So, you have a Mac and a Dropbox account and you’d love to know exactly how to make all of your apps and app data sync automatically? Well, you’ll be pleased to know there are ways to do this, and they are generally quite easy, depending on how in-depth you want to go.
Why would you want to sync your app data? Well, perhaps in order to keep backups in the cloud. Or maybe you would do this in order to sync with another computer somewhere. Some apps have internal support for Dropbox sync, which make it simple to keep your apps and computers in sync. But, even if your favourite apps don’t offer in-app sync, there are usually still ways to do it.
How To Sync Apps And Settings
If you’re keen to back up all of your Mac apps, you could create a symbolic link (symlink) to Dropbox for the entire applications folder using one of many methods we’ll go through later. This would no doubt be huge, but it could save you from having to find them all again in the event of a disaster ruining both your Mac and your Time Machine backup.
If you want to back up just the settings for an application, you should be able to find them in one of a few places. For instance:
/Library/Preferences/ /Users/YOURNAME/Library/Preferences/ /Library/Application Support/ /Users/YOURNAME/Library/Application Support/
All you need to do is create a symbolic link in Dropbox to the folder containing your app data. You may wish to make this symlink for just the specific app, or to the entire “Preferences” or “Application Support” folders, depending on your needs.
Create Your Own Dropbox Symlinks
You can also create your own symlinks if you are comfortable using the command line in Terminal. Browse in Finder and find exactly where your application settings for the program are. For instance:
In your Dropbox folder, create whatever sub-folder you need to keep yourself organised. For instance:
Then create your symlink to the app data folder, using a backslash before spaces:
ln -s ~/Library/Application\ Support/AddressBook ~/Dropbox/AppBackup
If you see a red cross when you view the result, you’ll need to adjust the permissions of the source file or folder. If you’re having trouble with the locations, type “ls -s” and a space, then drag the folder from finder into Terminal.
Use Automator To Create Dropbox Symbolic Links
If you’re a fan of Mac’s Automator tool, Bakari has noted how you can set up symbolic links using Automator. He’s also gone into detail about how you can clean up your Dropbox account using Automator.
Create Symbolic Links Easily Using MacDropAny
You can use MacDropAny to easily create symbolic links for any folder you’d like to sync to the cloud. This works for many types of cloud storage, including Dropbox, Box.com, Google Drive, iClouDrive and Microsoft Skydrive. The free Mac app makes it really easy to sync folders to the cloud and to keep track of which folders you are syncing. It’s fully integrated with the Mac system, so you can right-click on a folder in order to set up Dropbox syncing. This makes it the ultimate Mac tool for users of cloud storage – as everything is so easy to set up.
Windows User? Use Dropboxifier To Create Symbolic Links
For Windows users, you have a smilar tool called Dropboxifier. Dropboxifier is a simple little tool to create symbolic links in your Dropbox folder to folders you’d like to save. It makes the process of creating and keeping track of your symbolic links really easy and it’s perfect for backing up program settings, game saves and other app data. Despite the name, it’s now available for Google Drive, Skydrive and any other cloud storage that creates a virtual drive on your machine.
Read more about Dropboxifier for Windows.
More Ways To Sync To Dropbox
There are so many wonderful ways to sync your documents and apps to Dropbox on top of the regular Dropbox apps. For Android, you can use the Dropspace app to sync folders from your SD card, Chrome has a widget to access your files, and many web apps will sync Dropbox documents for various uses for Dropbox you may not have thought of.
If you’d like to know more, check out our full Dropbox guide, available online or as an eBook or PDF. Mac users with multiple Dropbox accounts might also like to learn how to run two Dropbox accounts on a Mac simultaneously.
What’s your favourite way to sync Mac apps to Dropbox? Let us know, along with any of your favourite tips in the comments below.