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Why does Dropbox ignore AppleScript request to quit?

Why does Dropbox ignore AppleScript request to quit?

TJ Luoma
Collaborator | Level 8


Any good Mac application should respond to an AppleScript request to quit as if the user had chosen 'Quit {Appname}' from the menu.


Dropbox used to do this but it no longer does. This is almost certainly not accidental, it seems much more likely to have been specifically programmed this way.


If you try either of the standard options:


osascript -e 'quit application "Dropbox"'



osascript -e 'tell application "Dropbox" to quit'


You will get an error message like this:


0:26: execution error: Dropbox got an error: User canceled. (-128)


That sort of response (“User Canceled”)  would be appropriate if, for example, the user had tried to tell a word processing application to quit, but there were unsaved documents, and before the app quit it gave the user a chance to save their files, and they chose instead not to quit the application after all.


Dropbox is not doing that at all.


In fact, it appears that Dropbox has been specifically programmed to look for these kinds of ‘quit’ requests, and immediately send back a notice saying “No! The user doesn’t want to quit.”


Which is, of course, a whole lot of bull—oney. To put it nicely.


This is just one of the many reasons why Dropbox has such a terrible reputation among knowledgeable Mac users, and why I have heard hosts on two separate extremely popular Mac podcasts talk about why they wanted to get rid of Dropbox.


Dropbox has a long history on the Mac of doing things behind the user’s back or without fully explaining to the user what it is doing (or why it needs access to functionality that it claims it needs, but works fine without).


Why is this particular example a bad idea that Dropbox's developers should undo? Because sending that sort of ‘quit’ request is the nice way to quit Dropbox. It should allow Dropbox to finish any critical tasks and exit gracefully.


What will happen when people try to quit the app nicely and find out they can’t? They’ll quit it another way, using either `pkill` or `killall` which will not give Dropbox a chance to quit nicely.


Chances are that it will be fine, in most cases. But when it comes to my data, I don’t want “chances are good that it will be fine” I want the highest level of assurance that nothing is going to be lost or corrupted.


As I said at the beginning, this did not happen accidentally. Someone decided that this is what Dropbox should do on the Mac.


I think that decision is wrong, not only because it takes away the best way to safely quit Dropbox programmatically, but also because it completely disregards (and therefore disrespects) what the user has explicitly said that they want to do. If I tell Dropbox to quit, it should quit. If I tell Dropbox to quit and it doesn’t, you’re effectively telling me that you know better than I do. Which is not only wrong, it is arrogant.


If this is not the right place to lodge this feedback, please let me know where the right place would be.


1 Reply 1

Re: Why does Dropbox ignore AppleScript request to quit?


Hi @TJ Luoma, thanks for posting today!


We value user input immensely and appreciate the feedback for the Dropbox desktop application.


If you wish, you can suggest to revert this change for others to vote on, so the dev team can look into this in future!

Community Moderator @ Dropbox

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