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How To Access Dropbox from the Chromebook File Manager

dropbox chromebook

If you’ve been hoping to see Dropbox integration on Chromebooks and other Chrome devices you’re about to get giddy.

A new Chrome app allows users to access Dropbox files from the Chrome OS File Manager, just like Google Drive. You can browse and search files stored in your Dropbox and upload new ones.

The nifty new feature is possible thanks to the File System Provider API which has been available in Google’s cloud-centric OS for the past few releases.

dropbox chromebook

‘File System for Dropbox’ (to give the new unofficial app its full name) is made by the same developer behind the recent Chrome OS SFTP mount app, Yoichiro Tanaka.

Like Tanaka’s other app he’s made his delightful Dropbox bolt-on open source and put the code on GitHub. 

The File System API does not currently let you “pin” files that are stored on remote mounts offline but — awesomely — Google Evangelist François Beaufort tells that Chromium developers are planning to add this capability in the future.

For now there is a workaround. If you want to use a Dropbox file or folder offline on your Chromebook you simply need to copy and paste (or drag) it to your Downloads folder. No, this is not as neat as being able to “pin” in place, but it is better than nothing.

How To Access Dropbox on a Chromebook

So, how do you use Dropbox on a Chromebook with this new app?

It’s easy.

You will need an up-to-date Chromebook (or Chromebox, Chromebase, etc.) that’s connected to the internet plus a Dropbox account and the File System for Dropbox app, which can be installed straight from the Chrome Web Store:

File System for Dropbox on Chrome Web Store

After the app has installed open the Chrome App Launcher and launch it (look for a blue folder icon with a ‘D’ in the middle).

Every time you run the app from the app launcher the ‘File System for Dropbox’ app will ask you to “Mount your Dropbox”. Click the ‘Mount’ button to do this.

dropbox file system app for Chromebook

On your first run you’ll then see a Dropbox login form. Enter your username and password and proceed to ‘authorise’ the app so it can fetch your cloud data and present it in the file manager.

With mounting and authorisation out of the way all that’s left is to use it!

Open the File Manager. You will see a new ‘Dropbox’ item in the sidebar. Click on this to view your Dropbox files.

dropbox chromebook

When you’re done you can ‘quit’ the app by clicking the eject icon in the sidebar. Doing this will unmount Dropbox.

To re-mount it again all you need to do is open the app from the app launcher and click ‘Mount’.

Notes

It’s important to remember that despite appearances to the contrary all of your Dropbox files are still online; they may appear in a folder in your file manager but they are not actually downloaded to or stored on your Chromebook (as mentioned near the start of this article).

That means that without an internet connection you won’t be able to add, edit or access files stored on Dropbox (though the same is true of Google Drive if a file isn’t ‘pinned’ for offline use).

  • Boothy

    Now that’s pretty awesome (even though we knew it would be coming)!!!!!!!

    Especially with Microsoft’s deal with Dropbox, Dropbox really now is the glue that hangs systems together.
    Write in Docs, export as .docx to Dropbox, view in Office (Android, Windows or Office Online) – Nice!

  • Cristian Otegui

    perfecto para mí

  • Kevin Thomas

    Chromebook becoming stronger and better everyday. Thanks for sharing

  • Noremacam

    It looks like the github link is a 404 error.

  • Calvin Uijlen

    Nice!
    My wishlist:
    – SAMBA support
    – Microsoft OneDrive support
    – FTP support (not SFTP but FTP)
    – MEGA support (this may be a difficult one?)

    • There’s already a OneDrive version made by this developer on the Web Store. It doesn’t have “copy” functionality yet, though. Just search for “file system for onedrive”.

      • Calvin Uijlen

        Thanks man :)

    • glenstein

      I second MEGA support. I’d rather have MEGA than DropBox, honestly.

    • Alucard291

      yup samba support would be great too…

  • Mason Atha

    I’m glad someone got on this! I’ve been waiting for a while.

  • ChromeDude

    Your Ubuntu mugs… XD

  • mattmcgraw

    WebDAV next! I need my ownCloud

    • ForSquirel

      yes please! Someone make that happen.

  • Migs

    One Drive integration next PLEASE :)

    • There’s already a OneDrive version made by this developer on the Web Store. It doesn’t have “copy” functionality yet, though. Just search for “file system for onedrive”.

      • Migs

        Thank you!

  • Your screenshots show the Dropbox logo in the file manager, but I see the blue folder with the letter D… I’m on Dev channel… seeing it on another box on stable as well. Any ideas

    • I’m not sure how or why. I noticed that discrepancy when comparing my screens to the web store screenshots. I’m also running Dev, fwiw and haven’t tweaked anything.

  • Antoine

    Is it possible to use several Google Drive accounts in the file manager? I use both a personnal and a corporate Drive account and I would love not being forced to log out anytime I need to access my professional files

    • You can add multiple users to the same Chrome OS session, AIUI. That should do what you need without needing to log out (instead you’ll ‘switch’ between accounts).

      Open the Chrome OS settings tray and click your username and you’ll see a drop down for ‘add another account’.

  • Loonytik

    Is there a limitation on what file it will open? I added it to my chromebook and the PDF’s open fine but Word and Excel documents won’t open.

  • Thank you thank you thank you! This was THE one missing feature.

  • Hadrian Embalsado

    Could there be a possibility for other cloud storage apps do the same?

  • Monica

    I just downloaded this to my chromebook but I still can’t edit my dropbox text files – i can only view them. I thought this app was for editing.

  • Monica

    Thanks – I downloaded Write box – it works really well.

  • Barry Wilson

    Is there any way to have text files on chromebook??

  • dannystiller

    When I mounted the File System for Dropbox I used my wife’s dropbox account username and password, but now how to I clear that and use mine? When I uninstall and re download and mount, it automatically uses the old account. How do I change the dropbox account I use with hte File System for Dropbox app.