Dropbox is the go-to service for cloud storage and file syncing, but it’s also one of the more expensive options out there once you’ve used up the free storage allotment. And you can only use multiple accounts on one machine if you spring for the pricier business package. But there are a few options for getting around this.
The Easy Way: Use the Website
The simplest way to access two different Dropbox accounts at once is to use the desktop program for your primary account and sign into a secondary account through your browser (through Incognito Mode, if you want to stay signed into your main account). The Dropbox website will give you access to all the files in a single account, and it includes basic uploading and folder-creating capabilities. Of course, doing it all through the web isn’t as fast or as easy as simply using your operating system’s file explorer, and you lose the convenience of background syncing. But if you only need to use a secondary account only occasionally, it’s probably the easiest way to solve this problem.
The Slightly More Annoying Way: Shared Folders
One of the things that makes Dropbox so useful is its ability to share folders and files between users. If there’s something on a secondary account you need to access all the time, you can simply share the relevant folder with your primary account. Here’s how:
Log in to the Dropbox website on your secondary account, then click “New shared folder.” Use “I’d like to create and share a new folder” or “I’d like to share an existing folder for their respective functions. Select the folder with the contents you want to share, then click “Next.”
Input the email address you used for your primary Dropbox account login, make sure “Can edit” is enabled, then click “Share.” An email will be sent to your primary account’s address, and you simply have to click “go to folder” to activate the connection.
The downside to this approach is that Dropbox doesn’t allow sharing of the root folder—so you’ll have to put everything into a specific folder to share it—and the shared folders take up space on both accounts. So this won’t help you get extra space, but it will help you avoid the hassles of having a personal and a work account, for example.
The Hard Way for Windows: Multiple PC Logins
There have been a few attempts to get around Dropbox’s multiple account restrictions on free users, but on Windows, none are simpler than this. You’ll need administrator privileges on your primary Windows user account. Then, follow these steps:
Create a second Windows user (if you don’t already have one). This is a secondary Windows account with its own password. If you’re creating this login just for this Dropbox hack, I’d recommend making one without a Microsoft email account connection.
Log in to the secondary Windows account without logging out of your primary Windows user account. To do this quickly, just press the Windows button+L, then log in with the secondary account.
From the secondary account, download and install the Dropbox Windows program. Set it up normally and log in with your secondary Dropbox login information (not the same account you’re using on your main Windows username).
Lock the secondary Windows account and switch back to your primary Windows account. Now, open the Windows Explorer program and navigate to the Users folder; by default, this is C:\Users. Double-click on the folder for the new Windows user you just created, then click “Continue” to access its files with your Administrator privileges.
Navigate to the Dropbox folder in the secondary account’s User folder. By default, it’s in C:\Users\[username] (the folder you just opened—it will only change if you moved the user folder during the Dropbox program installation).
Now you can access the files from your secondary Dropbox account in Windows Explorer at any time. As long as you keep your secondary Windows account logged in with the Dropbox program running, it will sync the files with Dropbox’s web server automatically. If you need to access it quickly, just right-click the Dropbox folder, then select Send to>desktop (create shortcut). You might want to name the secondary shortcut with your secondary account name to avoid confusion.
Note that, in order to keep both installations of Dropbox syncing, you’ll need to stay logged into both Windows accounts while you’re using them.
The Hard Way for macOS: Automator
You can use your Mac’s built-in Automator program to create a second instance of the Dropbox program running at the same time as the primary program on macOS. To start, make sure you’ve downloaded and installed Dropbox and set it up with your primary account. Then create a new Dropbox folder in your personal Home folder—for the sake of example, I’ve labelled mine “Dropbox2.”
Open the Automator program (use the Spotlight search icon in the upper right corner if you can’t find it) and click “Workflow,” then “Choose.”
In the “Library” sub-menu, scroll down until you see “Run Shell Script.” Click and drag the Run Shell Script entry into the right side of the window labelled “Drag actions or files here.”
Click inside the shell script text box and delete “cat.” Then replace it with the following script—you can copy and paste from this page. Note that “Dropbox2”, below, is the name of the folder you created in Home in the step above. If you used another name, modify the script accordingly.
HOME=$HOME/Dropbox2 /Applications/Dropbox.app/Contents/MacOS/Dropbox &
Now click “Run.” A new copy of the Dropbox program will appear, allowing you to log in with your secondary account and set it up.
Click File > Save to save the Automator workflow. Name anything you want and place it wherever you like, and simply double-click the script any time you need to sync your secondary Dropbox account. You can even add the script to your login items to get it to start automatically when you turn on your computer.