the Joy of Macs Software Dropbox Encore icon
Dropbox Encore 1.0
22 Jan 14
[ Overview | Requirements | Installation | Usage | Problems | Reinstall | Uninstall | Feedback ]

Overview

Dropbox shared folders let two users (i.e., two accounts) share a folder of files. See the Dropbox Help for more information.

But sometimes Dropbox Sharing is not what you want, e.g., independent work and home accounts. Dropbox Encore enables a second instance of Dropbox to run in a single Mac OS X user account.

Each instance of Dropbox must have (1) a unique Dropbox account and (2) a separate local Dropbox folder.

Take Note

Dropbox Encore on Snow Leopard (10.6) to Mavericks (10.9)

Dropbox Encore runs successfully with Dropbox 2.0 (or later) on Snow Leopard (10.6.8), Lion (Mac OS X 10.7.5), Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8.5) and Mavericks (10.9.1).

Requirements

Installation

  1. Download DropboxEncore1.0.dmg.
  2. Mount the disk image if your browser does not do it automatically. The installation folder should open automatically.
  3. Drag the Dropbox Encore application and drop it on the Applications folder alias.
  4. Important: In Finder, create a folder for your second Dropbox folder. For example, create a new "Dropbox Encore" folder in your Home folder. (You'll need this folder the first time you launch Dropbox Encore – Dropbox will create a "Dropbox" subfolder within your new folder.)

You can Show Package Contents of the applcation package to verify it's not a Trojan horse. You'll find a two-line shell script in the "Resources" folder.

Usage

The sole function of the Dropbox Encore application is to launch a second instance of Dropbox, using the official Dropbox application in your Applications folder.

Dropbox Encore runs as a background application, e.g., no Dock icon.

Launching Dropbox Encore the first time

  1. Launching Dropbox Encore for the first time creates a second instance of Dropbox – a second Dropbox icon menu appears in your menu bar.

    Notes:
    • If Gatekeeper stops Dropbox Encore from launching, see the "Unsigned Application" instructions below.
    • If launching Dropbox Encore causes the running Dropbox to quit, see the "Dropbox quits" fix below.
  2. The Dropbox wizard leads you through setup of your second account. To keep your two Dropboxes from interfering with each other, you must make a few departures from the default process. These screenshots shows selected Dropbox Setup steps that require special setup for your second Dropbox account:
        Click to enlarge:
    a. Choose (or create) a second Dropbox account. Dropbox Second Account
    b. Choose Advanced setup in order to configure your second Dropbox folder. Dropbox Advanced Setup
    c. Choose the alternate location for your second Dropbox folder,
    e.g., the "Dropbox Encore" folder you created in your Home folder
    during Dropbox Encore installation.
    Dropbox Location
    d. Dropbox will create its "Dropbox" folder in the folder you selected. Second Dropbox folder
    e. Continue with the rest of Dropbox Setup.  
  3. To distinguish the two Dropbox icons in your menu bar:
    1. Select Preferences from one of the icon menus.
    2. Enable the "Use black and white menu bar icons" option.

Two Dropbox folders in Finder's sidebar

When Dropbox created its first "Dropbox" folder on your Mac, it put this folder into Finder's sidebar. When Dropbox created its second Dropbox folder for Dropbox Encore, it replaced the original folder in Finders sidebar with the new Dropbox Encore folder.

    Click to enlarge:
a. Your Finder sidebar points to your Dropbox Encore folder. Dropbox Second Account
b. Drag your original Dropbox folder into the sidebar and drop it in the
space between the Pictures and existing Dropbox folder.

Caution: Before releasing your mouse, make sure you see a line between
the two folders. Otherwise, you'll move the original Dropbox folder.

Dropbox Advanced Setup
c. Your Finder sidebar will have two Dropbox folders.

You'll need to remember the correspondence to the actual folders.

Dropbox Location

Quitting Dropbox Encore

Choose Quit from the second Dropbox icon menu.

Subsequent launches of Dropbox Encore

After the second Dropbox has finished its configuration, launching Dropbox Encore simply causes the second Dropbox icon to appear in your menu bar.

Start at Login

If you want your second Dropbox running all of the time, drag the Dropbox Encore application to your your "System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items" list.

More than two Dropbox accounts

Several Dropbox Encore users have asked for more than two Dropbox accounts. I expect any number of Dropbox accounts could be active on a single Mac OS X account. I have not tried this because I have only two Dropbox accounts.

If you'd like to experiment, ...

  1. Duplicate the Dropbox Encore application file, naming the new file something like "Dropbox Encore 3".
  2. Use Finder's contextual menu to Show Package Contents.
  3. Edit the "script" file in a text editor, changing "dropbox-two" to "dropbox-three".

When I launched my test Dropbox Encore 3, it got to the point of asking for a Dropbox account. Since I did not want to create another, I Quit the test app.

Caution

Having more than two Dropbox accounts active at the same time may lead to confusion because the Dropbox icon in the menu bar can have only two colors (blue & black).

Known Problems

  1. Keychain Speedbump

    Dropbox Encore running with the Dropbox 1.2.n may encounter a Keychain speedbump:
    • On the first launch of Dropbox Encore after each login, Mac OS X reports "Dropbox wants to use the 'login' keychain." After entering your Keychain password, your second Dropbox account works properly.
    • If you quit and relaunch Dropbox Encore, there is no Keychain message.
  2. Unsigned Application

    If you have System Preferences > Security & Privacy set to allow applications only from the Mac App Store or identified developers, double-clicking the Dropbox Encore app will be blocked by OS X Gatekeeper because Dropbox Encore is not a "signed" app.

