How to Delete Files From Dropbox

Get rid of old documents to make room for more

An image graphic showing the Dropbox icon and a trash can icon on a computer screen.

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud-based storage platforms you can use to store (and access) files remotely. If you've been using Dropbox for a while and have uploaded lots of files, or you're running out of storage space on your Dropbox account, you might want to delete the most unnecessary ones to help free up some space.

The Pros of Deleting Files From Your Dropbox Account

Deleting files from your Dropbox account will:

  • Immediately free up space in your account for more important files;
  • Help keep your files and folders organized;
  • Cut down on old or unnecessary files that are no longer needed;
  • Save you time from having to browse through so many files and/or folders;
  • Prevent you from having to upgrade to a more expensive plan to get more storage space; and
  • Give you the opportunity to recover your deleted files within a certain time frame depending on your Dropbox plan.

If you have a free Basic account or a Plus account, you can recover any deleted files up to 30 days after deletion. If you have a Business account, the recovery time frame is extended to 120 days. If you have a Professional account, you have up to 180 days.

The Cons of Deleting Files From Your Dropbox Account

Unfortunately, deleting files from your Dropbox account also means:

  • You can't recover deleted files after the recovery time frame is up;
  • If you choose to permanently delete files, they can't be recovered at all;
  • You may be unable to delete as many files as you want all at once since Dropbox limits the number of files you can delete at one time;
  • You can't permanently delete content from a shared folder unless it's content you added and immediately deleted; and
  • Permanent deletion of files is required to free up space.

How to Delete Files From Dropbox Using the Desktop Client

The following sections will feature screenshot instructions using the Dropbox desktop client for macOS. You can follow along if you're using the desktop client for Linux or Windows, although you might notice a few slight differences.

  1. Open the Dropbox desktop client and navigate to the file you want to delete.

    A screenshot of the Dropbox desktop client for macOS.
  2. Right-click the file you want to delete, then select Delete.

    A screenshot of the Dropbox desktop client for macOS.

    You can also click a file, select the three dots in the previewer on the right, then select Delete. An even easier option is to drag and drop any file into your computer's trash can.

  3. You might see a message appear asking if you're sure you want to delete the file. If your main goal is to free up space on your computer's hard drive without deleting the file from your Dropbox account, you can click See sync options to find out how to turn this option on.

If you're sure you want to delete the file across your whole account, click Delete Everywhere.

A screenshot of the Dropbox desktop client for macOS.

If you want to recover deleted files or permanently delete them so you can free up space, you have to do this from Dropbox.com in a web browser. See steps 6 to 8 in the web-based instructions below for more on how to recover deleted files or permanently delete them.

How to Delete Files From Dropbox.com

  1. Navigate to Dropbox.com in a web browser and sign into your account.

  2. Navigate to the file you want to delete.

    A screenshot of Dropbox.com.
  3. Select the three dots to the far left of the file name, then select Delete.

    A screenshot of Dropbox.com.
  4. Select Delete again to confirm your deletion.

    A screenshot of Dropbox.com.
  5. Remember that you can recover your deleted file for a limited time, and your storage space won't be freed up until it's permanently deleted. To either recover or permanently delete the file you just deleted in the previous steps, select Deleted files from the vertical menu on the left.

    A screenshot of Dropbox.com.
  6. Hover your cursor over the file you want to either recover or permanently delete and select the checkbox to the right of it.

    A screenshot of Dropbox.com.
  7. To the right, select Restore or Permanently Delete.

How to Delete Dropbox Files From the Mobile App

The following sections will feature screenshot instructions using the Dropbox desktop mobile app for iOS. You can follow along if you're using the Android app, although you might notice a few slight differences.

  1. Open the Dropbox app on your mobile device and navigate to the file that you want to delete.

  2. Tap the three dots below the file.

  3. Tap Delete.

  4. Tap Delete again to confirm your deletion.

    Dropbox app on iOS

If you want to recover deleted files or permanently delete them to free up space, you can only do so from Dropbox.com. See steps 6 to 8 in the web-based instructions above.