Sharing Links To Files In Dropbox Outside Of The Public Folder

Sharing Links To Files In Dropbox Outside Of The Public Folder

OK, enough writing about the Paperless Document Organization Guide. It’s time to get geeky again.

Many people think of Dropbox as a way to sync files across your computers and devices, but the service is also a great way to share a file that you can’t or don’t want to send via email.

By the way, this post was 100% inspired by the latest Mac Power Users episode about Dropbox. David and Katie had Eddie Smith from Practically Efficient as a guest, and it is a great show if you want to learn more about using Dropbox (this episode is good for Windows users too).

When you want to share a link to a file in Dropbox with someone, there is the traditional way using the Public folder and a “newer” way using the web interface that you may not be aware of.

Sharing Using The Public Folder

Go into your computer’s Dropbox folder and you will find that there is a folder called Public. This is set up by default by Dropbox and it has special powers.

In Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder, right click on any file in that folder. You’ll see a Dropbox submenu and one of the options will be “Copy Public Link”.

Dropbox Copy Public Link

Choose that and then go into an email or text editor and paste it. You’ll see a special Dropbox-created link directly to that file. Any file in your Public folder already has a link created for that.

Before you go crazy throwing things in your Dropbox Public folder, remember what I just said: any file in your Public folder already has a link created. That means that theoretically, any file you put in there could be downloaded by someone other than your intended recipient (unlikely, but possible).

To mitigate that somewhat, Merlin Mann has a post on the lengths he goes to to securely send stuff in Dropbox.

Sharing Using The Web Interface

To be honest, I was not aware of this method of sharing until listening to the aforementioned MPU podcast. However, when I went to try it out it wasn’t working for me. After some digging, here is what I found out.

Around the time of the Dropbox .80 beta, they released a new feature that they call the “New Sharing Model”. Unfortunately, it turns out that they pulled it from the 1.0 release, so you need to take one step before you do this. (Note: You need to have at least Dropbox 1.0 installed for this to work).

  • In your web browser, go to to enable the new sharing model
  • In the Finder, Windows Explorer, or Dropbox web interface, go to any file that is not in your Public folder
  • Right-click on the file and choose Get Shareable Link

Dropbox Shareable Link

  • You’ll be taken to a special page that has a link to the file to download

Dropbox Link Page

  • If you want to un-link a file (for example, once it has been downloaded), go to the Dropbox web interface, click the Sharing tab at the top, and click on the new Linked Items tab at the left

Drobox Linked Items

From there, you can see which items you have linked and can remove the ones you no longer want to share

There’s two options for sharing files in Dropbox. Do you have any others? Leave a note in the comments.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 7 comments

Roger P - November 4, 2012 Reply

Dropbox web links quit working on my HTC Rezound (Was working before software update)
Dropbox Crash Report on HTC Rezound phone Updated 10/25/12
Report type: Crash
Package name:
Package version: 22000
Package version name: 2.2
Installed by: com.dropbox.vending
Process name:
System app: false
Device: vigor
Build ID: IML74K
Build type: user
Build fingerprint: verizon_wwe/htc_vigor/vigor:4.0.3/IML74K/372320.12:user/release-keys
Model: ADR625LVW
Product: htcvigor
SDK version: 15
Release: 4.0.3
Incremental version: 37230.12
Codename: REL
Board: vigor
Brand: Verizon_wwe
System log: Will add if necessary
Event log: Will add if necessary
Exception class name: android.util.AndroidRuntimeException
Source file:
Source method: startActivity
Line number: 1103
Stack trace: Will add if necessary
Network name: Verizon Wireless
Phone Type: CDMA
Network Type: LTE

Roger P - November 4, 2012 Reply

— Bottom Line — Fault may lay with latest Dropbox application update…
Update to Dropbox web links quit working from a HTC tech reply.
I saw this problem and it peaked my interest so I set up a little test. I took 3 phones and tried to replicate this issue on them. I will write out my results.
Phones in test: Evo LTE, Thunderbolt, and Evo 4g
Operating System Versions: 4.0.4 , 2.3.4, 2.3 (Modified)
Starting out I had trouble getting a .url file to upload to Dropbox. When uploading from Chrome through the web interface it kept cutting off the extension and replacing it with a number. So my GoogleTest.url would become GoogleTe[12]. I then downloaded the Windows Installer for Dropbox and pushed the File to the account this way. I went in on each of the phones Dropbox applications and tested each one only to find out they would all crash. With this happening across multiple devices running Gingerbread and ICS I believe the fault may lay with latest Dropbox application or an Android error in general.
I have sent two error reports to them regarding this issue.

    Brooks Duncan - November 4, 2012 Reply

    Hope they fix it Roger!

DocumentSnap Time Machine | Tips To Learn How To Go Paperless | DocumentSnap Paperless Blog - April 15, 2012 Reply

[…] Introducing the Paperless Document Organization Guide Wow, I didn’t realize that it has been a year since the release of the Paperless Document Organization Guide! Thanks to everyone who has purchased it so far. […]

JoBob - April 14, 2011 Reply

I think this is a BAD idea since it allows every file on your Dropbox to be accessed via a public link. Is there any way to turn this off or undo clicking on the link?

    Brooks Duncan - April 14, 2011 Reply

    Hi JoBob, it doesn't allow every file on your Dropbox to be accessed via a public link. You're right, that would be a bad idea.

    Only the files that you explicitly set to shareable will become accessible via a link, and you can turn those off by going to the Sharing section of the Dropbox web interface.

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