Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Dropbox and Maestral

Hartley Charlton:

An official Dropbox support thread, shared by Mitchell Hashimoto on Twitter, reveals a fiasco around native support for Apple silicon Macs. Dropbox is seemingly insisting that a significant number of community members will have to vote for native Apple silicon support for it to be implemented. There are also multiple repetitious requests with different phrasing, fragmenting users’ votes for support.


In a reply on Twitter, Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston apologized for the confusion sparked by the “not ideal” support responses and said that Dropbox is “certainly supporting Apple silicon” with a native Apple silicon build planned for release in the first half of next year.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Not the full story, at all. There are technical issues & negotiations at play. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that Apple doesn’t really want companies making kexts anymore

Apple wants apps to use the new File Provider extension API instead, but from what I’ve heard it’s limited and unreliable.

Ryan Jones:

Exploring Dropbox alternatives?

I did ~6 months ago. Fully installed Box, G Drive, One Drive, and tried iCloud Drive.

I ran back to Dropbox and paid for Plus. For speed, simplicity, and less bullshit.

Marco Arment:

Had enough with the Dropbox Mac app? Me too.

I switched to maestral.app a few weeks back and couldn’t be happier. ~7x less RAM, ~10x less disk space, doesn’t burn 100% CPU during Xcode unzips.

Only drawback is it doesn’t sync xattrs, which doesn’t affect my usage.


Maestral is an open-source Dropbox client written in Python. The project’s main goal is to provide a client for platforms and file systems that are no longer directly supported by Dropbox.

Maestral currently does not support Dropbox Paper, the management of Dropbox teams, and the management of shared folder settings.


The focus on “simple” file syncing does come with advantages: on macOS, the Maestral App bundle is significantly smaller than the official Dropbox app and uses less memory.

Maestral uses the public Dropbox API which, unlike the official client, does not support transferring only those parts of a file which changed (“binary diff”). Maestral may therefore use more bandwidth that the official client.

Max Seelemann:

🏎 Ulysses clean build on M1 Max: ~65s.

🚀 Same but with Dropbox app NOT running: ~55s.

Quitting Dropbox saves 10s or ~15% for me! Reproduced multiple times.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.


Update (2021-12-03): Tim Hardwick:

If you’ve had your share of frustrations with the Dropbox app, you can always switch to another rival cloud storage service like iCloud, or you can try one of the following alternative Mac clients to sync with your existing Dropbox account.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

I realize this isn't a Dropbox equivalent, but I've been using Resilio Sync for years and it's been faster, cheaper, and more reliable than Dropbox on top of being more private. The rub is you need to leave a computer running for the sync to work. I haven't tried SyncThing, but I believe it's the same sort of system but open source.

I realize this won't be an acceptable substitute for everyone but I'd say to look into it.

+1 for Resilio. It can be a memory hog, but I use it to keep two computers almost perfectly in sync. Done its job flawlessly for years, and since it's peer-to-peer, there's no limit on how much you want to sync or how many devices you want to sync with.

Only limitation I see to Maestral is that it doesn’t allow for sharing links to files and folders…

“Apple wants apps to use the new File Provider extension API instead, but from what I’ve heard it’s limited and unreliable.”

The situation may have changed in Monterey but previously File Provider extensions were practically non existent on macOS despite what Apple announced at WWDC, was reported by the media, was publish on developer.apple.com, and available in the headers.

I spent a very frustrating 6 months trying to make File Provider extensions work only to be eventually told by a senior DTS manager the following.

“There appears to be confusion in what was communicated to you. File Provider Extension for macOS did not ship. There is no timeframe for when it will be available to developers.”

My advise for Mac developers. Tread very carefully with File Provider extensions.

I'm surprised nobody mentioned Tresorit. It's such a great alternative. An affordable no-bullshit solution. Also does selective sync. I switched from Dropbox over a year ago and I'm super happy with it.

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