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Sharing read-only folder by link and allowing recipients to "join" the folder

Sharing read-only folder by link and allowing recipients to "join" the folder

plasticmanc
Explorer | Level 4
Go to solution

Hi,

 

As the title says, I want to share a folder with a link (I don't have email addresses for all the intended recipients) in such a way that recipients can join the folder, but not be able to edit the contents.

If they can edit, they get the option to "join this folder". If I have their email addresses I can allow them to join but only view the contents.

But if I send a "can view" link, they can only take a copy of the folder and add that to their dropbox. Each time they try it will add another new copy. If they access these copies through their Dropbox they don't see my more recent changes and additions.

I don't want them to be able to edit (or delete!) my files. I don't have their email addresses, so I want to share with a link. But I do want them to be able to add a live version of the folder to their Dropbox (as they can for "can edit" links).

This doesn't seem like a strange thing to need. Has anyone had this problem? Is there a way to achieve what I want to? As a paying customer how can I get Dropbox to understand this fairly obvious requirement?
  

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions

AngeliqueL
Dropbox Designer
Go to solution

Hi Tim,

 

I'm a content designer here at Dropbox. We're looking into the language in the product to see if we can make it more clear. I reproduced what I think your request was and here's how I did it.

 

From the folder you want to share, click "Share with Dropbox". In the modal, under the heading "Share this folder", you want the line to read "Anyone with this link can view". You may need to click settings to create a new link. Under the tab "Link for viewing" select "Anyone with link" then save.

When you send the link to people and someone opens it while logged in to their Dropbox account, they'll see a blue button to "Join folder." When they click on it, they will get a "Request to join this folder."

After they send it, you'll get a notification that they've asked to join the folder. When you click on that, it's going to return you to the share modal of your folder, but now their email address is pre-populated (the one they use for their Dropbox account).

Now make sure the line under "Share this folder" still reads "Anyone with this link can view." (If you have a different default in your settings, it may read something else.)

 

I've confirmed that when I update the shared folder, my recipient can view but not edit. You can remove people from the folder at any time in the same share modal. 

 

I hope that works for you! Let me know if it doesn't.

Angelique

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5 Replies 5

Jay
Dropbox Staff
Go to solution

Hi @plasticmanc, thanks for messaging the Community.

 

While this isn't a normal way to get users to access shared folders, since the owner usually knows all the email addresses for security reasons, there is a workaround for this.

 

Following the info on this article, you can forward the email of the shared folder invite (from someone who was directly invited), to whoever you want, or leave the link somewhere they can access it. This way, those users would need to request access to add the shared folder to their account, and you can allow or deny their requests manually.

 

Make sure that the email invite was for read-only access to the shared folder, before sharing that link to other users.

 

If you have any further queries, feel free to message back.


Jay
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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plasticmanc
Explorer | Level 4
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Hi Jay,

 

Thanks for the quick and helpful reply. Whilst I haven't tested what you suggest, it does seem like a usable workaround for some situations. The downside is that presumably it doesn't allow some link recipients to just view the files without joining the folder?

In response to your comment that "the owner usually knows all the email addresses for security reasons" I would respond that the default for "can edit" links is to allow users to join the folder (rather than copy it). In this instance the owner of the folder doesn't know the email addresses, and allowing edit access is surely a bigger security issue?

Perhaps it would help to give more details on the specific requirement? The folder owner leads a choir and puts recordings of the songs in a folder so members can listen and practice at home. The dropbox music player is useful for this purpose. The members are all contactable by WhatsApp (so no email addresses, but why are phone numbers somehow less secure?). The members should not be able to edit the folder contents for obvious reasons. Some members are dropbox users and would like to just join the folder, so they can go directly to it in dropbox and see all the latest songs. Others do not have dropbox accounts and are more comfortable just using the link each time.

Since it is clearly possible to allow other users to join a shared folder without edit permission (in the way you describe) why should a read only link not have both options - "copy to my dropbox" and "join this folder" (or just "request to join this folder"). This seems the more obvious way to set it up to me. It allows full flexibility, rather than assuming what users want.

Thanks again,

Tim

 

 

Hannah
Dropbox Staff
Go to solution

Hey @plasticmanc, thanks for your reply here.

 

We appreciate your feedback about our ways of sharing files and folders.

 

In my opinion, the easiest way to go about this, is to share a 'can view' link with everyone.

 

The shared links are live anyway, so any updates you make to the folder will appear each time someone accesses the link and there's no need for the folder to be added to their accounts, if they don't need to edit it.

 

I will however, pass your comments along to our team about this.

 

If you need anything else, let us know!


Hannah
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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plasticmanc
Explorer | Level 4
Go to solution

Hi Hannah,

 

I think I've confirmed now that the answer to my query is "No, Dropbox can't do this.". 

The problem with your suggested solution, is that some choir members want to just access the folder and files directly in their Dropbox, without using the link every time. This particularly includes using the app with respect to mobile devices, or in the file system on PCs. Why should these users have to go back to a web browser each time to get the up to date version? What if they don't have an internet connection when they're trying to access the files? In the app or the PC Window Explorer integration it's possible to ensure files are downloaded/updated as soon as changes happen. Surely that's one of the main points of dropbox, to keep everything in sync. Otherwise we might as well just use a website?

And if it's possible to make the default for "edit" links, "join this folder", surely it should be possible for "read-only" links? This is why it seems strange (to me) that it's not possible.

Thanks for the response, and for your kind offer to pass the request on to the team.

Tim

AngeliqueL
Dropbox Designer
Go to solution

Hi Tim,

 

I'm a content designer here at Dropbox. We're looking into the language in the product to see if we can make it more clear. I reproduced what I think your request was and here's how I did it.

 

From the folder you want to share, click "Share with Dropbox". In the modal, under the heading "Share this folder", you want the line to read "Anyone with this link can view". You may need to click settings to create a new link. Under the tab "Link for viewing" select "Anyone with link" then save.

When you send the link to people and someone opens it while logged in to their Dropbox account, they'll see a blue button to "Join folder." When they click on it, they will get a "Request to join this folder."

After they send it, you'll get a notification that they've asked to join the folder. When you click on that, it's going to return you to the share modal of your folder, but now their email address is pre-populated (the one they use for their Dropbox account).

Now make sure the line under "Share this folder" still reads "Anyone with this link can view." (If you have a different default in your settings, it may read something else.)

 

I've confirmed that when I update the shared folder, my recipient can view but not edit. You can remove people from the folder at any time in the same share modal. 

 

I hope that works for you! Let me know if it doesn't.

Angelique

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    AngeliqueL Dropbox Designer
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    plasticmanc Explorer | Level 4
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    Hannah Dropbox Staff
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    Jay Dropbox Staff
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