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Dropbox File Sharing Made Easy

Most users of Dropbox know about its main capability, that is, a file-sharing application that allows you to transfer files over the Internet. 

However, many are unaware of its additional benefits. This includes controlling who can access your data and the ability to work with various platforms. Dropbox can also integrate with other tools like Slack or Google Suite so that your work teams can collaborate even easier. 

The basics of Dropbox file sharing

Let’s say that you work as a marketing manager who needs to share your marketing presentations through Dropbox. To start sharing your files on Dropbox, you should first consider reviewing principles, roles, and privileges, including what files you control as the owner. 

As the owner of your marketing presentations, you can change ownership from yourself to another team member, or view, modify and share your files while remaining an owner. So, you don’t need to simply copy files from Dropbox, you actually need to share them.

When sharing files, you control the amount of access someone is granted to your document. These users can be either a Viewer or an Editor.

You can share individual files such as a marketing presentation or an entire folder of files. All this can be done from your web client, mobile, or desktop application.

Perhaps, rather than share entire files, you only need to share specific contents of an Excel spreadsheet or a CSV file. Either may be easily imported into, for example, a Google Sheets file for reporting purposes.

We’ll discuss such Dropbox file sharing in a later chapter.

How to share a Dropbox file with someone

When you share files in Dropbox, you may notice certain norms that apply regardless of the type of platform you use — web, desktop, or mobile. These rules stay consistent throughout the file-sharing process.

These rules include:

  • Setting permissions

Before you share your file, you can set the level of access (can view or can edit) that an individual or group may have. This access will determine the read-only or read and write permissions allowed on each file and by whom. 

  • Sharing via email or link

You can choose to share your files via email addresses or via link. The latter is an excellent option if you do not know the contact information of the person you would like to share the file with. 

Both approaches are also beneficial if the person or group does not have a Dropbox account. However, if someone doesn’t have one, they will only be able to view the shared file.

How to share a file with someone on Dropbox

  • In Dropbox, go to the file you want to share and click on the Share icon.
1.1.How to share a file with someone on Dropbox

Note: Alternatively, you can click More (three dots) => Share => Share with Dropbox.

1.2.How to share a file with someone on Dropbox
  • Insert an email address of a Dropbox user you want to share the file with, then click Share file.
1.3.How to share a file with someone on Dropbox

That’s it from your side. Meanwhile, the recipient user will receive a respective notification to their email address and the file will be available in their Shared folder. 

1.4.How to share a file with someone on Dropbox

Note: If you enter an email address of a user who does not have a Dropbox account, they will also receive a notification. However, to see the file, they will have to sign up to Dropbox. 

1.5.How to share a file with someone on Dropbox

How to share a Dropbox file with someone who doesn’t have Dropbox

  • In Dropbox, go to the file you want to share and click on the Copy link icon.
2.1.How to share a Dropbox file with someone not on Dropbox
  • Share this link with stakeholders – they won’t be able to make edits, but only view the contents or download the file. If they want to collaborate with you on this file, they’ll need to sign up for Dropbox.

Dropbox file sharing permissions

When sharing files on Dropbox, you can provide specific permissions to the person you are sharing the files with. These permissions determine how the users can interact with the files. Those who have access to a file can have three types of roles. These include the following:

  • Owner: This is the person who normally creates the file. They can also assign ownership to another person. Only one person can own a file at one point in time.
  • Editor: They can share and make changes to the shared file. These modifications include updating the file or deleting it.
  • Viewer: They can only view the file and leave comments for review. They are not allowed to make modifications or share files.

Here’s a more detailed comparison of the roles:

OwnerEditorViewer
File Actions
Share files
View contents of files
Edit files
Add comments
Change ownership

If you wish, you can give different levels of permission to different users. For example, you could give editing privileges to specific individual members while restricting everyone else to simply viewing a file and leaving comments.

How to share Dropbox files

The process of sharing files differs depending on whether you use a web client, desktop, or mobile application.

Share a Dropbox file on the web client

In Dropbox, go to the file you want to share.

  • Click on the Share icon that is displayed.
  • Otherwise, you can click on the three dots (…) for more file-sharing options. Go to Share and then click on Share with Dropbox.
  • In the pop-up box that appears, you can share by typing the recipient or group email address.
  • Write a message if you like.
  • Finally, click on the Share file button.

The recipient will receive an email notification when you share the file. This file is located under the Shared tab of the Dropbox menu. 

You can also click on the Copy link option to share your file by pasting the link in an email or chat window of another platform.

Share a Dropbox file in the desktop app

In Dropbox, navigate and right-click on the file you would like to share.

  • Click on Share or Copy Dropbox Link.
  • In the pop-up box that appears, you can share by typing the recipient or group email address, name, or other contact information.
  • Write a message if you like.
  • Click on Share.
  • You can also share by selecting Copy link.

