Access Dropbox Public Folder

DropboxYou cannot access anyone’s Public Dropbox folder unless they’ve given you the link to it. You can’t search Dropbox folders.

There’s a common misconception that Dropbox folders are listed in a directory of drop boxes somewhere, and people can put files in and take files out anytime they want to at some mysterious location, if only someone would tell us where it is.

Dropbox is not a public post office. There is no manual of zip codes. You can’t ‘find’ people on Dropbox. Neither can you ‘view’ another person’s Dropbox files unless they want you to. You can only send files to another person’s Dropbox by having a shared folder with them. (Read about how to share a Dropbox folder.)

Your Public Dropbox folder is simply a default folder created during the installation of Dropbox on your computer.

(As of October 4, 2012 Public folders are no longer a part of the Dropbox installation.)

You can use it or not use it. I think Dropbox intended it as a place to put all the files you want to share publicly, just as the Photos folder was/is a place to put all your photos. It’s not necessary, just a convenience.

You can do the same thing by creating a folder called XYZ. The point is in the link itself. If you publicly post a link to a file or folder in your Dropbox, it’s public.

If you share only links to individual files within the Public folder, or any folder, that’s all someone else can see. You can share the link to the whole folder in which case all the files in it, present and future, can be seen by anyone who has the link.

If you don’t have a Public folder, just create a new folder named Public. It will work exactly the same.

To share a link to an individual file within any folder:

Right-click on the file, and choose Share Dropbox link

Copy Public Link, Dropbox

If you installed Dropbox before October 4, 2012, it might say Copy public link instead. It doesn’t really matter. Either way you have a link to share.

The link is now on your clipboard so you can paste it into a web page or email. The person who receives this link will only be able to see the specific file you sent them a link to, not the other contents of your folder.

To share a link to an entire folder, right click on the folder and choose the same thing: Share Dropbox link.

Share Dropbox Public Folder

This will copy the link to your clipboard and you can paste it wherever you want.

Think twice about whether you want the link to your entire Public folder, or any folder, made public because once you give it away you can’t take it back except by deleting the folder and its contents.

The search engines do not index these links unless they’re posted on web pages. To stop sharing a file, simple remove it from your folder.

To put a file in someone else’s Dropbox

Create a Shared Folder and invite them to it. If they accept your invitation, you can then put files into the folder on your side and they’ll show up on the other person’s computer in their Dropbox.

4 thoughts on “Access Dropbox Public Folder

  1. Anon

    There is a huge difference between “copy public link” and “share dropbox link”.
    The sharing link sends you to a stupid site, so you cannot embed a picture from dropbox, for example.
    Also it ruins videos, and adds an additional, unnecessary step to download files.
    Sharing is broken. I just hope the public folder with the public link will never die.

    1. JL Beeken Post author

      As stated in this post the Public folder ‘died’ a long time ago, unless you installed Dropbox at a time when the Public folder still existed.

      Looking at my own, “copy public link” only applies to individual files within the Public folder and works just fine.

      In the case of the Public folder only, if you have one, “share dropbox link” applies to the folder itself and leads to this article:

      Web vulnerability affecting shared links

      For all other files and folders the only option is ‘share dropbox link’ and I don’t see any problem with it. I can only test my own files so that may affect the outcome but with the several file formats I tested I’m simply taken to a page for download.

      If you have problems with the functionality of Dropbox, and it sounds like you do, I would suggest writing to them or posting your complaints at their forum.

      1. Anon

        All I’m saying is that outside of the public folder, the “new” way of sharing, while may be safer, actually lost a couple of functions.
        Here’s what you can do with a public link, and cannot with the sharing way.

        -Hosting a static HTML website
        While it’s bad and should not been done since dropbox is not a web server, it works surprisingly well. You just send the public link to the index of the site, and it works. Perfect for small documents, etc.
        -Direct link to any file, for example
        Let’s say I have a webm, pretty good quality. The public link is basically a direct link to a file. The browser displays a small built in player, you play it, everyone’s happy. Now with sharing, you get a “preview” through dropbox, which downgrades the quality (way too much), then you have to download it with the button, then you can open and watch the original. Don’t have a player? Open it with the browser. 2 steps more with sharing.
        Direct link to images is necessary for many reasons. Uploading images to any site, or embedding them requies you to have a direct link, which you get with public link. With sharing, that doesn’t work at all. Also you get a “preview” again with lower quality.
        Follow the link, and it works. (with public link).
        With sharing, you follow the link, see a static preview, download it, open it again then it works.

        These things affected me directly, thankfully I was able to re-enable the public folder.
        Even those who registered after the public folder “died” can re-enable it with following this link:

        Although the whole public folder theoretically can be explored after sharing any of the files link inside (the only downside), so it should really be treated as a “public” folder, that anyone can access.


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