I recently discovered these fantastic instructions on using Dropbox from the command line. I currently use the Dropbox GUI, but a command line option would be very useful.

Unfortunately, the script thinks that Dropbox isn't running. It appears that it's looking for a daemon that it doesn't think exists, but the Dropbox process is running. Is the daemon separate from the application and needs to be installed on its own or do I likely have some settings messed up? Or... are the instructions I followed out of date?


2 Answers 2


So, the word around the Internet is that the dropbox.py command-line client does not work with the Windows or OS X versions of the Dropbox client. I can attest to this fact (for OS X, at least), having labored in vain to get Dropbox synchronizing to an OS X Server shell account at my university. Dig as deep as you like inside the app bundle, you won't find a headless daemon that you can run standalone without the GUI like you can on Linux. The Dropbox daemon is inseparable from the GUI on OS X.

There used to be a Votebox ballot for this feature, but since Votebox has been disabled, the best you can do is go to this topic in the forums and pine away for this feature in desperation with all of the other users there. Unfortunately, to make matters worse, the Mac Dropbox client is also not AppleScriptable either, as noted here.

You may find this project interesting, though. Although it's not very Dropboxy in that it doesn't do two-way, automatic background synchronization, it can be run without installation on any *nix system with curl available (which, technically, includes a properly-equipped Cygwin installation on Windows). It might be sufficient for copying a few boilerplate config files down from your Dropbox account, or updating a file or two after you've modified them locally, but at that point, you're almost better learning to use Git.

Source: http://techblog.willshouse.com/2011/04/09/dropbox-command-line-interface-cli/


  1. Dropbox forums topic "Pause/resume from CLI"
  2. GitHub.com andreafabrizi/Dropbox-Uploader
  3. Cygwin
  4. Guided tour of Git version control fundamentals
  • does this still hold for the latest version of DropBox for OS X?
    – Valerio
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 19:31
  • another question: what about compiling the linux dropbox source code?
    – Valerio
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 11:29
  • Judging by this feature request, it doesn't seem like anything has fundamentally changed, architecture-wise. (You could add your "kudos" there as a sort of a vote for the feature, I guess.) The GUI and the syncing daemon are separate processes on Linux, which is why communicating with the syncing daemon with a Python script is possible on that platform only.
    – Kevin E
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 19:33

In 2022, the official Dropbox client synchronises the files to ~/Library/CloudStorage/Dropbox/, which can be accessed via the CLI.

  • Is it? % ls ~/Library/CloudStorage/Dropbox results in ls: /Users/me/Library/CloudStorage/Dropbox: Operation not permitted
    – jwm
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 2:45

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