Context: I'm trying to sync my entire Mac home folder into Dropbox. I moved Dropbox into the root folder, and sym-linked the home folder into Dropbox. The problem is that ~/Library/Containers consists of tons of sym-links which serve to duplicate data a lot for Dropbox (which follows sym-links as though they weren't links). I would like to tell Dropbox to ignore /Dropbox/home-sym-link/Library/Containers.

I have searched for this quite a bit. Here is what I have found:

  1. Selective Sync. This feature is similar to what I want, but actually the opposite of what I need (I think). Selective Sync allows me to tell Dropbox to prevent certain folders in the Dropbox servers from syncing/downloading to my computer client. What I want to do is the opposite: tell Dropbox to prevent certain folders on my computer from syncing/uploading onto Dropbox's servers.

  2. CLI. It appears that Linux has a CLI for accessing Dropbox, which has an exclude command. I have not found this to exist on Mac OS X, but would love to be proved wrong.

  3. .dropboxignore. I've seen a lot of users requesting a .gitignore-like file format for specifying regexes and the like to be ignored by Dropbox. Again, this would probably work, but does not seem to exist.

Any ideas?

  • possible duplicate of How to exclude files(not folders) from dropbox sync? Feb 9, 2015 at 22:00
  • I don't think it's a dupe, since this is asking about folders, where the referenced question is explicitly about files (not folders). But, it's a good reference item.
    – jimtut
    Feb 10, 2015 at 22:12
  • Thanks @ Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 . The file solution in that question does also work for folders. Good find. Feb 13, 2015 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


Dropbox doesn't seem to be able to parse Mac "aliases", which normally work like sym-links. So, if you're syncing a folder called Library and it has a child folder called Containers, can you move Containers somewhere else on your filesystem, and then place an "alias" of it back in Library? This will allow you (in the Finder) to visit the Containers folder like normal, but Dropbox should ignore it (actually, I think it will sync a small file representing the alias, but it won't follow the alias and sync the dir contents).

One problem with this might be whatever other SW is using the Containers folder. If that SW is trying to follow a UNIX-like path to Containers, that SW will see a "file" called `Containers". Only alias-aware SW will be able to follow through to the real sub-folder.

So, the same thing that helps keep Dropbox from syncing this folder may prevent other SW from using it properly too. It will be transparent to a user in the Finder, though.

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