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Desktop app stuck syncing ._ files constantly

Explorer | Level 3

Hi all,


Lately, I had problems with my external hard drive and syncing files, and I suspect it had to do with my hard drive as I am having other non-dropbox related problems with it. I decided to purchase another external hard drive (Western Digital Easystore) and start from scratch in hopes that I wouldn't have any syncing issues. I formatted it to exFat because I read that it's good to use that when dealing with files over 4gb, and I potentially will have that as I'm starting to work with large video files.


I think I've been able to add all of my dropbox files to my new external hard drive, but it's been stuck for a couple days on syncing what seem to be files all beginning with "._" and I don't know how to stop it. I don't plan on moving this external hard drive with other computers, and I'm wondering if I can just maybe delete all of those dropbox files that have a "._" without any negative consequences in order to stop having it stuck on syncing. I've included screenshots below.


Any help would be appreciated!


Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 9.33.31 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 9.33.37 PM.png






3 Replies

Re: syncing ._ files

Super User

Hi @cizz13, the dot underscore files are MacOS system files. They are created on hard drives formatted with a type that does not support extended file attributes. Generally, they are hidden system files. I think, if you format your hard drive with Apple Extended (HFS+) or APFS type, you won't see these files. Note that HFS+ or APFS are not compatible with Windows or Linux. If you are not planning to use the hard drive with Windows/Linux, that is a not an issue. Generally, if you delete dot underscore files, you don't loose the real data, but you might loose some icons, for sometimes creation/edit dates. Also, Time Machine backup keeps record of which files to copy during next backup etc. You can clean the dot underscore files using following command in the Terminal: 


dot_clean /Volumes/MyExtHD/Dropbox

Change the path as applicable in your case. Unfortunately, you cannot avoid creating them, they will be re-created next time you access the drive. Probably, formatting your hard drive to native Apple Extended HFS+ is the only way to avoid them. Before you format, please quit Dropbox, make a backup of your data and proceed. 


I guess, the "Can't sync (access denied)" error is because the files are being used by MacOS and Dropbox cannot update them. You may delete those files from Dropbox web to complete the sync. 


Re: syncing ._ files

Explorer | Level 3

Thanks for the reply. I don't mind having them if I'm supposed to have them. I just want it to stop trying to sync these files and being stuck on it. Do you think I should delete the existing ones, and then when they automatically get recreated, that it'll sync properly?


Re: syncing ._ files

Super User

I think you can delete the existing dot underscore files. First, check if you can delete the dot underscore from Dropbox web. Otherwise, you may use the command I mentioned in my previous post to delete them from hard disc. You may also unhide the hidden system files, and manually delete those dot underscore files. You can unhide the system files using following command in the Terminal


defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES

Hold the Option/Alt key and click the finder, and choose Relaunch. To hide the system files agian: 


defaults write AppleShowAllFiles NO

Keep us posted if that solves the issue. 

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Desktop app stuck syncing ._ files constantly
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