How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]One of the most useful computer applications that I’ve come across so far is Dropbox. There are already countless articles about this automatic folder backup and synchronization tool here in MakeUseOf, including many usage spin-offs like: synchronizing research data and triggering automatic downloads.

But if you are an avid Dropbox user, there might be times when you wish you could run multiple Dropbox accounts simultaneously.

Maybe because you need to seperate personal account and work account, or maybe you just want to get some extra storage – for free. Whatever the reason is, there are ways to run multiple Dropbox accounts at once. Here are the steps to do it on a Mac.

Before you start, you need to create an additional account with Dropbox.

Command Line Galore

Tweaking Dropbox to enable multiple instances requires meddling with Terminal and a whole bunch of command lines. I’m not a fan of command line myself, but I can tell you that the following process is not as “scary” as it sounds.

There are two steps that need to be taken. The first step is setting up the account.

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Type (or just copy and paste) this command:

    bash

    Hit enter and insert the next command line:

    HOME=$HOME/.dropbox-alt /Applications/Dropbox.app/Contents/MacOS/Dropbox &

    Here’s how it looks like.

    01 Terminal Dropbox   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  3. A new Dropbox icon will appear in the menubar.

    02 Two Dropbox accounts   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  4. A Dropbox account setup window will also pop up. Follow the setup steps.

    03b Dropbox Setup2   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  5. At the last setup step, tick the option to choose your own location of Dropbox folder. Hit the “Change” button to determine the location.

    04 Dropbox Setup Choose Location 12   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  6. After the setup process complete, you can close the terminal. Theoretically, the extra Dropbox instances will also be closed, but in my experiment it remained in the menubar.

That’s the end of step 1. We’ll go to the second step: creating the startup item for the extra Dropbox instance.

  1. Open the Terminal (again)
  2. Paste in this command line:

    mkdir -p ~/wherever you like/DropboxAltStarter.app/Contents/MacOS/

    In place of “wherever you like” really does mean anywhere on your hard drive that you like, such as ~/Documents/.

    05 Terminal create alt app   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

    In this step, you are creating an application called “DropboxAltStarter“. But it’s not completed yet.

    05b Created Application 11   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  3. Then open TextEdit and paste:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN"
            "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
    <plist version="1.0">
    <dict>
        <key>CFBundlePackageType</key>
        <string>APPL</string>
        <key>CFBundleExecutable</key>
        <string>DropboxAltStarter</string>
        <key>LSUIElement</key>
        <string>1</string>
    </dict>
    </plist>

    Save the file as: “Info.plist” anywhere.

    (Please note that the <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC “-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN” and “http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd”> above should be written within one line of code – separated by a space, but we need to break it down into two because it couldn’t fit into the WP theme. So don’t forget to enter it in one line).

    06 TextEdit Save plist   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  4. Right click on the “DropboxAltStarter” that you’ve created before and choose “Show Package Contents

    07 Show Package Contents   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  5. Drag and drop the “Info.plist” file into the folder “Contents” (the same level as “MacOS” folder).

    08 Inside Contents   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

    08b Inside Contents   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  6. Create a new text file and paste:
    #!/bin/bash
    HOME=/Users/$USER/.dropbox-alt
              /Applications/Dropbox.app/Contents/MacOS/Dropbox

    (Again, the HOME=/Users/$USER/.dropbox-alt and /Applications/Dropbox.app/Contents/MacOS/Dropbox should be written in one line of code separated by a space. You know what to do.)

    Then save the file as “DropboxAltStarter” (sans quote). Don’t forget to uncheck the “If no extension is provided, use “.txt”” box to prevent TextEdit from saving the file as text file.

    09 DropboxAltStarter   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 above to put the “DropboxAltStarter” file into the “MacOS” folder.

    09b DropboxAltStarter   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  8. Open Terminal and type this command:

    chmod 755

    Before you hit enter, drag and drop the “DropboxAltStarter” file to the Terminal to finish the command.

    10 Making it executable   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

    Then hit enter.

    10b Terminal full command   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  9. Now you have a working app. You can move it to the “Applications” folder if you like, double click it to open the second dropbox account.

    11 New Dropbox account 1   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

  10. You can also add the newly created app to your start up list by going to “System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items” menu.

    11 Add login items   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

After the long journey

Whew! That was quite a long ride, wasn’t it?

The work is done, but there’s still one thing to add: To know which Dropbox account is which, you can assign different logo to one of them. Go to Dropbox’ “Preferences > General” and choose the B&W logo for one of the accounts.

12 Dropbox Preferences   How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac]

If you are a Windows user, you can use Dropbox addon called Dropboxen to achieve the same result.

So, what would you do with two Dropbox instances? Do you know the way to run multiple Dropbox accounts? Share your thoughts and opinion using the comment below.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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12 Comments -

MPN

Warning…I will curse in the following….
…has anyone seen/does anyone know whether this will work (in any other way) for errrm..Windows.. too??

Brian

I can’t get this to work, I’ve tried it on three machines so far. I think it may be my textedit. I don’t have the option to save as Unicode or plain text in TextEdit. When I try to open the altstarter program i get an error saying the the file is damaged or incomplete. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Jeffry Thurana

Maybe your TextEdit is set to save as RTF. Try “Format > Make Plain Text” menu or “Command + Shift + T”. And don’t forget to uncheck the ‘If no extension is provided, use “.txt”’ box to prevent TextEdit from saving the file as text file.

Hope this could help.

Brian

problem solved, it was the unicode text issue.

manu

works great, thanks a lot :)

fab

Great job, man! thank you

Josh

A much easier way to make the “Starter” app:

1. Open “Applescript Editor”
2. enter the following applescript:
do shell script “bash; HOME=/Users/$USER/.dropbox-alt /Applications/Dropbox.app/Contents/MacOS/Dropbox”
(that’s all one line)
3. File > Save As… choose “Application” as the format

inboulder

These instructions work, however, once 2 dropbox instances are running, finder crashes _constantly_.

Don Gilbert

If that’s true, then I can’t use this, no matter how clever it is. Can anyone confirm this?

Jon

Is this reversible?

If I screw it up, how do I go back to the default install?

Thank you!

Jon

btw – can any one else confirm the finder crashing?

Josh

I’ve been running this for a couple of weeks with a work account and a personal account, and no Finder crashing here. Macbook Pro on 10.6.3

As for reversing it, all you need to do is delete the stuff you created and make sure to take the entry out of Login Items. It doesn’t modify your original Dropbox installation in any way, particularly if you use my Applescript method.