macOS 12.3 changes affecting DropBox and OneDrive

People seem to be upset about changes coming in macOS 12.3 that will affect the way these services work (see link below). But I don’t understand what is happening. If I have a OneDrive folder that is always downloaded, it will no longer work that way?

From the OneDrive link you posted:

macOS 12.2 will be the last version that supports the classic Files On-Demand experience. For future macOS versions, this means:

  • Files On-Demand will default to on for all users and cannot be disabled.

So yes, you will no longer be able to opt out of Files On-Demand (the feature that offloads/downloads files as you need them, or something like that).

Personally, I hate Files On-Demand, so I’m glad this workaround will exist:

A standard feature of Files On-Demand on all our platforms is the ability to mark files as “Always Keep on This Device.” Internally, we call this operation “pinning.”

thumbnail image 2 of blog post titled                                                                            Inside the new Files On-Demand Experience on macOS

When a file is pinned, it is downloaded to disk and is always available offline, even if there is no network connection. The presence of the check mark icon indicates that a file is in this state. Folders can also be pinned, which means that all files and folders underneath the folder will inherit the state, and new files added to that folder will also inherit the state.

So theoretically you could pin everything in the top-level of your OneDrive folder and it will have everything downloaded all the time, as if you didn’t have Files On-Demand turned on.


Ok, that’s what I didn’t understand. I want downloaded files. Why is Apple breaking this exactly? Is it a security thing? Are they pushing something to give iCloud an advantage?

Not sure. I think the new APIs OneDrive is switching to are probably more secure/easy to use/easy to maintain/etc. But how that connects to Files On-Demand, I have no idea.

It probably makes it easier for Apple to ensure cross-product compatibility with iOS. Let’s face it, Apple is in a position to push through a change like this, so that’s what they are doing. It means I will refrain from upgrading to 12.3 until at least oneDrive (which we must use at work) has an update out and the impact is fully understood.

#notetoself check pCkoud, AdobeCC and Maestral developments as well

I was already rethinking my cloud storage strategy, because I don’t want the OS deciding which files to keep local and also for local backups you need files to be downloaded. I have had many issues with the on demand files in the past and for that reason disabled optimize storage for iCloud.

It seems OneDrive and Dropbox are being pushed (as was expected) in the same direction as iCloud, with some of the same ‘limitations’.

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My guess is all these services will have the same limitations in the near future. Although pCloud uses a different mechanism, by default it mounts a virtual drive with a limited size (cache drive) to store files you open or want to keep local. pCloud also provides a way to sync a local folder, I’m curious if this will keep working.


Hi All - Quick Question about all this …

I understand that the change is to be for the online only files - and I am OK with that… but what about the selective sync?? Meaning folders in dropbox that I use for storage etc that I don’t even want to see on my computer at all… those will not automatically download, right? I can still have 3 TB in dropbox and only the folders I select will download ??


You can with OneDrive (I’m on the early access train) so assume DropBox will be the same.

With OneDrive this is still possible and I assume this will be possible in the future with both OneDrive and Dropbox. The change impacts the way Smart Sync works as far as I know, it looks like Smart Sync could still be made possible in future versions, but Dropbox probably needs to do some updates.

One possible workaround is using an app like CloudMounter, which I’m currently trialing with good results so far, or Mountain Duck or ExpanDrive or Transmit. This method is far from perfect, but has a number of advantages over the each-service-has-its-own-app approach. (This won’t work with services like Sync or Filen that have E2E encryption, I should note; on the other hand, some of these apps have their own encryption capabilities, which can make it safer to use cloud services which don’t do E2E.)

So what ARE these changes in MacOS?
Are there any, or are these services just pointing the finger at someone else…?

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If Dropbox and OneDrive are forced to use the File Provider Extensions it makes sense all other tools used for syncing will be expected to do the same. Apple has been guiding in this direction for some time now.

Apple is pushing towards the File Provider Extensions, and has been for some time now. These services could have known (and probably did) that this was going to happen at some point, they should have been ready.

I don’t know. It will give OneDrive (and possibly DropBox) one of the disadvantages of iCloud. According to Microsoft we will no longer be able sync to external storage.

With the new Files On-Demand experience, the sync root is always located within users’ home directory, in a path such as:


So for some, once they upgrade to 12.3, this means they will probably need to purchase new Macs with greater internal storage

The tools I mention mount the cloud storage sources as separate “drives” rather than performing actual sync. I honestly don’t know if this admittedly long-anticipated Apple change affects these apps’ methods at all, much less in the same way that it affects the dedicated sync apps for Dropbox, OneDrive, et al. (To be sure, the “drive-mounting” apps’ websites aren’t saying so, based on my recent research while I was trying to decide which to try.)

Alfred is no longer finding files on OneDrive, at least on my machine. So I guess Spotlight is no longer scanning it.

This is really messing up my workflows.

I’m not familiar with these tools, but if they mount the cloud service then it may not be an issue. I guess tools like Fuse keep working, which is mostly used when creating virtual file systems.

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I do not think this is the case, because iCloud still does not have all features included with OneDrive or Dropbox.