What is Dropbox and How Do I Use It?

What is Dropbox and How Do I Use It?
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What is Dropbox?

If you transfer files from computer to computer and keep losing those little thumbdrives you might want to look into Dropbox. Dropbox is an online option that lets you share files from your computer between yourself on another machine or with other people. I have been using Dropbox for several months now and I can’t live without it. I no long carry a USB drive with me from home to work. I transfer all of my files via Dropbox.

So what exactly is Dropbox? Dropbox is online storage for your files that is extremely easy to use. You can get a free account starting at 2gb of space that can go up to 3gb of space for free or you can pay for larger accounts.

Transfer, Store, and Share Files

Here’s how it works. You sign up for an account at www.dropbox.com. Once it is set up you download and install the Dropbox software by dragging and dropping the Dropbox file to your Applications folder. Once there open the file and it will walk you through set up.


Once installation is complete there will be a Dropbox logo in your menu bar and a Dropbox folder in the sidebar of your Finder window.

To add files to your Dropbox simply drag them into the Dropbox folder. They will upload to your account automatically and be there ready for you to download. As files upload they will have a spinning blue logo.


When it turns green the file has been successfully uploaded.


The same logo will spin in the Dropbox menu logo.

To access the files in your Dropbox you can do one of two things. You can go to Dropbox.com and login to your account and download files from there. However, the cool part of Dropbox is the second option. Install Dropbox onto a second computer and your files will appear in the Dropbox folder on the second computer instantly (or third computer, or fourth computer, etc.). You can open the files right from that folder or drag and drop them from Dropbox to your computer. If you open right from the folder you can save the file right back to the folder and the changes will be uploaded.

Besides transferring files back and forth from computer to computer you can also use Dropbox to share files with other people. This is accomplished in a couple of ways.

The easiest way is to place files in your Public folder inside the Dropbox. Control click that file and you’ll see a Dropbox submenu. In that menu is an option to copy the public link for that file. Paste that link into an email and when the recipient clicks it the file will download to his/her computer.

The second way to share files is to create a new folder in your Dropbox and share it. Sharing can be accomplished in your Dropbox online account. If you click the dropdown menu of your folder you can choose to share that folder. A form will appear and you enter the address of the person you want to share that folder with (the person will need a Dropbox account). That person will receive an email inviting him/her to share that folder or file. Once accepted the folder or file will appear in his/her Dropbox.

Keep in mind sharing files will also use up space on the other person’s Dropbox- not just the person sharing the file.

I use Dropbox to get movie files of my son from my parents. They have an account and I have an account. I set up a shared folder between both of us and they drag and drop movies from iPhoto to the shared folder. It uploads and appears in my Dropbox. It is easy enough for them to understand, and best of all it is free!

You can even use Dropbox on Windows. You can share files from a Windows machine to a Mac and back again through your Dropbox.

In fact, I am using Dropbox right now as I write this article!