentially connects “anything to anything IFTTT Now Connects to Anything: Introducing the Maker Channel The potential uses for IFTTT are endless. But until now, it's been difficult to interface it with your own hardware projects. Today, that's all changed. Read More “. Its automation “recipes” can be used to save you money IFTTT Recipes That Help You Save Money IFTTT can be used to do nearly anything, and saving money is no exception. Here are some of the best recipes to help you live more frugally. Read More , automate Microsoft Office tasks How to Automate Microsoft Office Tasks with IFTTT Recipes IFTTT, the automation service that will complete an action once another condition is met, now has 50 task recipes for Microsoft Office. We show you how it works and offer a selection of recipes. Read More , automate your home Clever IFTTT Smart Home Integrations For Your Life The future of the smart home is now. And thanks to online websites like IFTTT, creating a smart home is easy and more impressive than ever. Read More , and (of course), manage your Dropbox account.

IFTTT Dropbox Recipes

After you’ve created an IFTTT account, and connected this to your Dropbox account, you’ll be able to connect other accounts which can then work together with Dropbox to automate a number of tasks.

Save Photos to Dropbox

With IFTTT you can choose to automatically save certain photos to a Dropbox folder. These could be photos you’re tagged in on Facebook, photos you like on Instagram, photos you upload to Instagram, or photos you take on your phone.

Save Receipts to Dropbox

IFTTT can search your Gmail inbox for new messages that contain terms such as Receipt or Order Confirmation. Any emails that contain these terms will be saved in a specific Dropbox folder.

Convert Documents to Kindle Format

Save file types that would not usually be read correctly by your Kindle (doc, PDF, etc.) to a public Dropbox folder called “convert2kindle”. The file will be converted to Kindle’s .azw ebook format, and sent to your device. Be sure to delete the file from Dropbox once it’s arrived on your Kindle, or it will be sent multiple times.

Save Files to Evernote

If you want to easily save files to both Dropbox and Evernote, IFTTT has a recipe for that.

Evernote App

Just upload the files to a designated Dropbox folder, and they’ll be added to your Evernote account automatically.

Download YouTube Videos

If you mark a video as to “Watch Later” on YouTube, you can now have this downloaded automatically and saved to your Dropbox account so you can watch it offline.

Save Articles to Read Later

Mark Feedly articles as “Save For Later”, and these will be converted to PDF and downloaded to your Dropbox account.

Keep Track of Your Favorite Music

Connect IFTTT with your Spotify account, and every time you like a song, its details will be added to a text file in Dropbox.


Zapier is a similar service to IFTTT, only it allows you to more easily create complex actions called “Multi-Zaps”. If you learn how to use these multi-zaps Create Awesome Life Automations with Multi-Step Zaps Zapier, the single largest competitor to IFTTT, announced that it now offers users the ability to create multiple action automations called multi-step zaps. Read More properly, you could open up a whole new world of automation. For this article though, we’ll keep things simple.

Zapier and Dropbox

Many of the tasks that IFTTT can perform, Zapier can perform too, along with a few others worth mentioning.

Evernote Notes to Dropbox

With this Zap, you can back up each of your new Evernote notes to Dropbox as text files. You can choose whether Zapier backs up notes from all of your notebooks, or just one.

Save Your SoundCloud Favorites

Once you’ve set up this zap, each time you favorite a SoundCloud track, it’ll be downloaded and saved to your Dropbox account. This will only work for songs with the right permissions.

New OneNote Notes

If you spend a lot of time in Microsoft’s note-taking app, OneNote, this Zap could prove useful. Each time you upload a file to a folder in Dropbox, a new note will be created in OneNote so you can dig into your work straight away.

Save Your Pinterest Pins

Having all of your saved content and images in different places can be a hassle. With this Zap, each of your pins on Pinterest will be saved to a Dropbox folder along with its accompanying image and link.

Other Automation Services

Dropbox Automator, IFTTT, and Zapier offer the most varied automation options for Dropbox. A lot of the tasks you’d want to automate can be automated with these services.

But there are a few other stand-alone automation service for Dropbox that are worth mentioning.


Encrypt Your Files

CloudFogger encrypts your files on your local drive before they are uploaded to Dropbox to ensure they’re kept secure. All uploaded files will then be protected with 256bit AES encryption.

Migrate & Backup Your Files

If you want to migrate all your files on one cloud system to another (including Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Google Drive, and more), Mover makes this easy. You may want to do this so you have a backup of your files, or simply so you can start using another storage provider.

Convert Anything to Anything

CloudConvert allows you to upload one file format, and convert it to pretty much any other compatible format. You can then download the file directly, or have the file download directly to your Dropbox account when the conversion is complete.

Save Screenshots

Dropbox Screen Grabber (Windows only) is a lightweight application that allows you to take screenshots of your entire screen, or section of your screen. These screenshots are then saved directly to a specified Dropbox folder. This is a wonderful tool for collaborative screensharing.

Organize Your Files

If your Dropbox account is in a constant state of chaos, start using SortMyBox. This is an application that allows you to apply filters to your Dropbox account (like you do with email accounts). You then upload any new files to a specified SortMyBox folder in your account. Based on the filters you’ve set up, those files will then be moved to the right location automatically.

What’s Left to Automate?

As you can see, there’s a huge range of task automation options available to Dropbox users. By spending a little time setting up these automated tasks 4 Boring Tasks You Can Automate With the Windows Task Scheduler Your time is too valuable to be wasted with repetitive tasks. Let us show you how to automate and schedule tasks. We have a few great examples, too. Read More , you could save more time than you think.


Instead of sorting your files every few weeks, they could be sorted automatically. Instead of manually uploading photos, videos, and blog posts, this can be set-it-and-forget-it. Instead of downloading entire web pages How to Download an Entire Website for Offline Reading Here's how you can download entire websites for offline reading so you have access even when you don't have Wi-Fi or 4G. Read More  and individual blog posts, this can be done for you in the background.

Although you probably won’t need most of the tasks above automated, try these workarounds for those chores you are tired of.

What other tasks have you managed to automate with Dropbox? Has Dropbox automation made you more productive at home or at the office?

Image Credits: leisure by Syda Productions via Shutterstock, Dropbox by Ian Lamont (Flickr), Evernote Meetup Paris by Heisenberg Media (Flickr), What’s Dropbox 1 by (Flickr), Reading by Vladimir Pustovit (Flickr)

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Computer Automation, Dropbox, IFTTT, Zapier.

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  1. Mark Davies
    June 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Good article!