Your Dropbox is yours. People can’t just randomly come along and put things into it or find out where it is. Neither can you put files into someone’s Public folder.
(If you’re installing Dropbox for a new account after October 4, 2012 you won’t have a Public folder but you don’t need one. It wasn’t any more ‘public’ than any other folder on your computer and seems to have only confused people.)
The contents of your Public folder, as well as all other folders in your Dropbox, are private unless you specifically share them. No-one can find their way to any of your folders unless you’ve shared the links to them and you can’t find your way to someone’s unless they’ve shared theirs.
Shared Dropbox Folders
Once you have Dropbox installed, you will have a folder under My Documents called My Dropbox.
Simply create a folder in your My Dropbox folder and invite someone else to share it. Once they have Dropbox installed, the shared folder then exists on both computers and files can be easily passed back and forth.
All your files in My Dropbox are synced to your Dropbox account. When you share a folder with someone the files in that folder are also synced to their computer.
For instance, my cousin and I share a genealogy filing system using a Shared folder. I put files into it, they sync to Dropbox in the sky and also appear on her computer. She can pass files over to me the same way. I haven’t invited anyone else to share this folder so no-one else can see it or find it.
How To Share A Dropbox Folder
- Create a new folder in the My Dropbox folder on your computer. Give it a name.
- Right click and choose Dropbox/Share this folder.
- In the browser windows that appears, type the email address of the person you want to share with and click Share folder.
- The recipient will receive an email asking them to accept your invitation.
- If they Accept, the folder will also show up in their Dropbox.
- If they don’t have Dropbox installed yet, they’ll have to do that first.
I generally name my shared folders by the name of the person I’m inviting. For instance, JL-JGB so it’s clear to both participants. Folders can also be shared by a group.
Shared folders are not indexed by Google. This is a private arrangement between you and the people you invite, hosted by Dropbox.
Public Dropbox Folders
As of October 4, 2012 Public folders are no longer part of the Dropbox installation but you can create a new folder called ‘Public’ if you want to where you put all the files you share with the public.
All folders are created equal. You can share a file or a folder publicly or privately.
Anyone who receives a link from you can also share the link with anyone else through email, web pages or social media so, in that sense, it is public.
If you Share this folder with one person or a group you can indicate on the invitation that you don’t want this invitation shared with anyone else so that’s as private as it gets.
When you right click on a file or folder and choose Share Dropbox link, it could be made public depending what someone else does with it. The link is copied to your clipboard. You can then paste the link in an email, for instance, or post it on a website.
The recipient will only be able to see a specific file you send them a link to, not every other file in the same folder, unless they can guess the file-names. If they try to access the main directory they won’t be able to unless you send the link to the entire folder.
You can do this by right-clicking on a folder and choosing Share Dropbox link. The link goes onto your clipboard automatically and you can paste this into an email or a web page and it will give the recipient(s) access to every file in that folder.
If you’re willing to make a link known to the public, i.e. through your website or other web property then, yes, your folder contents are completely public. You can make as many folders as you want in Dropbox; some of them privately shared, some of them public.
If you don’t share the links to the files or folders, no-one can find them. There is no directory listing of people’s Dropbox folders and no such option as other people putting things into them.
For more information, read Access Dropbox Public Folder.