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Re: Can't stop indexing

Won't stop indexing on Mac

New member | Level 2
Go to solution

I installed the mac dropbox update and the application began indexing my files. It has now been stuck for the last few days. I can only access some files. Many are now only available through and not in my app. If I add files to they are added to the indexing queue of the desktop app, but no progress is made regarding indexing. I've tried signing out, quitting, uninstalling, and reinstalling. I've seen similar threads, but no solutions have worked for me. Any help is much appreciated.

349 Replies 349

Sam L.11
Explorer | Level 4

@Teddy73 This exact thing happened to me-- the indexing finally ended after seeming to be stuck, I stupidly chose to switch over to the File Provider system at that point, and now it's stuck at indexing again. Even if I try to go back to the legacy file system.

Collaborator | Level 9

@Sam L.11 my advice is to let it sync for several days, ideally connect it via Ethernet, do not allow your Mac to sleep, and give it time.


I know this sounds a little ridiculous, but I tried everything, multiple times on two Macs.

Helpful | Level 6

As many have said, this is not a solution. 
I did however talk to customer service, and they had me backup my latest dropbox files, disconnect my current machine via the website and reconnect. It did fix the issue, but took nearly a week to re-sync. 

New member | Level 2


Thanks for this response. I am caught in the endless index loop. This started when I upgraded to Sonoma OS 14.0 over 2 weeks ago: the indexing has not stopped since. Today, I updated to Sonoma 14.1.1 in the hope this would fix things - but it hasn't.


You say that updating to 14.1 is part of the solution and then you advise that users contact support for further assistance. I don't seem to be able to 'contact support' on my subscription plan, so can I ask you: how on earth do I restore Dropbox to its previous functionality? Frankly, if it doesn't work, I don't really see the point of continuing to run (or pay for) it.

Many thanks!

Collaborator | Level 9

Hello again fellow Dropbox sufferers,


I have some good news to pass on. I have Dropbox working on the Mac that I used to test it on.


This is what I did and I pass this information on to help others.


  • Started with a clean install of Sonoma 14.1 on a M2 MacBook Air (I know doing an erase and clean install is a lot of work, luckily I have this spare MacBook Air to test on)
  • Did not change any system settings after the clean install
  • Logged into Dropbox via the website and downloaded the Mac app which was v186.4.6207
  • Followed the default Dropbox installation process
  • Selected to selectively sync one of my smaller folders to be "offline" (locally stored) on my Mac
  • Connected the Mac via Ethernet, disabled system settings to not allow the Mac to sleep
  • Dropbox then started "indexing" after 24 hours I thought the same stuck indexing problem was happening again, but I let it continue as I do have a lot of files in Dropbox
  • After 3 days it had stopped "indexing"
  • I then clicked on the notification to upgrade Dropbox to File Provider, it did this, my Dropbox folder was moved to the new location on my Mac and it started indexing again
  • I left it for another 2-3 days and it had finished indexing
  • I went into Dropbox settings and selected to selectively sync most of my other folders to be "offline" (locally stored) on my Mac (quite large around 500GB)
  • Dropbox started syncing, after 24 hours these folders were downloaded onto my Mac
  • Dropbox has also updated to v187.4.5691
  • After more testing, it seems everything is working as it should 


I hope this can help some of you.

Collaborator | Level 8

Hi @Teddy73  thanks a lot for posting this and being detailed really appreciate everything. If you do not mind I have a couple of questions:


Why did you do a clean install of Sonoma 14.1? Do you think that was part of the issue or you just tried to eliminate all factors?


And when you said you did not change system settings after the clean install can you explain what system settings you did not touch?


Thanks again for your help appreciate very much!

Collaborator | Level 9

Hi @OceanSunrise the reason I did a clean install was to eliminate the possibility of other software that I had installed, or system settings that I had changed, causing trouble with Dropbox.


I was also fortunate to have a MacBook Air that is my spare Mac, which I could use to test this on. 


About system settings, we all tend to make some changes, such as to privacy & security, or power management & battery. I wanted to eliminate anything that may have been causing trouble with Dropbox.


The only system settings that I changed were those below, to prevent the Mac from going to sleep mode, as I wanted it to continue indexing and syncing:


  • Battery>Low Power Mode> changed to "Never" to prevent the Mac from going into sleep mode
  • Lock Screen>Start Screen Saver when inactive> changed to "Never" to prevent the Mac from going into sleep mode
  • Lock Screen>Turn display off on power adapter when inactive> changed to "Never" to prevent the Mac from going into sleep mode


Dropbox has been working on this MacBook Air for the last 4 days and I am confident that the steps I took worked. I tried every that was mentioned in this forum and by Dropbox technical support over the last 8-9 weeks and nothing else worked. I know it is a lot of time and effort to do a clean install of MacOS, but it has worked for me, doing it the way I mentioned.


