How to Set Up Dropbox on the iPad

Make room for more apps, photos, and music

Woman Working on iPad

Tatiana Kolesnikova / Moment Open / Getty Images

Open a Dropbox account to free up space on your iPad and save your photos and documents to the web rather than to the iPad's storage. Dropbox is particularly convenient for iPad users who want access to a lot of pictures. They no longer have to worry about filling up the iPad or limiting the number of apps they can install on the device.

Instructions in this article apply to iPads running iOS 12 or iOS 11.

Storing your files with Dropbox makes transferring files from your iPad to your Windows or Mac computer (and vice-versa) a breeze. Just open the Dropbox app on your iPad and choose the photos or other files you want to transfer. After they upload, the files are available in your computer's Dropbox folder and from any other device you set up with Dropbox.

Dropbox works seamlessly with the new Files app on the iPad, so transferring files is simple.

Dropbox is great for increasing productivity on the iPad or for backing up your photos.

How to Open a Dropbox Account

It takes just minutes to establish a Dropbox account and then set up Dropbox on both your iPad and your computer — or any other devices you want to have access to your Dropbox. You can register for a free Dropbox account either on your computer or your iPad. Dropbox works with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, and it is functionally the same in each of these operating systems.

Open a Dropbox Account in a Computer Browser

  1. Open a web browser on your computer and go to the Dropbox website at www.dropbox.com.

  2. Enter your name, email address, and a password in the sign-up section of the web page.

  3. Check the box next to I agree to the Dropbox Terms.

  4. Click or press Sign up.

    The sign up screen for the Dropbox website

Open a Dropbox Account With the iPad App

  1. Tap the App Store on your iPad and enter Dropbox into the search field. Select the Dropbox app from the results and download it.

  2. Tap the Dropbox app to launch it. It opens on the sign-up screen.

  3. Enter your name, email address, and a password in the fields provided.

  4. Tap Create Account.

    Sign up screen on the iPad Dropbox app

If you prefer, you can choose to sign in to Dropbox with your Google account by selecting Sign in with Google.

How to Install Dropbox

After you sign up for your Dropbox account, it's time to install Dropbox on your iPad and computer.

Installing Dropbox on a Computer

  1. Go to the Dropbox website at www.dropbox.com in a web browser on your computer.

  2. Download the Dropbox application by clicking Download at the top of the opening screen.

    Dropbox website opening screen with Download link
  3. Select Download Dropbox on the next screen.

    Dropbox download screen
  4. Click the installer in your Downloads folder and follow the prompts to finish the installation.

  5. After you install Dropbox, sign in with your new account credentials.

The Dropbox application is installed on your hard drive. Make an alias and place the Dropbox folder on your desktop for easy access. On a Mac, it is in the Finder.

You now have access to a Dropbox folder where you can drag photos and files just as if it is another drive on your computer.

The free Dropbox account comes with 2 GB of space, and you can earn 250 MB of extra space by completing five of seven steps in the Get Started section. You can also earn extra space by recommending friends, but if you need a serious jump in space, go to one of the pro plans.

Installing Dropbox on the iPad

When you sign up with the Dropbox app on the iPad, you can save files to the Dropbox servers and transfer files from one device to another with ease. To add Dropbox to your iPad:

  1. Download the Dropbox app to your iPad if you haven't already. It's a free download at the App Store. Tap the Dropbox app to open it.

  2. Log in using the email and password you used when registering for your Dropbox account. This links your iPad to Dropbox, and you won't need to log in again unless you choose to log out.

    Sign in screen in the Dropbox app for iPad
  3. After you log in, you are asked if you want to upload all your photos and videos to Dropbox. You can turn on this feature later if you are undecided.

The Dropbox folder on your computer acts like any other folder. You can create subfolders and drag and drop files anywhere in the directory structure, and you can access all of these files using the Dropbox app on your iPad.

Transfer Photos From Your iPad to Your Dropbox

Now that you have Dropbox working, you may want to upload some of your photos to your Dropbox account so you can access them from your PC or your other devices. You do this from the Dropbox app on your iPad, not the Photos app.

  1. Open the Dropbox app on your iPad, select the Home or Photos tab at the bottom of the screen and then tap the + sign.

    The Home screen of the Dropbox app
  2. Tap Upload Photos in the menu that opens.

    Dropbox options in the pop-up Create menu

    (If you haven't previously given Dropbox access to your photos, a screen opens where you need to tap Change Photos Access. You are sent to the Settings app to turn on the permission. This only occurs the first time you upload photos.)

  3. The left panel displays the photos in the iPad's Photos app. Tap Select to choose an entire group of images or tap individual photos to select them. Tap Next.

    Dropbox view of the images in the Photos app
  4. Tap Choose a Folder.

    Dropbox Save Settings screen
  5. Select an existing folder in the left panel and tap Set Location.

    List of Files and Folders in Dropbox

    (If you want to create a new folder, tap Create Folder at the bottom of the screen, enter a name and tap Create again. Then tap Set Location.)

  6. In the screen that opens, tap Upload to begin the transfer of files.

    Dropbox Upload screen

Sharing Folders in Dropbox

If you want to show your files or photos to your friends, share an entire folder in Dropbox with them. When inside a folder, tap the Share button. Dropbox opens a window where you can create a link to the folder and share it. 

Dropbox folder sharing options

Dropbox is just one of the many apps you can use to become the boss of your iPad.