How to create a download link for a file on Dropbox – or anywhere else

How to create a download link for a file on DropBox

2 DropBox tips and tricks here.

  • Force a DropBox link to download immediately
  • The second to force a DropBox link to render in the browser if its technically possible to do so within that Browser.

We use this for a lot things; sharing encoded video files for approval with clients, sharing final cut project files or encoded streaming video files at the end of the day at a webcast, etc. When we’re webcasting or planning a webcast we are getting and sending DropBox files around all the time. PowerPoints for the Webcast, the Webcast bumper videos, webcast templates, Live webcast video format specs. Townhall webcast agendas, etc.

This little bit of url editing will let me create a link that will automatically force a download. This is great for making it super simple for someone you want to share a file with and you don’t need or want them poking around in your files.

You can also force the file to render in the browser. Sometimes the type of file is capable of rendering in a browser immediately but due to the other person’s setup, browser, settings, apps, etc. There could be a complication preventing that from happening easily. This is handy for, let’s say an image you want someone to see without hassle. Then they can choose to “Save” the file from their browser.

Let’s first  look at forcing a DROPBOX link to Download

Force a Dropbox file (or a folder) to download

First Put a file in your DropBox. If you had Dropbox in early 2012 you may still have the “Public Folder” which they discontinued. IF not, just put your file somewhere in your Dropbox synced folders.

You can modify the URL to force the browser to download the DropBox file, rather than try to handle it in the browser. 
To force a file download:
– Replace:  www with dl (same as the Force Render trick below)
– Append the link with ?dl=1. (That’s Question mark dee ell equals one) no space before the “?”
For example this URL:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/xttkmuvu7hh72vu/MyFile.pdf
(Note that this URL begins with dl.dropboxusercontent.com, as this has been edited according to the Force Render in Browser note above. Any fresh URL would say http://www or some such. You need to perform the same replacement of the www with the dl
Becomes this URL:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/xttkmuvu7hh72vu/MyFile.pdf?dl=1
Enter the new URL in the address bar of your browser and it should automatically download, instead of opening the file.

Now how to force a DROPBOX link to render in the browser.

How to force a linked DropBox file to render in your browser

Most web browsers can automatically detect, open, and handle many file types. For instance, clicking image links in a browser will typically open the image within the browser rather than download it to your desktop. Browser extensions or plug-ins can also add file type functionality to your browser.
To bypass the preview page and allow your browser to handle your files you need to edit your link:

– Replace:  www with dl
– Replace anddropbox with dropboxusercontent in your URL

For example:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/xttkmuvu7hh72vu/MyFile.pdf
Becomes:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/xttkmuvu7hh72vu/MyFile.pdf
That’s it. Hope it helps someone else.

Categories: downloads dropbox live webcasting