Did you update your Dropbox client yet (Mac)?

I was prompted to update my Dropbox client on Mac and I had a weird feeling about it. They change the location to the library and make it a package format. This discussion shows that people are unhappy with it. Obviously it‘s not possible to store your dropbox files on an external drive anymore. I don‘t do that anyway, but maybe I want to keep that possibility? Also I wonder how easy it will be to restore files from a timemachine backup, if the files are stored in a package in the library instead of being just a normal finder folder. My old Dropbox client works well even on Ventura and an M1 machine, so I wonder if I should update?


This sounds a significant change. As a massive Dropbox user it is a worry. Thanks for the heads up.


I’ve had no problems with the upgrade.

My understanding is that Dropbox changing, as are other Cloud sync services (Google Gdrive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc), to conform to Apple’s instructions/standard/wish/?. I can’t find a reference link for that understanding, so take it with a grain of salt.


I’ve set all the folders to be “offline”, they all appear as accessible files in ~/Library/CloudStorage/Dropbox/.

A “package” is simply a macOS Finder thing about how to display folders and files that do exist but are displayed in the Finder app as a “file”. Check this for yourself by looking at the Dropbox folder in a Terminal.

I’ve done some testing with restore with TimeMachine and don’t notice any problems–does not mean of course there are not any problems. Nothing in the above FAQ that I see mentions TimeMachine backups/restores won’t work anymore. I also backup the Dropbox Folder (and new Gdrive folder) with Carbon Copy Capture and appears to work fine.

Your mileage may differ.


Another reason I’m glad I’ve switched to nextcloud for storage and file sharing :slight_smile:

Is this the sort of thing you are remembering?


Yep. Thanks. (pad pad pad pad for 20 char)

This. Apple is deciding how Cloud storage services should be integrated into macOS, iOS and iPadOS, and very probably are putting restrictions that are based on Apples own iCloud capabilities. Dropbox is only following suit, I’m afraid. The victim here is Dropbox libraries on external drives. Which, as far as I know, has never been posible with iCloud Drive. Surprise!

I have noticed no restrictions. Could you please elaborate on what you believe?

Thanks for your clarifications. Dropbox states that their changes are due to new restrictions of MacOS. But users in that discussion I linked insist on other cloud services still supporting external drives. And the old app still works. But maybe this affects changes that aren‘t in full effect yet? Dropbox’ communication in that discussion is pretty poor, which contributes to the impression that this new version is somehow dubious.
But for myself I don‘t rely on external folders (yet) and if the new file location can be accessed via Time Machine I‘m fine. At least if it doesn‘t break Scrivener syncing, because that‘s my main reason for using Dropbox.

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If using the free Dropbox account with Scrivener, please check it works for you. I have a paid account as i need the extra space but befor I upgraded i had trouble on iOS to get a Scrivener initiated sync. i did not debug “scientifically” in steps but saw no problem after upgrading my account to paid. This might be a red herring but I thought I would mention it. Not mentioned on Scrivener forums that I noticed. IOS Dropbox software of course different that macOS versions. I have no knowledge of server database structures.

Otherwise all working well here by me any my colleagues.

Was that a recent problem? There used to be a terrible and long going bug after an iOS update a few years ago that totally broke syncing Scrivener with iOS, but that is fortunately fixed by now.
But the reason Scrivener is relying on Dropbox instead of iCloud has to do with the packaging format. I‘m no expert on that, but somehow only Dropbox allows them to sync separately the different files their own file format is based on. Their system is meticulously tracking changes and making sure nothing gets lost. As far as I understand, only the Dropbox API makes this possible. So, if Dropbox is making substantial changes to their handling of files there really could be a risk of Scriveners sync breaking.

It may not have been an issue. just noticed in passing. Was not in techy mode but writing/collaboration mode. Perhaps ask on Scrivener forum for experience. better experts there.

Yes as I understand Scrivener using API that is best and only provided by Dropbox for IOS sync.

I found a discussion on this in the Lit&Lat forum, where no problems were reported yet. Will hesitate a little more, but it looks like it‘s fine.

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Over the years, I’ve slowly moved everything out of dropbox and stopped paying for it. I think I still have an account for the odd file I need to share (and IFTTT, but even that’s been deprecated for my needs by using iCloud files and Hazel).

This change seems to make it seem like I got out at a good time.

It’s a bummer, too, because Dropbox was an app and a service I’ve used since the early, early days, and I kind of thought I’d always have a need for it.

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Have you ever discovered a reason why Apple requires you to have a drive equal to, or larger than, the amount of data in your iCloud Drive? It appears to be nothing more than a way to force customers to pay for additional internal storage. If they are now requiring the same of Dropbox that seems to reinforce my theory.

I prefer to set up my personal computers like the servers I used to manage. OS and minimum data on the boot drive. So I keep everything possible on external drives, music, photos, movies, etc. and currently my synced Google Drive data.

Google rolled out a replacement for “Backup and Sync” about a year ago so AFAIK they have no plan to remove the use of external drives.

This is the restriction I was mentioning, @rms, it seems that the newer system-level frameworks provided by Apple do not support external storage.

On a purely speculative basis, I agree with @WayneG. I think that Apple never bothered to allow external iCloud storage in order to sell more expensive internal storage. Don’t want to pay through the nose? Well, Apple provides the feature of “automatically optimizing your hard disk space” --which we all know it’s not exactly predictable. And now they are forcing other devs to do the same.

Perhaps there are technical requirements that are important in Apple’s grand scheme of things, but I believe this is a downgrade in the choice Apple customers have, and perhaps this should be examined by some competition regulator although I would suppose Dropbox would have their legal teams already filling the paperwork if there was a case.

But not even Google owns macOS internal frameworks and APIs. So when the time comes, either Google will not support future macOS releases or will do as Dropbox is doing.

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True, unless they have a workaround. I don’t depend on any Mac only applications so if the day comes when I can’t keep my cloud data on an external drive it will be time to change operating systems.

Perhaps this has been shared on this thread, but I think this technical post by Microsoft sums it up well.

The TLDR; is “File Provider does not support storing the sync root in anything but the home drive, but we did all of these hoops and loops in order to make it work”. I think Microsoft is being aggresive here and it seems that they are piggybacking on top of File Provider to also store a mirror of the data on an external drive. How they keep that external drive data synced with the CloudStorage location folder from File Provider is a mistery to me but seems pretty difficult to achieve, so kudos to Microsoft for the workaround. Still they did not got away without user backslash.

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Given that the iCloud Default is “keep everything in the cloud and only download what we think the user needs on this machine,” I don’t think they’re using this trying to get people to buy bigger internal drives (more iCloud storage, sure, but not more SSD).

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Maybe I’m being too cynical about Apple‘s motives. But “keep everything in the cloud” means files that aren’t on your drive aren’t being backed up. And that’s not doing anyone any favors.

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