How to Use Selective Sync with DropBox Experimental Build 0.8.64

Groovy DropBox How-To Tutorials, tips, Tricks and News We’ve been eagerly and avidly talking up Dropbox in the past couple weeks, and as we continue to delve into this stellar online backup and syncing tool, we’re pleased to report that we’ve discovered even more good stuff. Regarding online storage, Dropbox gives you lots and lots (and that’s why it rocks) – in fact, you can get up to 8 gigabytes of Dropbox space free. But for those of us who are syncing between our netbooks, multimedia servers, and desktops, you might not want to sync your clunkier files across all of your machines for the sake of space. And if you’re using Dropbox at work, you may be concerned about privacy and personal security.

That’s where a new feature from DropBox comes to the rescue called Selective Sync.  Selective Sync solves this issue by allowing you to choose which folders to sync locally and which to leave on the server. Yeah.  Groovy!  Let’s take a look at how it works!


Step One: Wait For the Next Release of Dropbox to Come Out

Just kidding, who wants to do that? Instead of waiting around for the next official Dropbox release like a chump, you can pop on over to the Dropbox forums and grab a copy of the experimental build.  Sure, being an experimental build Dropbox will warn you “buyer beware or use at your own risk” however that being said, I’m running it now on my Macbook with Windows 7 and everything is groovy.  Get that installed and then meet me over at the next step.


Step Two: Access Advanced Preferences


1.   Right-Click the Dropbox icon in your Taskbar status tray and Click Preferences.

Screenshot DropBox Taskbar Menu Preferences


2.   From there, Click the Advanced tab and Click Selective Sync button.

Press DropBox Advanced Preferences Selective Sync Button


Step Three: Choose Folders to Sync


3.   Once you get to the Selective Sync Window, you’ll want to go ahead and Click Switch to Advanced View. As far as I know, the only difference is that the default view doesn’t show subfolders. My guess is that this unnecessary step gets eliminated in the official release.

Check boxes for selecting Dropbox selective sync folders


All of your folders appear selected by default – thus all of your Dropbox folders will appear on your local machine. Here, you can see the folders I’ve checked…

Dropbox Selective Sync menu showing folders selected for local sync


…all of which appear in my Dropbox folder.

Dropbox folder on Windows 7 View


But with a little Selective Sync magic, we can eliminate any unwanted folders. Let’s say this is my work computer, and I don’t want, among other things, my personal writing, photos and tax returns lingering on the company’s grid. I just Uncheck what I don’t want and Click OK and…

Windows Selective Sync Dropbox folder selection


…then the folders disappear from your hard drive.

Windows 7 Windows Explorer Dropbox folder


Notice, however, that you cannot sync individual files selectively. If you want to remove them from your local Dropbox, you’ll have to stick them in folders for now. No matter what you do, however, be assured that your files are safe and sound both on the remote Dropbox server and any other machine(s) running Dropbox.

Dropbox Selective Sync Folders Display


So, that’s that. Selective sync, a much-coveted feature among Dropbox fans is finally here, and it works pretty well. More advanced functionality—such as the ability to set up smart filters (i.e. don’t sync MP3s or exclude files larger than 10 MB) would be excellent. But for now, this feature is pretty sweet.

Give it a whirl yourself and see how you like it—and be sure to let us know in the comments about any groovy tips or tricks you discover along the way.



  1. piks

    June 6, 2010 at 6:30 am

    This is the first time i have heard of dropbox. This is gonna be a very useful tool for me for transferring files. Thanks for sharing how to set up selective folder syncs. Though I would prefer to use the official release.

    • MrGroove

      June 6, 2010 at 10:28 am

      @Piks – For most people, the official release is just fine and that’s what I use all on my systems actually with the exception of my work machine. I don’t like to SYNC my home finance docs to my work PC. No need for my local IT guys to have access to that type of data. Sure, I encrypt them but still. ;)

  2. shockersh

    June 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    ok so this is cool and all but I’m still waiting for the update that let’s me choose folders OUTSIDE the dropbox folder to sync. That way I don’t need to only use the dropbox folder but I can sync stuff like saved games etc… now that would be cool.

    • Animis

      June 8, 2010 at 6:47 am

      agreed, being confined to a “My Dropbox” folder really limits what it can do. I’d like to sync my Outlook files and create a make-shift dropbox-exchange server.

      • MrGroove

        June 8, 2010 at 8:30 am

        Well your in luck because you can do it using symlinks. I’m about 50% done with an article with the step-by-step. Will post it out soon (hopefully today).

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