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Dropbox downloads files set to online only when browsing to Dropbox folder via an app on Mac

Explorer | Level 4

The Smart Sync option is brilliant - a list of all the files in Dropbox, but only selected files are downloaded. 

I noticed that when I open a file from within an app, this morning it was Taskpaper, and browse to the Dropbox folder, Dropbox seems to think that I'm attempting to open all the files within the folder, and starts to download random files. Eventually this will result in many unwanted files downloaded onto my hard drive. 

This seems like a bug to me - or is it designed to work like this?

Does anyone else notice this behavior?

6 Replies

Re: Dropbox downloads files set to online only when browsing to Dropbox folder via an app on Mac

Dropboxer
Hi there @t_hayash, glad to hear that you enjoy using Smart Sync!
 
As for your main concern, please note that there may be processes on your computer that look at files which haven’t been manually opened and to fulfill these requests, Dropbox syncs them. Such examples are backup services, antivirus, recently used file lists, and any other 3rd party app that generally monitors content.
 
Although you should be able to turn local files into online-only by selecting the relevant option after right-clicking, if there are apps that constantly look at your files, they may come back, just as you describe. 
 
For this reason, give a few tests a try by temporarily/systematically quitting or disabling apps until you see that the issue is resolved. The last app you closed when the issue no longer occurred may be the one causing this behavior.
 
Let me know what you find!

Lusil
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
https://dropbox.com/support


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Re: Dropbox downloads files set to online only when browsing to Dropbox folder via an app on Mac

Explorer | Level 4

Thanks for the quick reply - files are being downloaded when I choose, on a Mac, "Open" from the file menu. As soon as I start browsing the Dropbox folder on my mac, I start to get notifications that files are being downloaded/synced. It seems that as soon as I start the File/Open dialog box, Dropbox thinks that those files are being opened, not just listed. This has happened in Adobe Premiere, Taskpaper, DevonthinkPro today. The solution has been to open the file that I need, and then pause Dropbox syncing once the Open dialog box is finished, and then restart syncing. If you ask me, Dropbox shouldn't do this until the file is actually being opened.

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Re: Dropbox downloads files set to online only when browsing to Dropbox folder via an app on Mac

Dropboxer
Thanks for getting back to me, @t_hayash
 
When you select to Open a file, the app that you’re using requires access to the files in that path so the Dropbox desktop app doesn’t know in advance which file you’re going to select. To facilitate the process then, it downloads the files in the path. 
 
If this behavior is to be disabled, you’d most likely get syncing or file errors, as the file isn’t completely locally available for it to be used or accessed. 
 
I hope this helps clarify matters to some extent!

Lusil
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
https://dropbox.com/support


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Re: Dropbox downloads files set to online only when browsing to Dropbox folder via an app on Mac

Explorer | Level 4

Hi - thanks - this definitely clarifies that the behavior is by design, not by accident. I think it's a problem, though. If I'm browsing for a file in the dropbox folder and if I take my time and do this many times a day/week/month, eventually all sorts of random files will have downloaded themselves to my hard drive. Since I'm also not able to sort in the finder based on "local" or "cloud" files, it's a manual process to switch the unwanted files back to the cloud. 

Does this make sense?

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Re: Dropbox downloads files set to online only when browsing to Dropbox folder via an app on Mac

Star Collaborator | Level 18

Hi @t_hayash,

Your rhetorical question is on place.winking face Yes - this doesn't make sense!

Hi @Lusil,

Many people ask for same thing from long time. You know that better than me. It's normally - different programs while prepare file list to show particular file type(s), in addition to file extension, 'magic' number/sequence is also used to select proper type(s). In most of the cases such magic number are just first 4 bytes from the file. Of course, there are other cases - script type is identified by the first text line (when start with '#!'), for example. Also more complex case would require data pieces from different file points. But in all cases - the file data, needed in advance, are small subset from all file's data! It should be no so hard, particular file not to be fetched in advance, but content to be buffered on query (distinct read operation) from a third party application on small pieces and only needed pieces (for example allign to drive sector or something like). In such case everything will happens much more fast and intuitive and most important - according to customer's requirements (not only in the current thread)! There are enough APIs for this on all supported platforms.

@Lusil, You can decide if the above have to be qualified as good proposal for future enhancements.

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Re: Dropbox downloads files set to online only when browsing to Dropbox folder via an app on Mac

Dropboxer
Of course, I’d be more than happy to pass these comments along to the dev team for future consideration! Rainbow
 
Let me know if there’s anything else I can assist with and, in the meantime, have a lovely day ahead @t_hayash and @Здравко

Lusil
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
https://dropbox.com/support


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Dropbox downloads files set to online only when browsing to Dropbox folder via an app on Mac
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