Clarifications on Dropbox integration with Office Online


Over the past month, we've spoken to many customers regarding our newly released Dropbox integration for Office Online.

The Office announcement blog HERE does a great job of illustrating what the integration does and how it works.

However, our customers brought up some very valid concerns regarding the integration. So we wanted to quell some of the misconceptions and tell you what it can't do, as it's easy to make assumptions about how it all works.

First, let's address the question/concern everyone seems to have. There is no mechanism for users to save Office 365 hosted documents directly to Dropbox via Office Online. The only way this could conceivably happen is if the user saves the document to their local machine and then manually uploads it to Dropbox. It should be noted that saving the document locally with Office Online was always possible, even before Dropbox was in the picture.

Next, let's delve a bit deeper into how Office Online decides where to save the document, and how that relates to the Dropbox integration.

If you're interested in the deeper technical side of how Office Online determines where to save a document, please reference my other blog on the subject HERE. If not, skip ahead to the next paragraph for a high overview.

From a high level, here are the major points to keep in mind when discussing Dropbox integration.

1. If a user is accessing an Office 365 service which is able to utilize Office Online (OneDrive for Business/SharePoint Online/etc.) there is no mechanism in Office Online which allows you to save a document directly to Dropbox. This is because Office Online knows where the document came from, therefore it will try to save it back to that location. The availability of Dropbox integration elsewhere doesn't change this behavior. Please see the screenshot below from Word Online. With Word Online, saving happens automatically in the background, Save As contains no options for Dropbox. Also notice that the default navigation option is set to my OneDrive for Business site by default.

2. The same goes for the inverse scenario. If a user is accessing their Dropbox library, and they open a document for editing, there is no mechanism in Office Online which allows you to save a document directly to Office 365. Again, because Office Online knows where the document came from, it will save it automatically back to that location.  Notice the default location below when opening from Dropbox.

3. The only scenario available where Office Online doesn't have an established default save location is through https://office.live.com. In this instance there is a dropdown menu at the top of the screen which lets you establish a default save location, OneDrive or Dropbox. Once you've chosen where the document will go, the options for saving the file will lock in the same way as if you had opened it from that location. PLEASE NOTE: If you are signed in to office.live.com with a personal Microsoft account, documents will be saved to your PERSONAL OneDrive. If you are signed in with a work/organization/school account, documents will be saved to your OFFICE 365 OneDrive for Business. The dropdown menu will reflect what type of account you're logged in with. Please see screenshots below.

Signed in with a personal Live ID:

Signed in with an Office 365 organization ID:

4. As far as the messaging regarding the availability of Dropbox is concerned, at this time there is no way to turn the messaging off for your tenancy.  The Office Online product group's current position is that they won't be providing any mechanism to turn the messaging off.  Simply clicking "Got it" will close the message and it will never return for that user.

As always, feedback is welcomed and encouraged in the comments below.

EDIT 7/10/15:

Due to customer feedback The Office Web Apps product group has removed the ability to open documents from Dropbox from office.live.com if you are signed in with a work/school account.

Please see the screenshot below where a user is signed in with a work/school account. The Dropbox integration is unchanged if you are logged in with a personal Microsoft account.

Comments (5)

  1. Catarina says:

    Does this mean I have no longer the possibility to upload my files from dropbox?

  2. TripleGate says:

    This is totally awful. The only reason I subscribed to Office 365, because it was linked w Dropbox.

    Btw, I havent seen the option to save files on my hard drive either!

  3. TripleGate says:

    This is totally awful. The only reason I subscribed to Office 365, because it was linked w Dropbox.

    Btw, I havent seen the option to save files on my hard drive either!

  4. TripleGate says:

    Why can’t you allow the admin to toggle this function? If someone doesn’t want to use Dropbox, just disable the +Add Places.

  5. edwinksl says:

    What is the rationale behind removing "the ability to open documents from Dropbox from office.live.com if you are signed in with a work/school account"?

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