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Dropbox won't be able to sync to external drives on macOS

Dropbox losing functionality on macOS

An update to macOS and how Apple's File Provider API works will soon force apps like Dropbox to end support for external drives.

Some Dropbox users have encountered issues with their external drive setup on Macs running macOS Ventura. This is due to a change to Apple's File Provider API that will require cloud storage providers to place system files within ~/Library/CloudStorage.

This Dropbox update has come as a surprise to users that rely upon local external storage for projects stored and synced with Dropbox. One user on the Dropbox forums describes the change as a "showstopper," stating the team will have to find a new service.

It isn't clear how this change will affect other third-party cloud storage providers. Any app that uses Apple's File Provider API will have to adopt the new system folder.

Dropbox shared the following details about how Apple's API changes affect users.

  • Changing the location of your Dropbox folder is no longer supported by macOS.
  • Due to the change of the Dropbox folder location, files that were previously linked in some third-party applications will need to be linked again.
  • Storing your Dropbox folder on an external drive is no longer supported by macOS.
  • Your Dropbox folder in Finder will now be found under Locations and no longer under Favorites.
  • Individual folders can be moved from your Dropbox folder to Favorites for quick access.

The update will install automatically, and it can't be avoided. Users will be moved to the new version of Dropbox upon an app restart.