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.
- Open Terminal
- Type (or just copy and paste) this command:
Hit enter and insert the next command line:
HOME=$HOME/.dropbox-alt /Applications/Dropbox.app/Contents/MacOS/Dropbox &
Here’s how it looks like.
- A new Dropbox icon will appear in the menubar.
- A Dropbox account setup window will also pop up. Follow the setup steps.
- At the last setup step, tick the option to choose your own location of Dropbox folder. Hit the “Change” button to determine the location.
- 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.
- Open the Terminal (again)
- 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/.
In this step, you are creating an application called “DropboxAltStarter“. But it’s not completed yet.
- 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).
- Right click on the “DropboxAltStarter” that you’ve created before and choose “Show Package Contents”
- Drag and drop the “Info.plist” file into the folder “Contents” (the same level as “MacOS” folder).
- 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.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 above to put the “DropboxAltStarter” file into the “MacOS” folder.
- Open Terminal and type this command:
Before you hit enter, drag and drop the “DropboxAltStarter” file to the Terminal to finish the command.
Then hit enter.
- 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.
- You can also add the newly created app to your start up list by going to “System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items” menu.
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.
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.
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