Dropbox for macOS To Stop Supporting External Drives

BY Dave Johnson

Published 15 Feb 2023

Dropbox for macOS

According to a recent report, Dropbox for macOS will no longer allow users to store their Dropbox folder on external disks. 

In March 2022, Apple discontinued an old extension that cloud services such as Dropbox used with macOS Monterey 12.3 and replaced it with a new API. As a result, users of Dropbox for macOS experienced several compatibility issues. 

For example, users reported that roughly 95 percent of their Dropbox folders went missing after updating from Big Sur. Also, the San Francisco-based file hosting service warned that its macOS app would lose some functionality. 

The good news is rolling out a new Dropbox version that works with the latest macOS API fixes some of these compatibility issues. 

“The latest version of Dropbox for macOS utilizes Apple’s updated File Provider API and fixes issues related to opening online-only files in third-party applications for users on macOS 12.5 or higher,” says the company. “This updated experience is more integrated with macOS and comes with some changes that are consistent with macOS requirements.”

Unfortunately, the update also imposes a more permanent limitation on the cloud hosting app for macOS users. For instance, users will no longer be able to store their Dropbox folder on external disks. 

Here’s why. 

How New API Limits Dropbox for macOS

The current Dropbox version allows users to store their files on external storage conveniently. However, that’s no longer the case with the new macOS API. That’s because all content from cloud apps on macOS must now be moved to ~/Library/CloudStorage to protect user privacy. 

Expectedly, news of the limitation upsets several Dropbox for Mac users. 

A user asked: “So what will happen – if we have a Dropbox folder on an 8TB drive and a tiny internal drive – will it try to clone stuff across and eat up the space?” A company representative confirmed nothing could be done due to the macOS limitation. 

Other limitations include the following: 

  • Your Dropbox folder in Finder will now be found under Locations instead of Favorites.
  • Searching through Finder won’t find all content in your Dropbox folder
  • Actions involving a large number of files can take longer than usual to complete
  • Certain types of files may not sync on macOS 12
  • LAN Sync is currently not supported on Dropbox for macOS
  • Some downloaded files won’t display as occupying disk space
  • Some newly added files will default to online-only

The company notes that macOS users not interested in the latest Dropbox update can still open online-only files directly in Finder.