5 Tricks to Using Gmail With Dropbox

When people use technology, they’ve come to expect that different items should work together. No one wants to have to spend time switching back and forth between two pieces of tech hardware or two apps to complete a task. It’s far better if the two items sync up, creating a more efficient workstream.

An app that many people use on a daily basis, Google’s Gmail, is one of those tech items that all of us would like to see work with multiple other types of tech. Fortunately, for Dropbox subscribers, Dropbox is one of the items that has close integration with Gmail built into it.

We’ll help you figure out how to make your Gmail and Dropbox apps work together seamlessly by using the Gmail Dropbox extension.

Best Extensions for Using Dropbox With Gmail

Perhaps you’ve used a Dropbox extension with other apps and software packages, such as Slack, Trello, Salesforce, or Microsoft Outlook, so you have some idea as to how valuable these extensions can be.

When it comes to working with Gmail, there are two extensions or add-ons for Gmail related to Dropbox that allow the two apps to integrate.

Using the Dropbox for Gmail Chrome Extension

You can download the Dropbox for Gmail Extension from the Chrome Web store, adding it to your version of Google Chrome. It is a free download.

Once you have it downloaded and installed, it is easy to add your Dropbox files to a Gmail message. After composing a message, click the Dropbox icon near the bottom of the compose window. Select the Dropbox file to attach, click Insert Link, and continue composing your message in Gmail. When you send it, the file will appear as an attachment to the message.

However, even though it looks like an attachment, this extension does not attach an actual copy of the file to the email message. Instead, it attaches a sharable link to the file from your Dropbox account. Once the recipient clicks on the link, he or she will download the file from your Dropbox account cloud. This saves time on your end, as you won’t have to wait for Gmail to upload the entire file as an attachment before you can send your message.

Using this Gmail Dropbox extension simply makes attaching and viewing files that you’re sending through Gmail messages far easier than using traditional attachments under Gmail messages. Some of the advantages of using this official Dropbox extension for your version of Gmail include the following.

Sending Large Files

You won’t have to worry about large attachment files occupying space in your Gmail Inbox or counting toward your Google account storage limit when you use the Gmail for Dropbox extension.

Additionally, if your Internet connection is not as fast or reliable as it should be, you won’t have to wait for your large files to upload into your Gmail message when you use the Gmail Dropbox extension. Just add the link to the Dropbox file through the extension, and you will be ready to send the message with the link to the file immediately.

Rather than worrying about any file size limit you may have with your Gmail account, you’ll only need to pay attention to the file size limitations that you have with the tier of Dropbox to which you have a subscription.

Not Limited to Other Dropbox Users

The person to whom you’re sending your Dropbox files through Gmail does not have to have a Dropbox subscription to download and view the files. This is an especially helpful feature, as it could be problematic to force the users who are receiving your Gmail messages to sign up for Dropbox to be able to see the files.

Eliminate the Need for File Compression

When sending large files as attachments through Gmail or other email clients, you may have to use compression software, such as through creating ZIP files, to yield a file size that is small enough to work with the email client.

When you use the Gmail for Dropbox extension, however, you no longer have to apply compression, as the extension can handle large sized files natively.

Preview Files

From within the Gmail message window, you are able to preview the Dropbox files you have received without having to actually open them, which can be a nice time saving feature, especially if you have received multiple files, but you only need to open one of them right now.

Dropbox for Gmail Add-on

Another option to integrate Gmail and Dropbox is to use the add-on for your Gmail account. This add-on works especially well when you are using a Gmail mobile app, or when you’re trying to use Gmail through a web browser other than Google Chrome, such as Firefox or Safari. This add-on gives you many of the same features as the Chrome extension (without the need to use Chrome).

To activate this add-on, open Gmail. Click on the plus sign icon near the right side. From the popup window, pick Dropbox for Gmail, followed by Install. Enter the requested information, including logging in to your Dropbox account, if prompted.

Once it’s installed, you can begin using it immediately. Start by composing a message. Then click on the Dropbox icon near the bottom of the window and select the file you want to share. Click Insert Link, and the file will show up as an attachment, even though it is a link only.

5 Dropbox Tricks for Gmail Users

Here are a few tips you can use to make the most of integrating Dropbox with your Gmail account.

1. Save Attachments Directly to Dropbox Automatically

When you have the Gmail for Dropbox extension installed, you can save any attachments you receive in a Gmail message directly to your Dropbox account in the cloud, rather than saving them to your hard drive.

This gives you a backup copy of the attached file in the cloud, rather than only having a copy stored on your local hard drive. Or, if your hard drive is nearly full, moving the file to your Dropbox account will conserve space on your local hard drive.

Just click on the file attachment that you want to save directly to Dropbox. You should see a series of boxes listed along the bottom of the attachment window, including Google Drive and Dropbox. Click on the Dropbox box, and you’ll see a popup window that allows you to save the file directly to any folder you choose in your cloud account.

2. Create Your Dropbox Account Along the Way

If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, you can still download the Gmail Dropbox Chrome extension. The first time you attempt to use it, you will have an option to sign in to your Dropbox account or an option to create a new Dropbox account.

When signing up, you even will have the option of using your Google sign in information to also sign in to your Dropbox account, which can speed up the integration of Dropbox and Gmail further.

3. Quickly Finding a File to Attach

When you have the Chrome extension for Gmail Dropbox integration installed, you will have a couple of ways to attach links for your files from Dropbox into your Gmail message.


When you click the Dropbox icon inside the compose window for Gmail, you’ll see a popup window that shows the folders and files you have stored in your Dropbox cloud account. Click through the collection of folders to find the file that you want to attach.

Search Bar

If your Dropbox cloud storage account is not well-organized, making it difficult to find the exact file or folder that you want, the Gmail for Dropbox extension has another option for you.

At the top of the popup window (above the files and folders), you’ll see a Search text box. Type some of the letters in the name of the file that you want to attach in this box, and Dropbox will limit the number of files and folders it is displaying, only matching your search criteria, hopefully making it easier for you to find the file you want.

4. Search for Files

The extension has a couple of tools that allow you to find Dropbox attachment files that you have received in Gmail in older messages. Use the Recent Files tab to look through files that you’ve opened recently. You also have the option of using the Search box within the extension to look for a file that may be too old to fit under the Recent Files tab.

5. Fix Buggy Installs

If you’re having trouble making the Chrome extension work in Gmail for Dropbox, you can remove the extension. Sometimes, removing it and reinstalling it will make it work properly. Other times, you may have to try a few other troubleshooting tricks.

Removing the Extension

To remove the extension, open a Chrome browser window and click on the three vertically stacked dots at the top right corner of the window. Click on More Tools, followed by Extensions.

Scroll through the list to find the extension for Dropbox. Then click the trash can icon to the right of the Dropbox extension and/or click Remove for the Dropbox extension, and Google will disable the extension.

You then can reinstall it from the Chrome store, if desired.

Resetting Chrome

Sometimes, resetting the Chrome web browser or resetting Gmail will reset the Dropbox for Gmail extension, giving you access to the files and making it work properly again.

Try reloading your Gmail window within Chrome. If you still cannot add files from Dropbox, try closing all of your Chrome windows and opening Chrome again.

Allowing Cookies

You must enable cookies in Chrome to allow the Gmail Dropbox extension to work. If the extension is not working, it is possible that you have disabled cookies at some time in the past, perhaps without realizing it.

Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the Chrome window, followed by Settings. Then click Privacy and Security in the left side of the window. In the main part of the window, click Cookies and Other Site Data. Then select the way you would like to manage cookies through the Gmail Dropbox extension.

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Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira