How to Use Easy File Sharing in Dropbox

Contributing Editor

You’re using Dropbox right? If not, you should — it’s rapidly become one of the most useful applications ever devised. The concept is simple; install the Dropbox application on your PCs, smartphones and tablets and it creates a magic folder which synchronizes all its files across all your devices. As a bonus, it’s useful for backing-up, accessing files online, extracting historical versions, exploiting the API and sharing files with other users. With a free 2GB account, it’s no wonder venture capitalists have invested 48 gazillion dollars in the company.

Unfortunately, Dropbox sharing could lead to complications. The first stumbling block was that users needed to sign-up and install the Dropbox application. That may be easy for you, but try explaining it to more technically-challenged users — like those who are yet to appreciate the differences between files and folders. You then need to ensure users click a sharing link and navigate to the correct place on their file system. Finally, just as you got everything working, someone would delete an essential file which disappeared from everyone’s Dropbox folder (I mention no names — you know who you are!)

Fortunately, the situation’s just become a whole lot easier. You can share a file or folder with anyone just by sending them a link. They don’t require a Dropbox account and they’re even provided with a great online file viewer so it may not be necessary to download files.

Dropbox file sharingEasy sharing should be activated in your Dropbox application (try rebooting or restarting Dropbox if it’s not). Right-click any file in your Dropbox folder and select Get link from the Dropbox menu. The file will be shown in your browser — simply copy the URL and share with whoever needs it.

Dropbox file sharingAlternatively, log on at Dropbox.com, navigate to the file or folder you want to share and click its Get link icon.

To remove sharing, visit the shared URL again, click the cog icon at the top-right of the screen and select Remove link. You can also click Links on the website’s menu to view your shared files and remove any links.

Easy sharing is an amazing new feature which is certain to attract new users to Dropbox. You could even use it as a rudimentary CDN for your website. Let us know if you think of other interesting uses.

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  • http:/www.danstephenson.ca Dan

    I’ve been a Dropbox user for over a year. I’ve always known that to share a file it had to be in your “Public” folder. This is a really nice change, and a feature we can all appreciate.

    Thanks for sharing Craig!

  • http://www.vmtweb.com Joel

    I like Dropbox, it’s easy to use and makes collaborating client files between distant work stations easy. The only thing I’m waiting for is the ability to share a folder that’s within a shared folder. Having a shared folder between web developers in a company, like mine, makes it so everyone has current files. However, sharing one of those sub folders with someone else, like the client, isn’t allowed.

    Dropbox is an excellent product, especially the free version, and I agree with Craig that it’s a must have. Continued updates like this help to make it more user friendly and give more reasons to use it.

  • http://www.insolitonoticias.com Noticias Curiosas

    We like Dropbox, it is easy to use and solves many problems we Backup.

  • @artwitto

    Nice!

    I’ve used Dropbox for about a year ago. Then I discovered SugarSync and I loved it!

    Maybe you should try it too.

  • Chris Emerson

    I used Dropbox. Now I use Google Drive. After a while running both to make sure it suits my needs, I’ll be deleting my Dropbox account altogether.

  • Amy

    Why oh Why doesn’t Dropbox offer more storage? I’d love to use it as a second backup for all my music, etc.

    The ‘Get Link’ is much better, no longer am I sending invitations from a personal email address clients shouldn’t have access to.

  • http://www.dshsolutions.com Debbie Schmidt

    I just tried this and it is awesome! I have a lot of older Vietnam and other Veterans that I’m teaching computer class to and this is perfect. Nothing to install, just web access! Thanks for the heads up!

  • http://weddinginvegas.com Robert

    Well, I tried both the link and the download from that link, by hand and via script. The downloaded file is not readable. And the link gives this response when attempting to read from a script. “The filename https://dl.dropbox.com/s/ … /Las%20Vegas%20HAT%20Report.xls?dl=1 is not readable” I tried every variation that I could think of and got the very same message every time.

    Robert

    PS I was hoping to use the link and not have to actually install Dropbox on Bluehost, because I don’t know how given the flavor of UNIX used is not listed as having the install script. I am not savvy enough to do anything else on my shared hosting account.

  • http://www.wilwebs.com Wil Webs

    I am using Dropbox for a couple of years now. Currently, I am also trying Google Drive, which by the way has become the new home of Google Docs.

    The biggest advantage of Dropbox above SugarSync and even Google Drive, is that it syncs all major operating systems and devices: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iPhone, iPad and Blackberry.

  • http://chruezundquer.ch Christian Zumbrunnen

    For adhoc filesharing I like ge.tt. I use Dropbox as cloud storage or continus sharing with other Dropbox users. And also try Google Drive now and then remove wuala and bitcasa…

  • http://sreenath.net Sreenath H B

    I’ve been using DropBox now for over 5 years but Google Drive will put most of these out of business. I just tested Google Drive today and it’s as seamless as Dropbox, integrates with Google Docs and gives 5GB for free! Sorry Dropbox. You’ve been great but a giant has just trampled on you.

  • http://www.jkb.com.au Jacob Ball

    Dropbox must surely be a *bit* worried about both Google Drive (5GB) and Windows SkyDrive (25GB promo on at the moment). This new sharing option looks great, particularly since I was finding it difficult to share something with a non-techy person just recently.

    I wonder who the winner will be?

  • http://www.poker006.com/ David Bergeron

    I was looking for folder sharing on Dropbox 2 months but it wasn’t possible then. Good feature, makes sharing alot easier! Thanks for posting.

  • David Bryan

    I was hoping to use this “Get Link” feature for the images on my client’s website CMS. Results? 1) Worked OK as the “click to enlarge” link surrounding an image, but 2) did not work as the source of the image itself. Guess I can see why – they need to display the linked image/document in their interface. Sigh…