Use symbolic links in a Dropbox folder on your Mac (or Linux)

Today I’m gonna share with you a little trick which is very useful to upload folders on your Dropbox while keeping the files on the correct location on your mac!

The Problem

While uploading files in Dropbox, you usually place them in your Dropbox folder, so that they are automatically uploaded and synced. But that’s a mess for a lot of people like me, because we want to keep everything organized in the right folders on or computers! For example, say I want to sync in Dropbox subfolder of my Documents folder. To do so, I’d need to MOVE the folder from Documents to Dropbox and I don’t what it, ’cause I want to keep everything organized as usual on my mac.


That’s where I can use a symbolic link to do the trick and leave  everything where it’s meant to be! In fact, you can place symbolic links in your Dropbox folder. This is a great way to backup directories while maintaining the local file structure you desire. As a bonus, the green checkmarks won’t display on items backed up in this manner, though they will show up on other computers.

To create a symbolic link, open Terminal, and cd into your Dropbox folder. To do this, you can write cd in terminal and then drag and drop on the terminal your Dropbox folder. Then run a command like this. This command would add a symbolic link for a folder called Test that is in your Documents folder:

ln -s ~/Documents/Test

Generally, you can always use drag and drop to do this kind of staff. Therefore, you can, for example, write in the terminal:

ln -s

And then drag and drop the folder you want to create a symbolic link for! Using symbolic links allows you to add items to your Dropbox folder yet leave them in their “correct” location. So you could, for example, put your entire Documents folder in your Dropbox folder – if you have enough space – yet leave it in its standard location in your home folder.

To make things even simpler you can use a menu add-on like SymbolicLinker! It’s free and it will add a new entry in the contextual menu, when you right click on a file in your Finder 😉
After creating a link in that way, you can just cut it and paste it in your dropbox folder, wherever you want. It will work and the folder will start to Sync with dropbox!

Also, if you want to back up, say, your Documents folder to Dropbox in this manner, the backup won’t take up any extra physical space in the Dropbox folder on your Mac. Because it’s not going to be duplicated! 😉