    To get past this barrier, right-click (or control-click) the Dropbox Encore application file and choose "Open" – Gatekeeper will ask if you're sure you want to open the application. This special open of Dropbox Encore is needed only once; after that you can launch Dropbox Encore with a double-click or Open at Login.
  3. Dropbox quits when Dropbox Encore is launched

    Some Dropbox Encore users, using various OS X releases, have reported that launching Dropbox Encore causes the running Dropbox to quit, and vice versa. Consequently, only one Dropbox account can be active at a time.

    Technical details (optional): This "auto-Quit" behavior results from Dropbox's occasional "silent" auto-upgrade. Since the Dropbox app does not have permission to upgrade itself in the Applications folder, it downloads the new release into the ~/Library/Application Support/Dropbox/ folder. After that, when the older Dropbox app (in the Applications folder) opens, it detects the newer Dropbox app (in the Application Support folder) and opens it. The newer Dropbox app then forces all other Dropbox apps to quit. Since Dropbox Encore is just a second instance of the official Dropbox app, launching Dropbox Encore causes Dropbox to quit (and vice versa).

    The fix for the "auto-Quit" problem is to download and reinstall Dropbox, even if you are already running the latest version.

    Note: This fix is not permanent because there is no way to disable Dropbox's auto-upgrade feature. So the "auto-Quit" problem may reappear. I will investigate whether Dropbox Encore can work around the problem caused Dropbox auto-upgrade.

Reinstall Dropbox Encore

A small number of Dropbox Encore users have reported other problems with Dropbox Encore setup or usage. So far, these problems have resulted from departures from the "Launching Dropbox Encore the first time" instructions.

In the event of a problem with Dropbox Encore, ...

  1. Delete the hidden Dropbox Encore configuration files: see step 4 of Uninstall Dropbox Encore (next section).
  2. Carefully follow the steps in Launching Dropbox Encore the first time.

Uninstall Dropbox Encore

To remove Dropbox Encore from your Mac, ...

  1. If Dropbox Encore is running, select Quit Dropbox from its menu.
  2. Drag the Dropbox Encore application from the Applications folder into the Trash.
  3. If Dropbox Encore is automatically launched at startup, remove it from your System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items.
  4. Use the Terminal application to delete the hidden Dropbox Encore folder, which holds account information and status data. This hidden folder is different from your visible second Dropbox folder (see Installation step #4 above).
    1. Launch Terminal from your Utilities folder. Terminal defaults to your "home" folder.
    2. Use the "rm" command to delete the hidden ".dropbox-two" folder – note that the folder name has a leading period.
      rm -R .dropbox-two

Acknowledgements

Dropbox Encore was inspired by pioneering discussion:

Many thanks to Richard Bao for tracking down the cause of the Dropbox "auto-Quit" problem.

Sveinbjorn Thordarson's Platypus developer tool created the Dropbox Encore application from a 2-line bash shell script.

The Joy of Macs thanks the Dropbox Team for providing a wonderful Internet cloud service.

And thanks to Dropbox Encore users for helpful feedback.

Feedback

Please send questions & comments to Ward Clark, including the following information:

Revision History

22 Jan 14 – Add a fix for the Dropbox "auto-Quit" problem.
27 Dec 13 – Replace the "In the event of a Dropbox Encore problem, ..." section with an expanded "Known Problems" section.
26 Oct 13 – Announce compatibility with Mavericks (OS X 10.9).
14 Oct 13 – Test with Dropbox 2.4.2 on Mac OS X 10.6.8 and 10.8.5.
03 Jun 13 – Clarify the requirement that the user's home folder must be on the startup hard drive.
18 Mar 13 – Add an "In the event of a Dropbox Encore problem, ..." section; test with Dropbox 2.0.0 on Mac OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.5 and 10.8.2.
21 Jan 13 – Add note about Dropbox in /Applications folder; test with Dropbox 1.6.15 on Mac OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.5 and 10.8.2.
17 Nov 12 – Test with Dropbox 1.6.0 on Mac OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.5 and 10.8.2.
08 Oct 12 – Note compatibility with Mac OS X 10.8.2.
26 May 12 – Test with Dropbox 1.4.7.
16 Feb 12 – Test with Dropbox 1.2.52.
12 Dec 11 – Update the Lion compatibility notes for newer Dropbox 1.2 releases; update the pioneering section of the Acknowledgements (thanks to Kevin Ernst).
10 Aug 11 – Update the Lion compatibility notes for Dropbox 1.2.24.
23 Jul 11 – Add Lion compatibility & Dropbox 1.2.16 caution notes; add a new "Finder sidebar" section.
04 Jul 11 – Add Dropbox Setup screenshots & uninstall steps.
21 Mar 11 – 1.0: release with no functional changes from 1.0rc1; add a note about icons to the Overview; add More than two Dropbox accounts notes.
05 Oct 10 – Clarify the N.B. in the Overview.
02 Oct 10 – Expand the Overview; correct typos.
18 Sep 10 – 1.0rc1: rename to Dropbox Encore.
23 Aug 10 – 1.0b2: change to a background application.
07 Jun 10 – 1.0b1