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How to Sync Specific Folders With Dropbox

Would you like to sync specific folders with Dropbox instead of automatically syncing all of your folders to all of your computers?  Here’s how using Selective Sync available in the latest Beta version of Dropbox.

Dropbox is a great tool for keeping your important files synced between your computers, and we have covered many interesting things you can do with your Dropbox account.  But until now, there was no way to only sync certain folders with each computer; it was all or nothing. 

This could be frustrating if you wanted to store large files from one computer but didn’t want them on a computer with a smaller hard drive.  The latest Beta version of Dropbox allows you to selectively choose which folders to sync between computers.

Please Note: This feature is currently only available in the 0.8 beta version of Dropbox.

Setup the new Beta

Download the new beta version of Dropbox 0.8 (link below); choose the correct download for your system.  Run the installer as normal.

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It only took a couple seconds to install, though it made the taskbar disappear briefly at the end of the installation on our tests.  Strangely, the installer doesn’t let you know it’s finished installing; if you already had a previous version of Dropbox installed, it will simply start working from your system tray as before.  If this is a new installation of Dropbox, you will be asked to enter your Dropbox account info or create a new account.

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Selectively Sync Folders

By default, Dropbox will still sync all of your Dropbox folders to all of your computers.  Once this beta is installed, you can choose individual folders or subfolders you don’t want to sync.  Right-click the Dropbox icon in your system tray and select Preferences.

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Click the Advanced tab on the top, and then click the new Selective Sync button.

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Now uncheck any folders you don’t want to sync to this computer.  These folders will still exist on your other machines and in the Dropbox web interface, but they will not be downloaded to this computer.

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The default view only shows your top-level folders in your Dropbox account.  If you wish to sync certain folders but exclude their subfolders, click the Switch to Advanced View button.

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Expand any folder and uncheck any subfolders you don’t want to sync.  Notice that the parent folder’s check box is filled now, showing that it is partially synced.

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Click OK when you’ve made the changes you want.  Dropbox will then make sure you know these folders will stop syncing to this computer; click OK again if you’re sure you don’t want to sync these folders.

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Dropbox will cleanup your folder and remove the files and folders you don’t want synced.

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Next time you open your Dropbox folder, you’ll notice that the folders we unchecked are no longer in this computer’s Dropbox folder.  They are still in our Dropbox online account, and on any other computers we’re syncing with.

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If you add a new folder with the same name as a folder you stopped syncing, you’ll notice a grey minus icon over the folder.  This folder will not sync with your other computers or your online Dropbox account.

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If you want to add these folders back to this computer’s Dropbox, just repeat the steps, this time checking the folders you want to sync.  If you have any folders that were not syncing before, their names will have (Selective Sync Conflict) added to the end, and will sync with all of your computers.

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Conclusion

We’re excited that we can now choose exactly which folders we want synced on each computer.  Since everything is still synced with the online Dropbox, we can still access any of the folders from anywhere.  This makes your Dropbox much more versatile, and can help you keep the folders synced exactly the way you want.

Links

Download the new Dropbox 0.8.64 beta

Signup for Dropbox

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 06/1/10

Comments (5)

  1. rzlmlchm09

    Dropbox is awesome! As long as I have an internet connection, I no longer need to worry about trying to carry around a USB flash drive with all of my necessary files on it.

  2. fdbryant3

    Can someone explain to me why Dropbox is preferred over Live Mesh. They seem to do the same thing except Live Mesh gives you 5GB (and rumor has it that MS is going to connect it the 25GB Skydrive with the next iteration) and allows you to sync computers without using the 3rd party servers.

  3. Matthew Guay

    @fdbryant3 – I think many users were not confident about using Mesh since its future has seemed uncertain (with it in perpetual beta). But, Microsoft is supposed to be merging Mesh, Skydrive, and Live Sync with the Windows Live Wave 4 release this summer, and that should make it a lot more interesting (and viable). Expect to see lots of coverage from us when it comes out!

  4. Doctor Mick

    I used to use Live Mesh until I realised it was selective about which files it would upload. It wouldn’t even sync Microsoft Money files.

    Now I use Dropbox.

  5. angelo

    @Doctor Mick: how exactly do you sync microsoft money files? is there a file similar to Outlook pst file?

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