How to Use Dropbox on Your Mac

Introduction: How to Use Dropbox on Your Mac

About: We are a group of college students at the University of Arizona taking a Technical Writing class. One of our class projects has tasked us with creating instructions on a technical process and publishing them...

Interested in using the cloud-saving service Dropbox on your mac? Get started by following these steps!

(Note: we used the operating system OS X Lion when building these steps, so you may experience this process differently if you are using another version of OS X)

Step 1: Signing Up for Dropbox on a Mac

1) Go to

2) Enter your first name on the right side of the webpage.

3) Enter your last name

4) Enter your email

5) Create and enter a password.

6) Check box that says “I agree to Dropbox Terms”.

7) Click “Sign up.”

Step 2: Downloading and Installing Dropbox

1) On again, click “Download Dropbox” on the left side of the webpage.

2) Locate the downloaded file named “Dropbox.dmg”

Note: If you’re using Safari, the downloaded file should appear in Safari’s download folder, which you can access by clicking the download icon in the top right hand corner of the browser window. If it does not appear there, you can alternatively find it in your computer’s download folder.

3) Open the file “dropbox.dmg” to start the installer.

4) Double click on the blue Dropbox icon in the new window.

5) If a window appears asking if you want to open the Dropbox application, click “open”.

6) On the next screen that appears, click the option that says, “I already have a Dropbox account”, then press “Continue”.

7) Fill in the email and password boxes with the account information you created in Section 1, then press “Continue”.

8) In the following window, select the option “2GB”, then press “Continue”.

Note: If you desire more space for your Dropbox account, you can opt to pay for 100-200 GB of additional space. You can apply this upgrade to your account at any time, though these instructions will not cover that process.

9) The next screen will ask you to “Choose setup type”. As the installer recommends, choose the option “Typical”.

10) The following window helps you connect your account with your smartphone. If you would like to do this, you can either enter your information on this screen now, or go look at our iPhone set up instructions later.

Note: if you choose to set it up now, enter your cell phone number into the box provided.

11) The following window offers you a tour of Dropbox. These instructions will cover the same information in closer detail, so select the option “Skip Tour” and then press “Finish”.

Step 3: How to Use Dropbox on Your Desktop (cont.)

1) First, locate the Dropbox icon on the mac menu-bar, which is on the top of the desktop.

2) Click on the Dropbox icon.

Step 4: How to Use Dropbox on Your Desktop (cont.)

3) Click on the option “Open Dropbox Folder

Note: the picture used in this step depicts a Dropbox account with 6.5GB of space. Your account by default should only have 2GB. This is normal. If you wish to expand your space, see Step 6, or a follow this link to the official Dropbox FAQ that explains how to obtain more space (some of which is free!):

Step 5: How to Use Dropbox on Your Desktop (cont.)

4) See the new window that appears. This is your Dropbox folder. Dropbox automatically provides one or more default folders for you (the image above may not resemble your default folder exactly). But move on to the next section to learn how to create and manage your own folders.

Step 6: How to Create or Delete Folders on Your Mac

1) Hold control and Click within the Dropbox folder and select “New Folder”.

Step 7: How to Create or Delete Folders on Your Mac (cont.)

An untitled folder will appear. (Image above)

1) Rename the untitled folder if desired.

2) To delete the folder, hold control and click on the desired folder.

3) Select the option "move to trash"

Warning: This will remove the folder and all of its contents from your Dropbox account, and you will be unable to access it on any computer or device. However, so long as you have not permanently deleted the folder from your trash bin, you can return it to your Dropbox folder and it will reload to the cloud. See step 8 for how to drag files and folders to your Dropbox to upload.

Step 8: Uploading Files and Folders to Your Dropbox

1) Open up your Dropbox folder and keep it open.

2) Drag any file or folder––either from your desktop or another folder––and drop it within your opened Dropbox folder.

Note: If you want to send the file to a specific folder within your Dropbox folder, simply drag and drop the file inside the specific folder.

Step 9: Confirming That Dropbox Has Saved Your Uploaded Files to the Cloud

1) To confirm that Dropbox is in the process of saving your uploaded file to the cloud, check to see if the Dropbox icon on the mac menu-bar animates with a swirl right after you drag a file into your Dropbox folder (see the second image that displays the blue Dropbox icon to see this swirl animation).

2) To confirm that all files in your Dropbox folder have finished uploading to the cloud, click on the Dropbox icon again and check to see that it says, “All files up to date”.

Step 10: Adjusting Your Dropbox Settings

1) Click on the Dropbox icon in the menu bar.

2) Select the option “Preferences...”

A new preferences window should appear.

Step 11: Uploading Files and Folders to Your Dropbox (cont.)

In the preferences window, change the settings to whatever you like (optional).

For example, you can choose whether or not you want the Dropbox application to start up when you start your computer.

Step 12: Finish

Congratulations, you are done!

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    5 Discussions

    Ed James
    Ed James

    3 years ago

    Nice job with the instructions! But why do we lose 500 MB free space to Dropbox?

    This link will give you 500 MB more free space:


    4 years ago

    Dropbox is an easy way to share file with friends. you can add anyone by their email. here is the link to sign up for dropbox::::


    4 years ago on Introduction

    thank you very much for that clear and concise Instructable.

    it's good to know that not everyone who writes one of these assumes that we are all rocket scientists or young clever nerdy geeks (i used to be once) and make allowances for that.

    thanks again



    5 years ago on Introduction

    I have ipad one, and a Mac Book Pro, but can't get the two to comunicate...Why?


    7 years ago on Step 3

    I found this really helpful and was able to follow the directions all the way through the end in about 10 minutes. The only thing I noticed that could be fixed was that the period goes inside double quotation marks.