Dropbox: Using Selective Sync / Adding or Removing Folder(s) to Desktop App


Dropbox at U-M


How to use selective sync to free up hard drive space


Selective sync lets you choose which folders you’d like to store on your computer’s hard drive from all of the folders you have stored in your Dropbox account. If you check a folder, that folder and the files and folders inside it are saved to your hard drive. If you uncheck a folder, that folder and the files and folders inside it are removed from your hard drive, and are only stored on dropbox.com.

Note:  Automatic, local desktop syncing for Team Folders is now turned off. Users will have to use Selective Sync on the desktop to add it into their desktop sync. You must also install the Dropbox desktop application to use Selective Sync. 

You can view the sync status of your folders from your desktop app preferences or from the Dropbox folder on your computer:

Green circle with white check Local — The folder is saved to your hard drive and dropbox.com

Blue circle with chasing arrows Syncing/Updating — The folder is updating

White cloud image Online-only — Learn more about online-only files in this Smart Sync article

White circle with green check Mixed — The folder contains files and/or folders that are local and online-only

Choose which folders to store on your hard drive

To check and uncheck which folders to store on your computer:

  1. Click the Dropbox icon in your system tray (Windows) or menu bar (Mac)
  2. Click your avatar (profile picture or initials)
  3. Click Preferences…
  4. Click the Sync tab
  5. Under Selective Sync, click Choose folders (Mac) or Selective Sync… (Windows)
  6. Check the folders you’d like saved on your hard drive. Un-check the folders you’d like removed (Folders that aren't selected will be available only on the Dropbox website.
  7. Click Update

Additional Information

NOTE: Once a Team Folder is created, it could take time for it to be seen in Selective Sync. When Selective Sync is opened there may a notice that says for example "ITS has added you to "group" however it will not sync to your computer".  It may take 10-20 minutes (more or less) for the Folder to appear in Selective Sync to choose per the above steps. 

One common cause of not syncing is characters in folder name that are not allowed on the target OS.
See https://help.dropbox.com/files-folders/sort-preview/file-names

Need additional information or assistance? Contact the ITS Service Center.


Article ID: 3069
Tue 7/7/20 9:05 AM
Thu 11/4/21 3:38 PM