The Fastest Way to Share a Dropbox Link

Dropbox makes your life easier. Sure, it won’t vacuum the house or do your meal prep for the week. But, it certainly makes sharing files a lot quicker and easier.

The process of dragging files over to email and trying to attach them can be a pain. How many times have your emails failed to send because of issues with an attachment or because your attachment is over the size limit? *Facepalm*

With Dropbox, you can simply create a shared link for your colleagues, clients, or friends and family. It’ll take them directly to a file or folder in your cloud. And, even better, you can send this link via text, Facebook Messenger, Slack or any messaging service you choose.

So, without further ado, here’s your guide to creating and sending shared links in Dropbox:

How to Create a Dropbox Link

You can share a Dropbox file or folder with anybody, even if the recipient doesn’t have a Dropbox account. All you need to do is create a shared link. Anybody you send this link to can view the file or folder and download its contents.

Here’s how to create a Dropbox link using any version of Dropbox:

Create a Link in the Dropbox Browser

Step 1. Sign in and go to All files.

Step 2. Hover over the file and a Share button will appear.

Step 3. Click Share and a dialog box will appear. You have the option to share the file via email or share a link instead. Click Create link.

Create a Link in the Dropbox Desktop App

Step 1. Click the Dropbox icon on your desktop’s menu bar or system tray.

Step 2. Navigate to All files.

Step 3. Hover over the file or folder, then click the three dots that appear.

Step 4. Click Share…

Step 5. Click Create a link.

Create a Link in the Dropbox Mobile App

Step 1. Go to the menu and tap Files.

Step 2. Tap the three dots next to the file you want to share.

Step 3. Tap Share.

Step 4. Tap Create a link.

How to Send a Dropbox Link

Once you’ve created a link for your Dropbox file or folder, sending that link is extremely simple. If you’ve created the link using the desktop app or browser version of Dropbox, all you need to do is click Copy link:

Then paste the link into an email or whatever messaging app you use to communicate with the recipient.

If you’re using the mobile app, when you tap Create a link, Dropbox will ask you how you want to send the link. Here’s an example from an Android phone:

There are tons of options including WhatsApp, email and social media apps. The Dropbox app will automatically paste the link into the app or messaging service you choose. It’s that simple.

Are These Dropbox Links Secure?

Sharing Dropbox links is secure. The recipient of a link can only access precisely what you share with them and no other areas of your Dropbox folder or account.

However, it is worth noting that anyone with access to your shared link can view and download the file or folder in question. This could be an issue if, say, one of your team members accidentally, or even purposely, shares a Dropbox link with somebody who should not be privy to your files.

Yet, Dropbox offers stringent controls over shared links. Thus, you don’t need to worry about any Tom, Dick or Harry viewing your files as long as you put the right measures in place.

Here’s what you can do to secure your Dropbox links:

1. Delete a Shared Link

Every Dropbox member, including Basic users, can delete a shared link if they own the file. When you deactivate the link, those you’ve shared it with previously will still have access to a copy of the file or folder if they downloaded it. But, the link will no longer work, meaning the file can’t be accessed or shared any further using that link.

To delete a shared link:

Step 1. Select Shared from the sidebar.

Step 2. Select the Links tab.

Step 3. Click the three dots next to the file in question.

Step 4. Click Delete link and confirm in the dialog box that pops up.

The shared link will no longer work from this point.

2. Give Shared Links an Expiration Date

It’s a good idea to delete shared links when others don’t need to access the files anymore. It’s just a logical thing – as long as a link is live, there’s a chance of it being compromised.

If you set an expiration date for a shared link you won’t need to worry about remembering to delete shared links because Dropbox will do it for you automatically.

Dropbox Pro and Business users can create, modify, extend and remove expiration dates on shared links. Here’s how:

Step 1. Go to All files, hover over the file and click Share.

Step 2. Select Link Settings.

Step 3. Where it says Expiration, toggle the switch to On.

Step 4. Set an expiration date and click Save.

The shared link will now have an expiration date. However, other users will not be able to see the expiration date, so you’ll need to inform them as you see fit. To modify or extend an expiration date, follow the same steps as above.

3. Password-Protect Your Shared Links

Dropbox Professional and Business users can also create passwords for shared links. This is a simple and effective way to add an extra layer of security to your shared links.

How do you do it?

Step 1. In All files, hover over the file in question and click Share.

Step 2. Click Link settings.

Step 3. Click the dropdown menu next to Link access.

