How do I uninstall my second Dropbox installation hack on a Mac?

Amol August 29, 2011
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I was able to get a second Dropbox account working simultaneously on my Mac using this guide How To Run Multiple Dropbox Accounts Simultaneously [Mac] Read More on MakeUseOf.

But I’ve decided this is not really how I want to work. Also I don’t like how the Dropbox item in the Find sidebar has been changed to the second account’s folder.

How do I properly remove the second installation of Dropbox and its files and settings? Note… I didn’t bother going along with Step 2 of the article which discussed how to have the second instance start automatically on boot.

Thanks a lot.

  1. Anonymous
    September 21, 2011 at 3:39 am

    sorry for the late response.. 
    I removed the files as Mike pointed out..
    on top of that... I also deleted the actuall dropbox folder associated with the second dropbox installation.

    I'm hope that's all that needs to be done.  I guess I'm a bit confused because I don't really know what the bash command 
    "HOME=$HOME/.dropbox-alt /Applications/ &"
    that was used to create the second installation does in the first place.

    If someone could explain what that is then I would feel more confident in the uninstallation.

    • Mike
      September 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

      The second Dropbox you created consisted of 3 items.
      1. the Dropbox database folder in /Users/yourname/.dropbox-alt
      2. the application you created to start a second instance
      3. the storage (Dropbox folder) location you've chosen during the configuration

      So from your report I take that you have already deleted everything that belonged to the second Dropbox.

      About the bash command:

      When you install Dropbox it creates databases which contain information about your Dropbox account, the files in your Dropbox, when they were changed, when they were last synced etc. The default location for this is a hidden folder called ".dropbox" in your users home directory.

      Now, if you want to run a second instance of Dropbox you obviously need a second set of databases otherwise Dropbox would get confused. This is where the bash command comes into play. 

      This is an environment variable and contains your users home folder
      you can check this by opening Terminal and then type "echo $HOME"

      Dropbox is using this $HOME variable to determine where to put the hidden database storage (".dropbox") and this command temporarily changes the $HOME variable from the original e.g. /Users/guacamoly to /Users/guacamoly/.dropbox-alt

      /Applications/ &
      This basically runs the Dropbox daemon in a new background shell. Without the & you would get the reply "Another instance of Dropbox (PID) is running!" wherein PID would be replaced with the actual process ID.

      Why do you have to enter the bash shell?
      I'm not sure ~ this method was developed for UNIX users so I guess it's a limitation of the shell. In Mac OS X it works in the Terminal right away and you can even split up the commands. You could first set the variable HOME=$HOME/.dropbox-alt then hit enter and then start the Dropbox daemon. As long as you issue both commands in the same Terminal window you could actually go on a lunch break in between :-)

      What happens in the background is that the first Dropbox is storing it's stuff in e.g.

      while the second instance is storing the stuff in e.g.

      I hope this explains everything in detail and you don't have to worry about anything. This method is even described in the Dropbox Wiki

  2. Tina
    September 4, 2011 at 10:24 am


    were you able to remove your second Dropbox account in the meantime? What did the trick? Or do you still need assistance?

  3. Mike
    August 30, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I would say all you have to do is trace back the steps you did. 

    open up Activity Monitor an kill everything Dropbox related.remove the you createdremove the hidden folder /Users/yourname/.dropbox-alt (e.g. via Terminal)