This weekend I am going to do this same clean install process on my MacBook Pro, which is my main Mac that I use for work.

Explorer | Level 4

I concur with Teddy73 about the clean reinstall of the OS being necessary. I've stood on the shoulders of many of the community trying to solve this problem for the last 6 weeks - without any useful information or support coming from DropBox - so I'll try to outline my use case and what I did to finally solve the problem.

I'm running a 2021 iMac (Apple M1 silicon). The Mac came with Ventura installed. I've happily used it with DropBox (a paid 2TB account dating back many years). The problem I believe stemmed from when DropBox prompted me to use DropBox Backup (for Documents and Desktop folders). Thinking this was a good idea to supplement my iCloud Drive syncing with my iOS devices, I enabled this and all was initially sweet. I did notice in Finder that the DropBox icon listed Documents under it but it wasn't causing any issues.  

Hell broke loose when I upgraded to Sonoma. Suddenly everything in the iCloud Documents folder stopped syncing, it would not upload. This is the problem everyone is experiencing in one form or the other. Note: Apple quietly state on their support pages “do not use 3rd party backup processes”.

I followed many ideas in this thread to attempt to solve the problem. None worked. I tried upgrading DropBox several times with no success. One DB support post gave a method to uninstall Dropbox. Tried that too; no success. I tracked back to the fact that the Documents folder is the culprit. Somehow I think there are links remaining from Dropbox that are preventing iCloud full ownership of Documents. If I move folders out of Documents to e.g. Desktop they sync OK. Move them back to Documents; no sync. 

OK time to delete and reinstall the filesystem from my TimeMachine.

I downloaded a new Sonoma installer from the Apple support pages onto a 16GB USB as a "just in case" insurance. See  Just make a bootable OS on USB as described. Stop at that point; here is why.


With Apple silicon Macs you can simply go to the System Settings > General > Transfer or Reset screen to destroy the current encryption keys and Destroy all data and settings before using Migration Assistant with Time Machine or similar to recreate your data. I gave new encryption keys to create a new filesystem (for data). THIS IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Not sure why, presumably as the OS is still there, the TM images restore my data back into the hidden claws of DropBox. So dropping encryption keys does not work.


OK: really serious now. I decided to use the Recover image to return my Mac to Factory status i.e. with the Ventura OS it came with. Then I can do a clean install of Sonoma and Migrate My Data from TM. NOTE: This should work on all Macs, Intel or Apple Silicon.

Back to the macaws article linked above. Skip over the first part of "Erase your boot drive" until you find the process for rebooting into Recovery Mode. Do that and use Disk Utility to erase your startup disk.

Once the disk is erased, you can reinstall Sonoma. Even though I had the bootable USB for this, I choose to follow the option presented to install Sonoma by directly downloading it again. This worked perfectly.

Suddenly I have my files reappearing and all syncing perfectly. Without DropBox. Life is suddenly satisfying again. Syncing does take many hours but it all comes good.

One tip: Some paid licences (eg Microsoft Office) need to revalidate your details. Make sure you have this info at hand and up to date before reinstalling. It required re-downloading Office.

Aside: I have regained over a 100GB of disk by doing this clean install. A side benefit. 

DROPBOX SUPPORT: Are you listening? I cannot believe the total lack of information or support around this whole problem. I have never encountered a worse support process for any paid product. How about some real info on a specific page. Admit you don’t know how to fix your products and tell us what you're doing about it. Too late for me, I’m cancelling my subscription as soon as I can retrieve all my info from Dropbox. I’ll extend my iCloud data subscription instead.

Collaborator | Level 8

@Teddy73  Thank you for your detailed explanation again I really appreciate it.    My question is if we do a clean reinstall of the OS I do not have any issues with that but then eventually we would modify the System Settings throughout the time we work on our Macbook so wouldn't that affect dropbox anyways?    Thanks again

Collaborator | Level 9

@OceanSunrise My experience so far, after around 6 days of using the MacBook Air that I was successful with is, after Dropbox is working normally again (finishes indexing, upgrades to File Provider, finishes indexing again) then you can make changes to System Settings. I have done this, making many changes that I normally do to many System Settings to personalise how I use my Macs. 


Also, I have installed a lot of software that I usually use and have no problems, and Dropbox is now working fine on this MacBook Air.


Yesterday I did a clean install of Sonoma 14.1.1 on my MacBook Pro (main work computer). I followed the steps I mentioned in previous posts that was successful on my MacBook Air. So far it is going as I expected. After installing it, Dropbox is indexing and I expect in around 3 days, it will finish this, then I will upgrade to File Provider, it should then index again for around 3 days and then should be working normally again 🤞


I will post an update in a few days if this was successful. If it is, as I expect (and hope) then I can be 100% certain that this work around works.

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