Step 4. Select Only people with the password.

Step 5. Set a password for this file and click Save.

From now on, whenever somebody clicks the link they’ll have to enter the password to view the file. Be sure to use unique, strong passwords for each shared link.

4. Share a Link with Your Team Only

If you have a Dropbox Business account, you can limit access to shared links to team members only. This will prevent people outside of your team or company from viewing your files. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1. In All files, hover over the file and click the Share button.

Step 2. Click on Link Settings.

Step 3. Next to Link access, click the dropdown menu.

Step 4. Select Team members and then click Save.

All in All, your Dropbox links will be as secure as you make them. If you’re dealing with sensitive files, be sure to put one or more of these measures in place.

Why Is My Dropbox Link Not Working?

What can you do if the link you create doesn’t work? Or if a 404 error pops up every time somebody tries to click on it?

Don’t stress. There may be a simple solution. Here are some common issues that you can troubleshoot:

There’s an Issue With Your Browser

The problem with your shared link might be related to your browser rather than Dropbox. The first step towards solving this problem is to try the same shared link in a different browser or on another device. If the link works on another browser then there’s likely an issue with the other browser.

There are many ways to troubleshoot browser issues. For example, you might need to update your browser or clear your cache.

The File Was Deleted

If a file was deleted, the shared link will no longer work. You’ll need to restore the file to reactivate the shared link.

It’s possible to restore deleted files on Dropbox for up to 30 days for Basic users and up to 180 days for Business users. The simplest way to do this is to go to the Deleted files section in your account.

Click on the file you need to restore and then click Restore in the dialog box that pops up.

The Link Expired

If you or the owner of the file set an expiration date on the shared link, nobody will be able to use that shared link once the time period is up. You can’t restore a shared link, so you’ll have to create a new shared link for the file using the method above.

To prevent this issue from happening in the future, extend the expiration date on a shared link if you or your team need more time.

The Shared Link Was Deleted

If you’re dealing with a shared link from a while ago, there’s a chance that you deleted the shared link in the time since and forgot all about it. If this is the case, all you need to do is create a new shared link for the file using the above steps.

Downloads Were Disabled

It’s possible to disable downloads for a shared link. This feature isn’t included in our tips for making Dropbox links more secure because there are other ways users can save files even if you disable downloads. So, simply disabling downloads may provide a false sense of security.

Nevertheless, this feature is available. So, if you’re unable to download files from a shared link, you should check if downloads have been disabled. Here’s how:

Step 1. Go to Shared files and select the Links tab.

Step 2. Click on the three dots next to the file.

Step 3. Select Link settings.

Step 4. Toggle Disable downloads to Off.

Dropbox Banned the Link

Dropbox may temporarily or permanently ban shared links for a few reasons:

  • If the link is shared with lots of people and therefore generates lots of traffic.
  • If link activity exceeds Dropbox’s bandwidth limits, e.g. if there are a large number of uploads or downloads.
  • If the link violates their Acceptable Use Policy, e.g. it contains copyrighted content or is hosting spam.

To resolve this issue, you can rename and re-upload the file to Dropbox after 24 hours then create a new shared link. You should also make efforts to reduce traffic etc. so that the shared link doesn’t get banned again. Alternatively, you may need to contact Dropbox support to find a solution.

There’s an Issue With a Shared Folder

Is the file you want to access part of a shared folder? The owner of said shared folder may have altered its settings. For instance, they may have limited access to shared links to their team only. If you’re part of another team then you won’t be able to use the shared link to access the file in question. In this case, you’ll need to ask the owner of the shared folder to reconfigure the settings.

You Rewound Your Account

Dropbox Business users can rewind their entire account to a previous date in case of data loss or a security breach for example. If you rewind your account to a time before a shared link was created, the shared link may no longer work properly. The easiest way to resolve this issue is to delete the shared link and create a new one.

If you’ve tried all of these solutions and you’re still having issues with a shared link, see if you can find answers in the Dropbox Community or contact Dropbox’s support team.

Summing Up

Shared links are a quick, simple and convenient way to share files. With Dropbox, you can share files via email or by creating a shared link that you can copy and paste wherever you please.

Thanks to Dropbox’s advanced controls and permission settings you can also ensure that these links are super secure. This is vital if you plan on sharing personal or sensitive information.

Now it’s over to you to start taking advantage of Dropbox links. Why not try creating a link for the next file you want to share to see if it’s more convenient?

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Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira