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We need a warning messages for invalid character filenames.

We need a warning messages for invalid character filenames.

Helpful | Level 6


User creates a file named "foo/bar?.txt" in MacOS (? is an invalid character in windows). Under windows the file will not download and the folder appears to be empty. The user can try to move or delete the folder but the folder re-appears after a few seconds. 



Invalid cahracter in filename (:? etc.). 

I understand that there is a check that can be done for these invalid filenames via:



Provide the user with a warning that some files could not be downloaded due to incompatable filenames. Provide an automatic resolution, removing the invalid characters. Example: get_valid_filename(line 229) django file utils git

Helpful | Level 6

Just to reiterate I am aware that this is a known issue (, but I believe that there should be an option for automatic resolution.

Super User II



There should absolutely not be an automatic resolution for this. Nothing is broken here. Dropbox should never automatically modify a user's file to fix a problem. If a user names a file a specific way, even with characters that would be considered illeagal on a specific OS, they likely have a reason for doing so and Dropbox should not act as though it knows better.


I have both Mac and Windows, and I have files in Dropbox that have characters in their name that are considered illegal on Windows, so those files do not sync. There's nothing wrong with the files being named as they are. They're named as such for a reason, and if Dropbox were to "fix" them by removing illegal characters, they would end up breaking something else. The fact that they won't sync to a Windows computer is of no concern to me (in fact, I count on it).


Dropbox already provides the perfect solution for this; a utility to notify you if you have "bad" files that potentially won't sync properly. It's not up to them to "fix" a file name that isn't broken.

Helpful | Level 6

Hi Rich.


First, I agree that modification should not be done to a users files without user knowledge or consent and in my second post I reiterated that there should be an "option for automatic resolution".


For your point "Nothing is broken here." I would disagree. Look in my exaple case I outline the behaviour with folders when there is a file with an invalid name in it. As well when you have files with invalid characters there is no indication to the user that something is wrong, the only status is  ":white_check_mark: Everything is up to date". 


Also the "perfect solution" you refrenced was mentioned in my posts. It is not a solution at all. It only shows that Dropbox is aware of this issue but has only provided the user with the means to manually edit the name of each of the affected files. 


Helpful | Level 6

A real solution would (roughly) be:


  1.  In the dropbox sync status display "Some files could not be downloaded due to invalid filenames, click here for more info"
  2. Takes you to the Dropbox Web UI, to a page similar to
  3. Allow the user to select a subset of these files via checkboxes (or shift+click, shift+arrow key etc.)
  4. Show a preview for the filename translation
  5. Execute  
New member | Level 2

I absolutely agree with Ricko. I've just been bitten by this and wasted far too much time working out why my "complete" (i.e., not Selective Sync'd) copy of Dropbox on my PC was actually far from complete. Simply having an option on the bad_files_check page to replace all the invalid characters with a '-' would be good enough for me.


For now I wrote a quick-and-dirty Python script on my Mac to rename all the bad files.

Explorer | Level 3

Hi all,


I'm right in the middle of a nightmare of dropbox migration, all because of illegal characters caused by Mac users going crazy with bad naming.


You are not quite right about dropbox not fixing stuff without asking, example:


If you have a folder called "Customers " (yes, with the space at the end) it will be renamed "Customers" as soon as the dropbox client grabs it. This causes a "final copy of changed files from old file server" a disaster since it will think that the folder "Customers " does no longer exist.


But, this isn't the biggest issue here. The old file server contains a lot of files which seem to come from some kind of media database where all folders have correct names, but the file names are by standard "media\1234.jpg" (yes, the \ is a part of the file name). These files will stay silent in the local dropbox folders and the dropbox client says everything is fine. It will not get uploaded to dropbox, and the only way to tell it's not working is to go down to the files and see the "red cross" on them.


As some of ppl the above says, i would really like an option to allow dropbox to change names to "standard characters" or at least some good way to list files not liked by dropbox.



This idea is going to need a bit more support.

We've updated the status to encourage more users to back you up!

Status changed to: Needs more votes
Helpful | Level 5

This morning Dropbox gave me a heart attack. I copied a folder - that had been created in MacOS - out of Dropbox then deleted it in Windows. The files I needed today were missing. Undeleted the folder, the files were there. As it turned out, "." character was used in a subfolder name, and this is invalid in Windows.


What is outrageous, that Dropbox simply ignores this, gives absolutely no notification, reports that everything is synced and OK.


Now tried different cloud storages, OneDrive gives an error notification and refuses to upload, Google Drive changes the "." to "_"without asking. Neither perfect but better than nothing.


This is not good. Do something with it. You're supposed to be the good example, don't disappoint me.

Explorer | Level 4

I couldn't think of a better subject line, but just that. If I, on a Mac, name a file with a / or ", etc., it simply won't show up for people using the Dropbox app on a Windows machine. There's no warning or anything on my end, and since the file's not viewable for the Windows person, it causes a LOT of confusion. Maybe just rename it to something compatible with Windows? Or give a warning on Mac? Not sure what the solution is, but we at least need visibility, because this happens all the time, and people don't remember the Windows non-compatible characters.


Thank you for your idea, while we can’t take every idea forward we do regularly re-review and will update you if anything changes!

Status changed to: Not for right now
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9 votes received Status: Not for right now