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Mac aliases within Dropbox used to work on all shared devices, but not anymore

New member | Level 2

I set up a Dropbox folder that is shared between myself and other person. It has a lot of layers of folders inside, so I've used a bunch of aliases so the other person can find things no matter what logic they use. For example, a spreadsheet related to the property insurance for a ranch lives in...

    Accounts > Insurance > Property Insurance > Ranch

But I have an alias to this spreadsheet in...

    Spreadsheets > Annual

And an alias to its parent folder in...

    Properties > Ranch > Accounts


When I first started setting this all up, I had the other person go into their computer and into these shared folders to make sure all the aliases worked once they synced through Dropbox to his machine — and they did. In fact, Dropbox was the only cloud service I found that correctly retained the link between an alias and its target when synced to another computer. It's literally the reason we chose Dropbox for this project.

BUT, once I got the whole folder tree set up and synced to the other person's computer, now none of the aliases work for him any more.

Am I missing something here?

1 Reply

Re: Mac aliases within Dropbox used to work on all shared devices, but not anymore


Hey there @Robio - welcome to our Community!

At first, could you let me know more about the other person's setup and if they're getting any specific errors? If they do, could you forward me a screenshot so I can have a better look into this? Are you both using the desktop application by the way? Could you let me know what the desktop app reports for both of you? 

Based on your description, it sounds like you have some folders or files that have been symlinked to your Dropbox. Symbolic links, Junction Points, or "symlinks", occur when folders are added to Dropbox that reference directories outside of the Dropbox folder or inside of the Dropbox folder but in a different folder. Because these symlinks may reference locations where Dropbox may have limited accessibility, they can cause various issues. High CPU usage, poor syncing performance, permissions issues and quota usage disparities are a few of the problems that often come up when symlinks are added to the Dropbox folder.

To determine if there are indeed symlinks in your account, you need to:

  • Open your Terminal app (Located at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal). You can also search for "Terminal" using the magnifying glass at the top of your screen
  • Copy and paste the following line into the Terminal:
find ~/Dropbox -type l -exec ls -lah {} \;

This should give you a list of symlinks in your Dropbox folder and where they point to. The list the command provides shows you the full file path to every symlink in your account.

We ususally recommend removing these symlinks from your Dropbox account. You can do that by following the file paths that are provided when you run the command I provided above and remove the files in your Dropbox folder by dragging them elsewhere on your computer (if you don't want them deleted). After you've removed all of the symlinks you can identify from the Terminal command, please quit Terminal, open it again, and run the command again to ensure that no symlinks remain in your Dropbox folder.

More information on this can be found here:

Specifically take a look at step 7 where it outlines the issues symlinks can cause and how to remove them. 

Let me know how it goes! 


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Mac aliases within Dropbox used to work on all shared devices, but not anymore
1 Reply