How to Use Dropbox Smart Sync

Dropbox’s Smart Sync feature will free up valuable space on your hard drive. By saving your files online, you will then be able to delete them from your computer.

How to Use Dropbox Smart Sync

Fortunately, this is a relatively straightforward process across all the most popular devices. This article will explain everything you need to know about how to use Dropbox Smart Sync.

How to Use Dropbox Smart Sync

Most people would like to free up some space on their computer and make it run more smoothly, right? Well, with Smart Sync, not only can you save your files online and get some memory back, but collaborators can view the files online as well. Here’s how to Smart Sync your files.

For Windows and Mac:

  1. Open your File Explorer (for Mac users, this will be your Finder) and find the Dropbox folder created when Dropbox was first installed.
  2. Find the file you want to upload and right-click.
  3. Click the option “Make online-only.”

Once clicked, a cloud icon surrounded by gray will appear next to the selected file, and the file will be removed from your hard drive.

For Android and iOS:

  1. Open the Dropbox app.
  2. From there, find the folder or file you need to upload.
  3. Click “⋮”, which will give you further options.
  4. Turn off “Make available offline.”

Once the file is saved, it will show as “online-only.” This means that you can’t make any changes to the document, but you can still view it. Once the file is opened, you can make changes as usual, but it will begin to take up space on your computer.

An icon at the side of the file will also show a white tick on a green background. When you’ve finished working on your file, make it “online-only” again using the steps above to reclaim the memory.

Selective Sync

There is another option available via Dropbox called Selective Sync. The main differences between the two are that Selective Sync will only allow you to upload complete folders, not individual files. Also, you’re unable to view online-only files on your computer that are already saved in your Dropbox folder.

Other Icons

There are a few more icons that you will encounter on Dropbox:

A white circle of arrows on blue background = Sync in Progress

This icon will appear when a file is being uploaded to Dropbox but is still being updated.

A white cross on red background = Sync Error

This icon will appear when a file has been unable to be uploaded to Dropbox. This could be for several reasons, and this article will give you a few solutions to try below.

A green tick on white background = Available

This icon will appear next to your folder when it has been opened via the Dropbox folder.

A white minus on gray background = Ignored File

This icon will appear next to a file that hasn’t been uploaded to your Dropbox account but can be found in your computer’s Dropbox folder.


As mentioned previously, the main issue most users experience with Dropbox is their files not uploading correctly. This will be denoted by the “Sync Error” icon, a white cross on a red background.

Here are a few options that may remedy the problem.

Close Other Applications

There may be occasions when Dropbox won’t be able to upload a file due to it being opened and in use in a different app. Check what you have open and close what’s unnecessary. Try re-opening the file in Dropbox to see if that fixed the issue.

Get the Latest Version

If the device you’re currently using Dropbox with doesn’t automatically update applications, you may be running a previous version that no longer works correctly.

Rename Your File

Depending on your device, if your file name has a special character, it won’t be able to be uploaded. Try renaming your file using words and numbers if possible. Something else to keep in mind when naming your file: You’re only allowed 260 characters. Any larger and Dropbox won’t accept the upload.

Also, be wary of adding an extra space at the end of the file name. Although easily done, especially if it’s a copy-paste task, Dropbox will reject the file.

Outside Access

As different people can share the same folders and files on Dropbox, it’s possible that someone else might have moved or deleted the file. Sign in to the desktop app to check the last changes made. If the worst has happened and your folder has been deleted, the free version of Dropbox can recover it for 30 days. The paid version has the capability to retrieve files from the past six months.

Check the Time and Date

Dropbox won’t upload a file if the device you’re using has the wrong date or time. Some devices still need to be changed manually every spring and fall. Check your settings and make sure it shows the correct time to rule this option out.

Reach for the Cloud

Dropbox has been recognized as one of the best cloud storage providers available. With the ability to integrate Google Workspace and Microsoft Office, it’s an excellent choice for businesses and individuals alike. Smart Sync, although not available with the free version, is a great way to free up that much-needed computer space and let friends and colleagues interact with your documents at the same time.

Have you ever used Dropbox Smart Sync? What were your experiences like? Let us know in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos