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This can be a story I by no means had any intention of writing. Dropbox up to date its file-sync software for Mac final month, and the brand new model comprises an annoyance that I want to remove.

I figured this would not be tough, not to mention newsworthy: I would contact Dropbox, clarify the issue, and discover out if there’s any manner for me to vary the annoying habits. If there wasn’t, I would suggest that they make a small change to their app, and hopefully my message could be handed alongside to their growth group they usually’d ultimately make a change.

As an alternative, I realized one thing each irritating and engaging: there are quite a few Dropbox assist staff who apparently have by no means used their firm’s Mac software and don’t perceive the way it works. Consequently, Dropbox’s customers have to clarify to Dropbox staff how Dropbox’s software works on the Mac.

As a division of labor, it in all probability is smart for some assist reps to specialise in Dropbox for Home windows, or Dropbox for Mac, or Dropbox for cellular units, and many others. However when Dropbox rolled out a significant change to its Mac software, it had assist reps replying to Mac customers with out figuring out what they had been speaking about. I do not blame the person assist reps—Dropbox the corporate wants to ensure its staff are ready to reply person questions, particularly upfront of main adjustments that can inevitably result in an increase in person complaints. That did not occur this time.

Dropbox needs to be entrance and middle

To summarize, the issue is that this: Dropbox now opens a brand new file browser and an related Dock icon each time it begins, even when you do not need it to. When you’re not aware of Macs, the Dock is the road of functions on the underside of the display screen (or the aspect, in case you’ve moved it within the settings), and serves the identical operate because the Home windows Taskbar. If my laptop restarts or if Dropbox restarts, the brand new Dropbox window that I do not need pops up within the Dock:

Dropbox's new app opens a file browser and Dock icon every time my Mac restarts.
Enlarge / Dropbox’s new app opens a file browser and Dock icon each time my Mac restarts.

Jon Brodkin

This is not an enormous deal, as I can give up Dropbox’s new file browser and do away with that Dock icon every time my laptop begins up. I am not going to cease utilizing Dropbox—I have been paying the corporate $138 a 12 months for 2TB of storage and for 12 months’ price of file historical past, which saves all deleted recordsdata and revisions to recordsdata. (It is going as much as $158 subsequent time I get billed, in February.) It is price it to me as a result of Dropbox nonetheless works nice, whereas the alternate options have all the time been unreliable or disappointing in different methods after I’ve tried them. I will get into that extra later on this article.

However the Dock icon and window is a significant change in how Dropbox presents itself to customers. Dropbox has all the time been the form of software that’s there whenever you want it and will get out of the way in which when you do not. Dropbox’s syncing and file-sharing options are built-in with the Finder (the Mac file supervisor), and there is a little icon within the Mac’s Menu Bar on the prime of the display screen for when you have to change a setting.

Dropbox's right-click menu for files in the Finder.
Enlarge / Dropbox’s right-click menu for recordsdata within the Finder.

Jon Brodkin

However now, Dropbox needs to be entrance and middle always. The corporate constructed its personal file browser to interchange what’s already obtainable within the Mac Finder, and it opens that new file supervisor each time Dropbox begins. We wrote about it final week when Dropbox began rolling it out to extra customers. I’ve had it for greater than a month since I someway ended up in Dropbox’s Early Entry program.

You should use the Mac’s Command-Q shortcut to give up the file browser, and the brand new Dropbox window and Dock icon will disappear—so long as you’ve got additionally disabled the Mac characteristic that reveals current functions within the Dock. You possibly can repair the opposite main drawback by going into Dropbox settings and selecting “Open folders in Finder” as a substitute of “Open folders in Dropbox.” That manner, in case you click on the Dropbox Menu Bar icon after which click on a file, it opens within the Mac’s native file supervisor as a substitute of Dropbox’s personal file supervisor. You need to change the setting as a result of Dropbox’s new app robotically switches the default from the Finder to Dropbox’s new file browser.

Dropbox does preserve syncing within the background after you give up the brand new file supervisor, and the helpful Menu Bar icon will nonetheless be there. However it’s a must to do that each time you restart your Mac, or each time Dropbox restarts. It doesn’t matter what settings you select, the brand new file browser and corresponding Dock open each time Dropbox begins. I believe many individuals will simply go away it within the Dock as a result of they might not notice that Dropbox will proceed working usually even in case you “give up” the file browser.

So what does this should do with Dropbox assist staff? Nicely, it seems they do not know that it is potential for Mac functions to run with no Dock icon despite the fact that that is precisely how Dropbox labored for a decade. They usually’ve been giving unhealthy recommendation to customers who need to change again to the outdated manner of doing issues.

As a result of a number of Dropbox staff are making this error, I assume it is a failure at a better degree. Dropbox made a significant change to how its Mac software works, but it surely would not appear to have totally defined that change to its assist reps. You’d suppose Dropbox would be sure that its assist reps have a baseline understanding of how its Mac app works and the way the Mac Dock works earlier than they’ve to answer Mac customers, however that hasn’t been the case.

Explaining the Dropbox app to Dropbox staff

Take a look at this assist thread that started a month in the past with the title “Cannot take away Dropbox icon from Mac OS Dock.” The person who began the thread wrote:

On the Mac, up to now, I’ve preferred simply having a small discrete Dropbox icon on my menu bar to observe issues after which accessed my recordsdata from the Finder.

After a current replace to the “new” Dropbox, the Dropbox software itself now opens itself and slaps an enormous Dropbox icon in my Dock which I do not need there.

Hassle is, if I choose to not open Dropbox on login, then the menu bar icon additionally would not seem and syncing would not happen in any respect.

How do I cease the Dock icon showing on startup?


Fairly easy request, proper? Besides the Dropbox worker who responded instructed the person that it is unattainable for Mac apps to not have a Dock icon, despite the fact that that is merely not true.

The Dropbox worker responded:

[W]hile it will be price noting that every one energetic packages will seem on the Dock whereas they’re open, kindly be aware that it’s going to not be potential to take away it from there with out eradicating the app altogether. From there, I’ve already made positive to notice your ideas in my report internally, since this may be some nice suggestions for our group devs.

The assertion that “all energetic packages will seem on the Dock whereas they’re open” is fake, as many Mac functions simply seem within the Menu Bar and work within the background. That is how Dropbox labored till a month in the past, that is how Dropbox’s opponents nonetheless work, and but some Dropbox staff suppose it is unattainable. Many different Mac apps that may seem in both the Dock or Menu Bar allow you to disable the Dock icon, and Dropbox may simply do that by including a checkbox to its app settings.

There’s one other unusual response from a Dropbox worker in that assist thread, during which the assist rep suggests disabling Dropbox’s means to start out up robotically upon logging into the Mac. Sure, that will stop the Dock icon from showing, however it will additionally stop Dropbox from working in any respect.

I contacted Dropbox on Twitter on June 13 and was instructed that there isn’t a option to disable the launching of the Dock icon. The Dropbox worker who responded to me in that tweet did appear to know the issue, however my additional makes an attempt had been all answered by staff who do not perceive how the Dropbox for Mac app works.

I contacted Dropbox by e-mail on July 9 and an worker responded the following day with the next suggestion:

If I perceive appropriately, your present situation is that the Dropbox desktop software dock icon is getting in the way in which when utilizing your gadget, is that right?… As dock icons are related to the settings in your Apple gadget, doing a fast web search as to ‘tips on how to cover dock icons’ may presumably yield the outcomes you need to obtain.

Just like the Dropbox rep within the assist thread, the Dropbox worker responding to me appeared to suppose that it is unattainable for a Mac app to function with no Dock icon until a person finds some unsupported hack that adjustments how the app works. Whereas it is potential to cover some Dock icons by modifying every app’s data.plist file, this did not work after I tried it with Dropbox. And it is higher for the app to assist Dock hiding formally as a result of a person messing round with how an app works can result in unintended issues.

I responded to the Dropbox worker and defined that Dropbox by no means opened a Dock icon till just lately, that there isn’t a manner for me to vary how the Dropbox app works, and that Dropbox’s growth group ought to certainly know that it deliberately made this variation. I additionally requested the worker if he has used the Dropbox for Mac software just lately as a result of I needed to ensure I may discuss to somebody who understands what the Dock is and the way it works.

In his subsequent e-mail reply, the Dropbox worker didn’t reply whether or not he has ever used Dropbox for Mac. However he instructed me, “As you talked about there isn’t a manner so that you can cover the Dropbox dock icon, I’ve handed in your suggestions to my growth group for you.”