I have tons of stuff in my .bash_profile. The problem is, I use ~3 computers very frequently, and I'm tired of having to copy paste my prefs everywhere. Two of them run Ubuntu 10.10, and one runs OSX. I was wondering if there was a way to use Dropbox, to share a single prefs file. Like, when bash starts, tell it to check ~/Dropbox/Bash/.bash_profile ?

Although, could I also tell emacs to look in ~/Dropbox/Emacs/.emacs somehow?

  • 2
    Clever question! – msanford Dec 21 '10 at 4:33
  • I can't seem to comment on the (great) selected answer. I don't know if this is something specific to osx/mac but I needed to make a couple of changes for it to work DROPBOX_PROFILE='~/Dropbox/Bash/.bash_profile' if [ -f $DROPBOX_PROFILE ]; then . $DROPBOX_PROFILE fi Should be DROPBOX_PROFILE="$HOME/Dropbox/Bash/.bash_profile" if [ -f $DROPBOX_PROFILE ]; then . $DROPBOX_PROFILE fi Hope that helps. – Jason Jan 26 '11 at 1:45
  • Just to make it clearer: @Jason's tweaks are to replace the single-quotes with double-quotes and to replace '~' with '$HOME' in the definition of DROPBOX_PROFILE – sprugman Dec 11 '11 at 19:30


if [ -f $DROPBOX_PROFILE ]; then


(load "~/Dropbox/Emacs/.emacs")
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  • 3
    I personally feel that source is more readable (and googlable) than the dot operator, but it is your answer and so I will not edit it. Other than that, +1 for a good answer. – Hello71 Jan 26 '11 at 1:13
  • @Hello71 Can you elaborate on source a bit. I'm intrigued. Thanks! – Joshua Pinter Apr 11 '19 at 19:51
  • @Hello71 Ah, I think I know what you mean now. And I completely agree. using . is much more cryptic than using source. – Joshua Pinter Apr 11 '19 at 19:52
  • If you have a space in your path, like when you have a business Dropbox and want to use your personal one, e.g. Dropbox (Personal), you'll need to use double quotes when referencing the variable, like "$DROPBOX_PROFILE". – Joshua Pinter Apr 13 '19 at 21:35

How about this, which avoids having special config files that source the Dropbox versions?

$ ln -s ~/Dropbox/Bash/.bash_profile ~/.bash_profile
$ ln -s ~/Dropbox/Emacs/.emacs ~/.emacs
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In your regular .bash_profile, just call ~/Dropbox/Bash/.bash_profile.

. ~/Dropbox/Bash/.bash_profile # the '.' command runs a file.

Actually, you probably want to call the shared file something else, or at least not make it a hidden file.

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I think this would get what you want, just check to see if the file exists, if so, source it.

in $HOME/.bash_profile

[ -f $HOME/Dropbox/Bash/.bash_profile ] && source $HOME/Dropbox/Bash/.bash_profile
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Also check out "homeboy" for general development machine sync'ing and updating: https://github.com/preston/homeboy

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comment to: https://superuser.com/a/224204/401026 (Answer of Andrejs Cainikovs)

my changes for macOS 10.12.6 Sierra, iTerm2 Build 3.2.0, Terminal Version 2.7.3 (388.1.1):
- replaced tilde
- replace single quotes by double quotes

if [ -f $DROPBOX_PROFILE ]; then

sorry: I couldn't write comments, so I have to add another answer

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