Share a Dropbox file in the mobile app

  • In Dropbox, navigate to the file you want to share and click on the three horizontal dots on Android or select the file directly on iPhone/iPad.
  • Click on Share
  • Send the invite to the person with whom you want to share the file by typing in their email address or other contact information.
  • Set if your recipient Can view or Can edit the file from the dropdown menu.    
  • Leave a message if you would like.
  • Click on Share.

Share specific data from your Dropbox files

The above are native instances of sending files with Dropbox that allow you to collaborate between work teams and share documents, photos, or any other type of files. However, let’s say you don’t need to share an entire file but, instead, need to share only certain information within a file.

This could be beneficial if you’re working with a public dataset that you’ve added to your Dropbox and want to use in your Excel calculations. Or perhaps an SEO vendor that you hired shares a weekly update via a shared Dropbox file. Once they do, you want to pull that data into your Google Sheets dashboard and blend it with the other sources.

Manually copying/pasting such data is inefficient because it creates redundant mundane workflows and introduces the risk of human error. Automating such data imports is far better, especially if the source data is updated frequently.

A popular choice for such automatic data transfers is Coupler.io. It’s a tool you can use to import .csv and Excel (.xlsx) files from Dropbox to Google Sheets or from Dropbox to Excel if you prefer. BigQuery is available as a third possible destination. 

9 dropbox excel source and destination

Learn how to export Dropbox to Google Drive from our guide.

Dropbox file sharing limit

Dropbox Transfer allows you to easily share large files with other Dropbox users or even with people that don’t have a Dropbox account. Files can be large design projects, videos, photos, or anything else.

Depending on your Dropbox plan, you can use Dropbox Transfer to send individual files with a size limit per file of 2GB for Plus, Family, and Standard plans. Advanced and Professional plans allow you to share a file up to 100GB in size. 

PlanTransfer Limit
Plus2 GB
Family2 GB
Standard2 GB
Advanced100 GB
Professional100 GB

However, there are no set limits on the number of files you can share every month or their total size.

The Creative Tools add-on allows anyone to share individual files of up to 250GB in size and collaborate interactively over the cloud. It also enabled you to track status updates, comment on video frames, view file contents without downloading and convert large files into smaller ones.

Dropbox file sharing problems

Sometimes you may encounter issues using your Dropbox platform when you wish to share files with team members or external parties. Here are some of the main problems that may occur and how to resolve them:

Sharing was unsuccessful

Reasons:

  • You tried to share files with someone with whom you cannot share – most commonly with a member of a business team on Dropbox. As such, it does not allow them to get invitations from external members. This may be in place for several reasons, including spam control and security. 
  • The settings on your Dropbox Business team account do not allow you to share with members outside your team. This can be because the privacy of your company’s business documents or contracts may be jeopardized if they are shared with any third parties. Therefore, this measure prevents sharing a file with someone who is not meant to see its contents.

Fixing these problems: Your administrator will have to be contacted to adjust Dropbox Business Team settings, including the revision of third-party members. Settings may be changed if there is no risk to the security of your files.

You don’t have permission to perform this action

Reasons:

  • You have view-only access to files. This access level does not allow you or Dropbox members to share files with other individuals as a security mechanism. You are only able to view and comment.
  • You don’t have permission as an editor to share files. If you are not allowed to share files as an editor, this means that the owner of the file has set up restrictions preventing an editor from completing this action. This may be due to security concerns.

Fixing these problems: Contact the owner of the file to change file settings for permissions. This may be because of security reasons and the owner will have to modify these settings. 

File specified was not found

Reason:

  • The file you were looking to share was removed from Dropbox by yourself or a member, intentionally or in error.

Fixing these problems: Dropbox allows you to restore deleted files to your Dropbox account if you had editor access to such files. You can contact the owner of the file to do a file restore if you only had Can view access.

Dropbox file sharing security

There are numerous ways in which Dropbox guarantees your file security:

  • Two-factor authentication: You can enable two-factor authentication in the settings tab of your Dropbox account. When you enable 2FA, your account is authenticated by your password, and then a six-digit code is sent to your mobile device. This helps to ensure that only you have access to your files.
  • Secure Transport: Dropbox implements Transport Layer Security. This means that transferring files over the Internet is done securely between applications.
  • The 256-bit Advanced encryption standard is met for files that are stored on the Dropbox platform.
  • Only persons with the link to your files can view its contents as well as those that have been shared access individually.

Dropbox file sharing takeaway 

Sharing with Dropbox is made simple in many ways. You can control who gets access to edit and view your files, transfer files to members within your work team simultaneously, and easily troubleshoot some basic sharing problems on your Dropbox platform. 

Also, when you need to share data from Excel or .csv files, Coupler.io can come in handy. Using it, you can export Dropbox data to Google Drive or OneDrive and easily automate what used to be a mundane manual activity.

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