Android

Export Dropbox files to your Android device SD card

If you use Dropbox, and you're looking for a way to gain a bit more space on your Android's internal storage, Jack Wallen has a solution for you.

Dropbox

If you use Dropbox on your Android device, and you're starting to grow concerned about internal storage space, fear not... the latest iteration of the Dropbox mobile client (2.4.5.10) allows you to easily move files from your internal Dropbox folder to the SD card. The one caveat to this feature is that it only allows you to export individual files — not folders or batch exporting (yet). This works great for both small and large files, and the files remain in sync with your Dropbox account, so there's no fear of losing sync of an exported file.

Of course, to take advantage of this feature, you have to have the latest release of Dropbox for Android in the Google Play Store. If you already have Dropbox installed, you can update it from within the Google Play Store by searching for the app, tapping the entry, and then tapping the Update button.

You'll also need a device that includes an SD card. If your device doesn't include external SD storage, this feature won't do you any good.

With the latest release on your device, you're now ready to export those file from your internal storage to the external SD card. Let me show you how this is done, because it's not terribly obvious.

As I said earlier, you're only able to export individual files, so this process will have to be repeated for every file you want to move. Before we begin, you might want to create a Dropbox folder on your external SD card (or another appropriately named folder) to house the exported files. I created a folder called Dropbox on my external storage for the sake of simplicity.

The first step is to open Dropbox and navigate to the folder containing the files to be moved. Locate a file to export and tap the Quick Action button (Figure A) associated with the file (the downward pointing arrow to the right of the file).

Figure A

Figure A

Dropbox on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S4.

Now follow these steps:

  1. Tap the More button from the pop-up (Figure B)
  2. Tap Export
  3. Tap Save to device
  4. Locate the SD card folder to house the export
  5. Tap Export
  6. Allow the export to complete

Figure B

Figure B

The Dropbox Quick Action toolbar ready to serve.

Once you've exported a file, you won't see any indication that its been exported unless you look in the SD card folder. That's where you'll find the exported files. Effectively, what Dropbox does is move the file and then create a symlink in the internal Dropbox folder that points to the exported file. If you connect your other devices (or computers) to your Dropbox account, you won't see any change in the status of the exported files — they'll remain as-is in your account.

This newest take on Dropbox also features vastly improved Android L support. So, if you happen to be one of the lucky few already running L, you'll notice a significant performance boost.

The Android Dropbox experience just got a nice addition to its feature set. Hopefully, someday soon, they'll include the ability to either batch export or export folders. Until then, at least you can get some of your files out of internal storage and onto your SD card.

What do you think about the Android take on Dropbox? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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