15 tips to make you a Dropbox master

Dropbox homepageHollis Johnson / Business InsiderHow to get the most out of Dropbox, your digital locker in the cloud.

Dropbox has made a name for itself by delivering on a simple promise: nearly instant access to the files you need on any device, as long as you have an internet connection.

Even in 2015, many are still getting used to storing their personal data in the cloud. It’s easy to not think about saving your precious documents and photos in safe place until your computer is stolen or your hard drive breaks. And by then, it’s often too late.

The security of having your files backed up in case of emergency is an obvious plus of using a service like Dropbox. But Dropbox has become much more than a digital locker in the cloud for your documents. It can help you collaborate on projects with co-workers, clean up your photo library on your iPhone, and even help simplify how you do email.

Maximise the free space Dropbox gives you

Every Dropbox account gets 2GB of free space, but there are several things you can do to earn more free storage without paying a monthly subscription.

You can get up to 16GB of free space by inviting friends who haven't signed up for Dropbox yet. Each successful referral gets you 500MB.

To get 3GB of free space, download Dropbox's free photo management app Carousel. If you link your Dropbox account with its email app Mailbox, you'll get an additional 1GB of space.

You can see all of the extra storage you've earned for free under your personal account settings.

Use Selective Sync to control which folders sync across devices

Dropbox has a feature called Selective Sync that lets you manually choose which folders to sync. This can be helpful if you have a particular folder on your desktop you don't want showing up on your smartphone, or vice versa.

The setting is found under 'Account' in the Dropbox Mac menu bar app's preferences. On Windows, Selective Sync is available under the same area of the Dropbox app's settings.

Recover old or deleted files

Now that you've got your documents in the cloud, you want to make sure they don't get accidentally deleted. Luckily, Dropbox keeps a 30-day history of all your changes you make, so you can get your hands on something you mistakenly deleted a couple of weeks ago.

The feature is also good for recovering old versions of files in case you need to see them before you made any changes.

Your Dropbox history is under the 'Events' tab located on the left side of the Dropbox.com homepage.

Sort by file kind, size, and who you've shared with

Click the 'Kind' column in your list of Dropbox items to sort by size, file extension, and shared settings instead. You can also click the 'Modified' column header to sort by ascending or descending file changes.

Right click on files to share, view previous versions, and comment

Right-clicking on an individual file gives you a few options, namely the ability to share it with others through a Dropbox-generated web link, the version history for that file, and the ability to leave a comment.

Leave or stop sharing folders

It's pretty easy to share a folder or join a folder someone sends you through Dropbox, but if you want to leave a folder your account is connected to, you can do so from the 'Sharing' tab in the left list of features on your Dropbox homepage.

There you'll see a list of every folder you've joined, with the option to remove yourself. If you click the settings for a folder you've shared, you can control who can see it and make edits.

Add passwords and expiration dates to your shared links

If you have a Dropbox Pro or Business account, you can make any links you share have a password that's required to view its contents. Business accounts can limit certain links to only be viewed by members of their team.

Paid accounts can also enable expiration dates for shared links, which will make its files inaccessible by anyone that has the link after a certain time.

Let anyone upload stuff to your Dropbox, even if they don't have an account

Thanks to a feature called 'file requests,' someone doesn't have to be on Dropbox to upload files to your account.

This is great if you're someone like a teacher who makes requests for homework from students, or maybe you just need a document from a co-worker. Files can be up to 2GB in size, which makes it a better delivery method than email for larger files.

Create a file request from the associated tab on your Dropbox homepage.

Collaborate with comments

You can comment on shared files with other people and type '@' followed by someone's name or email address to notify them. Anyone accessing the shared file can see and make comments.

The Dropbox app for iPhone and iPad also supports making comments.

Work on Microsoft Office documents

Dropbox has some pretty impressive integration with Microsoft Office. Any Word, PowerPoint, or Excel file stored in Dropbox can be edited directly in your web browser using Office Online.

Click the 'Open' button while previewing any document on the web in Dropbox to start editing, and changes you make will by synced back to your Dropbox.

The same integration is available through Dropbox's mobile apps for Android and iOS. If you need more help with setting up these features, check out Dropbox's FAQ.

Send and save Gmail attachments with Dropbox

If you're a Google Chrome and Gmail user, Dropbox has a handy extension for working with email attachments.

Install the official Dropbox extension for Chrome and you'll see a little Dropbox icon in the compose window of Gmail. It will let you quickly attach any folder or file stored in your Dropbox to the email you're composing. The extension can also save files sent to you.

Share screenshots

Dropbox can automatically upload and create a shared link for any screenshot you take on your computer. Just check the box under the 'Import' section of the app's preferences.

If you'd like to automatically store your iPhone screenshots to Dropbox, set up this IFTT recipe.

Upload photos and save storage on your phone with Carousel

Dropbox's Carousel app is a camera roll replacement for the iPhone that automatically uploads the photos you take and lets you manage them in albums.

One of the coolest things about Carousel is that it will send you a notification when your iPhone is about to run out of storage. It then gives you the option to delete all the photos on your phone that are already stored in Dropbox.

Carousel is also available on Android.

Use Dropbox's email app Mailbox

A couple of years ago, Dropbox bought Mailbox, a hot startup with a well-designed email app for the iPhone.

Since then, Mailbox has continued to get better on the iPhone, added Android support, and released a beta app for the Mac. It's great if you want a simplistic, functional email app that prioritises emails into tasks.

Mailbox has some neat snooze features that let you quickly save an email for a certain time or assign it to a folder for viewing later. The app also integrates tightly with Dropbox for syncing and sending attachments.

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