Manage and share your photos on your iPad using Dropbox

Get photos off your iPad using Dropbox

They say that the best camera is the one you have with you and your smartphone becomes the best camera around. However, the most frustrating part of using the iPhone or iPad is getting photos onto your computer. Rather than emailing photos back to your computer all the time, this document will show you how to use Dropbox to share, view, stream and download your photos.

Save your photos to the Cloud

There are a number of excellent online file sync services that you can use to keep photos available to you anywhere that you have web access.  All of these services can automatically upload new photos and videos in the background and your photos are available to view, stream, download or share from the  service's web site, from your computer or from the app you installed on your iPad. If you are not in a wireless environment, you can tweak the settings to only upload when you are connected to WiFi. Using the Cloud means your photos are always available (subect to an internet connection), and most importantly, are backed up off site.

All you need is an account with Dropbox and  then download the free app from the App Store.

Dropbox ;   2 gb free, or Dropbox Pro: $10.99 (AUD) per month for 1tb (1000 gb) (November 2014 prices)


Create an account & download the Dropbox app

One of the easiest ways to make sure you never lose a photo or video you take with your iPhone or iPad is to use Dropbox. The online storage and file syncing app has a feature called Camera Upload that automatically saves photos and videos from your mobile device to your Dropbox folder, keeping your photos and videos safe both stored in the cloud and synced with your computer. Here's how to use Camera Upload with the iOS app.

  • First sign up for a free Dropbox account from your computer.
  • Then, download the free Dropbox app on your iPad from the App Store

Dropbox - Auto upload photos

The Dropbox app has a very cool auto-upload process that will automatically upload photos and videos from the iPad Camera Roll to Dropbox.

Auto upload your Camera roll photos to your Dropbox account

  • Log in to the Dropbox app on the iPad with your new account and click on the Photos icon. This is where you can view all your photos and any videos taken with the iPad's camera.
  • Open the Settings.

Enable auto Uploading of photos from your iPad or iPhone

Open the Settings, Select Camera Upload and turn ON. Photos will only auto upload when you are connected to WiFi. If you want to use cellular data, enable: Use Cellular data.  

As soon as you enable Auto Upload, the upload process begins for all existing photos in the Camera Roll. You can view your photos on in the Photos page, in addition to seeing them in the Camera Uploads folder from your computer and other Dropbox-connected devices and in the Dropbox app on the iPad. There's no setting to choose photos or videos. Dropbox Camera Upload will upload both.

From now on, all future photos taken by the iPad will automatically upload to the Dropbox folder. You can then download your photos from Dropbox to your computer by going to, logging in to your account, and downloading the photos.

Keep an eye on your Dropbox storage space. You only get 2GB of space to start with, and if you use Dropbox to store lots of other files, this can get used up rather quickly. If you run out of space, you should upgrade to the Dropbox pro account


How does Dropbox work?

Dropbox functions by creating a local folder on your device or computer that then syncs with an online version. This means you have all your data available whether you are on or offline. Files appear quickly online once you place them in the Dropbox folder on your computer, Folders and files can also be shared with friends either by sending them links (these work for non-Dropbox users) which allow them to view the data, or by sending a collaboration invite for the file.

This is Dropbox accessed on the web  by logging into your account at Select Photos to see all photos uploaded from  your iPad or iPhone.

Dropbox folder installed on your computer

This is the Dropbox folder installed on a MAC.  You can download Dropbox for both Windows and MAC. Every photo and file uploaded to your Dropbox account will be synced to any device with dropbox installed. Photos will appear in the local Dropbox folder as Camera Uploads.

Files with a green tick have been synchronised. This means the photo has been successfully uploaded to Dropbox and been pushed out to all your devices with Dropbox installed. All your Dropbox devices have access to the same content.  Anything with a blue tick has been uploaded to Dropbox but not yet synchronised.

You can open your online Dropbox folder and copy the photos and videos to your picture library on your computer. Don't drag the photos out of the folder or cut and paste them as this will remove the photo from Dropbox.

Download Dropbox for Windows

Download Dropbox for MAC

Sharing photos from Dropbox

Once you have your photos uploaded to Dropbox, you can share them to friends or family. No longer do you need to email large files to  people, burn the photos to a DVD or copy them to a USB drive. With Dropbox, you can create a link to the photos or create a folder  for sharing, put the photos into that folder and share the folder. The person receiving the link will need a Dropbox account to access the folder, but not an individual image.

If you choose to spend the $9.99 per month to get the Dropbox Pro account, you'll be able to enable viewer permissions. You'll also be able to set passwords and expirations for shared links if you have Dropbox Pro.

Sharing a photo using your computer

Select a photo from your Camera Uploads folder in the Dropbox folder.

Right-Click on the image you want to share.

Select Share Dropbox link.  The link is copied to the clipboard. You can paste the link into a Word document or directly into an email message or text mesage app

The link pasted into an email message

When you click the link from the email, it opens the photo in Dropbox where you can view it, You can also download the photo to your computer, save it your Dropbox account, if you have one, or print it. Sharing a photo does not require the recipient to have a Dropbox account unlike sharing a folder.

