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Ignore folder (without selective sync)

Ignore folder (without selective sync)

Helpful | Level 6

Please please please can you add a feature that allows folders to be excluded from the Dropbox account (on windows and mac). For sure I'm not the first person to request this, but I'm yet to find a good explanation of why it's not there. A quick google search reveals loads of people also looking for the same feature. I really like the workflow I have with dropbox, but it's getting to the point where I might switch providers in order to allow better selective sync.

I've seen hackish solutions using selective sync, but it would be great if this could be done in one of the following ways:
- global pattern matching eg "node_modules"
- a marker file in the directory like .dropboxignore
- a simple right click context menu "Ignore this folder"

Other than that, keep up the good work. Cheers.

Latest Update
Community Manager

Hi folks, 


Thanks for your feedback on this.
While ignored files delivers for some of the use cases here, I appreciate it does not for all. 
We'll be taking another review of this thread to isolate use cases for a .dropboxignore file feature in particular.

I've updated the status and we'll take this to the product team.
As a side note, it would be helpful for us if you could outline the gap between what ignored files offers, and what a .dropboxignore file feature would add to your workflows.


Thank you.

Status changed to: Investigating
Razvan Boxifier
Collaborator | Level 10

@Justin from Just Front-end wrote:

Are you by chance, able to explain exactly what this command is doing?

"Set-Content -Path C:\Users\yourName\Dropbox\someFolder -Stream com.dropbox.ignored -Value 1"


I read the Microsoft docs on "Set-Content", but I'm perplexed exactly on how this stops Dropbox from syncing?

Sure, what that command does is to mark a folder on the local filesystem so that it is ignored by the Dropbox sync engine. It does that by attaching an "alternate data stream" (which is a feature of the NTFS filesystem) to the folder that you want to exclude from syncing. You can think of it like putting a sticky note on a folder.


When scanning the Dropbox folder looking for changes to sync, Dropbox checks for the presence of such alternate data stream named  "com.dropbox.ignore" attached to a folder. What that PowerShell command that you quoted does is to attach an alternate data stream named "com.dropbox.ignore", with the contents of the stream being "1". In computer code, 1 is the value for "true" or "enabled".


This means that the decision to ignore the folder is only stored locally (on that computer), so it only applies to the computer where you run the command, not other computers where you are also using Dropbox with the same account.


@Justin from Just Front-end wrote:

Is there a list of files/folders somewhere on one's computer which Dropbox uses as a reference for
what files/folders not to sync?

Or is such a reference stored in the cloud?

To answer your question, there isn't one place or list on one's computer for Dropbox to use as a reference. It builds that list on-the-fly by scanning the Dropbox folder and seeing which folders have the ".com.dropbox.ignore" sticky note attached to them.


Hope that helps!


Justin from Just Front-end
Explorer | Level 3

@Razvan Boxifier - Thank you so much!


What a great explanation. Much appreciated.

Helpful | Level 7

Hi @Razvan Boxifier, Thank you for the explanation.


Will this work when set on a root directory so that ALL `node_modules` sub-directories ever created now, or in the future, deleted, and re-created over time will be ignored and not synced without further user action? Each of these `node_module` cache folders contain hundreds of thousands of files each and undergo regular refreshes. It's absolutely critical that Dropbox NOT process/traverse these sub-directories whatsoever.


If `com.dropbox.ignore` can be set at the Dropbox/ root, will you explain the exact steps for macOS? It will be such a life saver.

New member | Level 2

I actively use dropbox to manage all my client projects. In addition to sorting all my client/project assets, each one has at least two github repository nested within. I did this because its an amazing user experience to have all my files, environment variables, and graphic assets sync seamlessly between 6 different workstations. The single bane of my existence is the node_modules folder. Any time I create a new project or start adding more dependencies to an exciting one - dropbox takes an eternity to sync do to this folder. Having to manually deselect every singe node_modules folder just isn't a sustainable approach. I think Dropbox could benefit from creating a .gitignore equivalent so I can remove certain folders or file types globally from the system. 

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