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5 Tips to Improve Dropbox Search

Roy Shaked
By Roy Shaked
Joel Taylor
Reviewed by Joel Taylor

Updated March 6, 2023.

Unleash Dropbox Search Image

If you’ve noticed a sharp increase in the number of documents created by your organization in the last few years, you’re not alone. A Microsoft study found the number of people working on Office documents increased 66% between February 2020 and February 2021. And it’s not just Microsoft—online document storage tools like Dropbox are more popular than ever as remote and hybrid work requires moving over to online collaboration. In fact, according to Dropbox, 500,000 teams are currently using their document management tool.

This increase in document use across apps comes with a few challenges, too. A study by Cornell University and Qatalog calculated that employees are spending an average of 59 minutes a day just looking for information in apps. The same study also reported that employees spend 36 minutes a day switching between tools. All of this context-switching takes a toll on productivity. The study found employees need about nine and a half minutes to get focused again after switching apps.

Employees need easier ways to find what they’re looking for faster, so they don’t have to waste so much time switching between apps and getting back in the flow. One way to do that is to take advantage of the search and organization features tools like Dropbox provide. Another is to use a tool that can simply search everything at once.

1. Create Automated Folders and Rules With Automations

Dropbox Search Screenshot

(Screenshot: Dropbox)

Dropbox released automations in 2021 for Professional, Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise plans. With Automations, organizations can create a number of rules around file naming—a feature that will be immediately attractive to anyone who’s managed a file system accessed by many users.

Trying to get an entire team of people to be consistent enough in file naming is nearly impossible. Dropbox has found a way to compensate for human error by turning file naming into more of a mini template that users fill out. The file system stays more organized, and users have to spend less time tracking down incorrectly named files.

Organizations can also automate other parts of the file management process. For example, a user could set up Dropbox Automations so that every time a zipped file is uploaded to the Dropbox account, it’s unzipped automatically and moved to a specific folder. While Dropbox Automations doesn’t directly alter Dropbox search, it can improve search accuracy. Automations could reduce the number of files that get lost or misplaced due to naming and sorting inconsistencies, lowering the time employees spend searching for files.

2. Organize Cluttered Folders With Multi-File Organize

Dropbox Search Screenshot

(Screenshot: Dropbox)

Similar to Automations, multi-file organize reduces the manual work required for file management. Automations lets you set up rules for files as they come into your Dropbox drive. Multi-file organize batch organizes an existing file system based on keywords, date, or how often it’s opened/modified.

This feature has the potential to reduce the amount of time users spend searching for documents by organizing them instantly and based on the user’s preference.

For example, say you have a large folder filled with hundreds of reports. You want to place the reports in folders organized by ‘date of creation.’ All you have to do is go to Dropbox.com. Select “Create” and then “Automated.” Name the folder, select the automations you want, and click “Create.” Multi-file organize will create the folders and sort your files into the right folder.

3. Find Pictures Quickly With Image Content Search

Dropbox Image Search

(Screenshot: Dropbox)

In an effort to make searching images as user-friendly as searching text documents, Dropbox released image content search, a feature with the ability to identify key objects in images using machine learning. Machine learning is the use of algorithms to identify patterns in data and improve software accuracy. Dropbox is leveraging this technology in an attempt to make search more intuitive, closer to the way humans think.

Imagine you’re looking for a picture of your company’s product in a natural setting to use in a presentation. You could sort through every folder you can think of that might have the shot you’re looking for. Or, if you already keep your images in Dropbox, you could do an image content search for “trees,” “hike,” “beach," etc.

A computer remembers a photo by the exact file name, but a human will remember the subject of the photo, the setting, or the emotional impact. Until recently, we’ve organized data expecting humans to learn how to search for files. Tools

like Dropbox are showing us what it looks like when software is designed to search a little bit more like humans. And the future of search is bright.

4. Ask a Team Member to Send You a Document With File Requests

Dropbox Search Screenshot

(Screenshot: Dropbox)

If you know someone has a file you’re looking for, you can simply ask them to give you a copy. This way, you don’t have to spend your precious time looking. That’s the idea behind file requests.

You can request a file in Dropbox from anyone (even if they’re not a Dropbox user) in just a few steps. If you need a file and don’t know where it is or don’t have access to it but you know who does, all you have to do is click “File Request” in the left sidebar on the web app. You’ll be prompted to enter a name and description of the file you’re looking for so the recipient has some context about your request. Next, you’ll decide the file path (where the file you’re requesting will live once it’s uploaded). And finally, you’ll enter the email of the person you’re requesting the file from.

Dropbox will send them a link that leads to an upload page where they can securely upload the file. They won’t be able to access your Dropbox account or see your files. File requests make sharing files a little simpler and easier, potentially reducing the amount of time teams spend tracking them down.

5. Unleash Multi-Platform Search

Unleash Screenshot

(Screenshot: Unleash)

These features are all great, but one core issue they can’t solve is that users can’t search for documents across tools. Files end up in email inboxes, project management tools, and employee computer hard drives.

Even with advanced Dropbox search features, employees still spend too much time looking for documents across apps. It’s time to adopt a tool that can search for everything in one place.

Unleash has the ability to connect all the important tools your team uses and any physical storage drives (like computers or onsite servers) with powerful search functionality that includes both semantic search and contextual search. Users can also search inside documents, so they don’t need to know the exact file name to locate it. With Unleash, users can search not just Dropbox, but also other file management and storage tools ( like Box and Google Drive) as well as email, collaboration apps, and project management apps.

Learn more about Unleash search features and what they can do for your organization.

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