Sharing a photo from your iPad

From the Dropbox app, you can share a photo or multiple photos to as many people as you like. Select the Photos from the Photos tab in the Dropbox app, tap the Sharing button and then tap Copy Link. This generates a link which you can put in an email. Those receiving the link can open the photo; no need for a Dropbox account. They can download the photo, print it or download it into their Dropbox account (if they have one). They cannot share the photo to anyone else. However, if the photo is downloaded, it ceases to be private and could be shared.

Make sure you are in the Photos tab (2nd tab from the left at the bottom)

  1. Tap this button where you can select one photo or multiple photos.
  2. Tap the photos you want to share.
  3. Tap the Sharing button.
  4. Tap the Copy Link button.  This will generate the link and copy the link to the iPad's clipboard, ready to be pasted.

Send the link to the shared photos

Open your Mail app and create a new message. In the body of the message, tap and hold, then tap Paste. This will paste the link into the message. Complete your message and then tap Send.

Receiving an email with a link to a photo

Those receiving an email with a link need only to tap the link which will open that folder via Safari if you do this on the iPad.  If you open the mail message on a computer, then the default browser will open the photo. eg; Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome.

Viewing the photo from a browser

Sharing an Album from your Dropbox account

You can only do this from your Dropbox account on a computer using your browser. Sign into your account and click the Photos Tab

  1. Select the photos you want to put in the album.
  2. Right Click anywhere on the page. You have two options: 1. Select  Add 5 to Album will create an album that you can share, or 2. Just share the photos without creating an Album. You can then create the Album and name it .


Viewing and sharing the Album

The album is then available from your Dropbox account. You can share the album, add more photos to the album, delete photos from the album, view the photos. Clicking on a photo will bring up all the options available: Set that picture as the album cover, remove it from the album, or just share that photo.

Sharing the Album

Right-Click the name of the  album and select Share Album.

Enter the email address of the recipient and click Send.

If you want to share the album to Twitter or Facebook, click the relevant icon on the top right.

Receiving an invitation to share an album

The email will include the direct link to the album stored from your Dropbox account. The recipient does not need a Dropbox account (unlike sharing folders). Clicking View Album will open the album in the browser where you can view, download and print the photos.

Other ways to share a photo from the Dropbox app

Dropbox is not the only way you can share photos from the Dropbox app. You could use the sharing button to share photos via email, messages, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest.

  1. Make sure you are in the Photos tab of the Dropbox app.
  2. Select the photo (s) you want to share.
  3. Tap the Sharing button.
  4. Tap the app you want to share to. Eg, Tap Facebook to post the photos to your Facebook account.


Sharing a folder of photos (From a computer)

Sharing folders in Dropbox are essentially for collaboration. Anyone who gets an invite to your folder will need a Dropbox account and must sign into that account before they can view the photos. When you create a shared folder and add other people to it, its files will appear in their Dropbox just as they do in yours. Any member of the folder can add, delete, or edit files within that folder so if you only have the free Dropbox account, this may become a major issue for you.

If you have a Dropbox Pro account: As the owner of the folder, you can decide who in the folder is an editor and who is a viewer. Editors have the ability add, remove, and edit files in the folder, while viewers are only allowed to view the folder contents.

How to create a shared folder:  Create a folder inside the Camera Uploads folder in your Dropbox folder.  Right-click the folder and select: Share this Folder

How sharing a folder works in Dropbox

When you share a folder, you are given a link to the folder and then need to send that link to your selected friends. Each person to whom you provide the link must be given permissions: Either they can edit or view the folder's contents.  Dropbox shared folders let you collaborate on a set of files. When someone joins a shared folder, the folder appears inside their Dropbox, and syncs to their computers automatically.

  1. Enter the email addresses of those you wish to share the folder with.
  2. Allocate permissions (if you have the Pro account). Edit or View.
  3. Share the folder.

Receiving an invitation to a shared folder

The recipient must have a Dropbox account which involves signing up for Dropbox, verifying their email address and downloading the Dropbox software on their computer.  In the emsil, click View Folder. This will open their Dropbox account where they must Accept the invitation. They now have access to the folder and all the photos. They can edit, rename, delete, move, view, print, and share the photo on to someone else. Very powerful, and maybe not what you want to do with your photos.

The sharing options are great for collaborating on documents where multiple people work on a file; maybe not so for photos.

Viewing the shared folder from the Dropbox account in a browser

From your web browser, I'm using Safari, go to and log in to your Dropbox account.

  1. This is Lynda Barron's dropbox account.
  2. The name of the folder that Lynda has been granted sharing privileges. She cannot access any other documents in my Dropbox account
  3. Right-click on any file and these are the options Lynda can do, as I have given her Editing privileges.
  4. The names of others who have sharing privileges on this folder.

Amending the shared folder - using your browser

From the browser on your computer,  login to your Dropbox account.

  1. Select the Sharing link.
  2. Select the Options link of the folder you want to amend.
  1. You can Unshare the folder.
  2. You can change the privileges of any of the people.
  3. You can invite more people.