What is the hidden "Dropbox" folder?

Updated Sep 20, 2023

Occasionally, you may see a ”.dropbox” file in the Dropbox folder on your computer or a second version of the main Dropbox folder itself. These are hidden files and folders, and you’ll only see them in two situations:

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Important: We strongly recommend against deleting any ".dropbox" folders or the files within them. If you delete them you may unintentionally leave or duplicate a shared folder in your Dropbox. If you don’t want to see them, you can follow the instructions below to no longer show hidden folders.

Why does renaming the Dropbox folder cause hidden folders to show?

If the Dropbox folder on your computer was renamed, the Dropbox app will create a hidden folder with the old folder name ("Dropbox"). This is called a “symlink.” A symlink is a file that directs to another file on your computer.

Important notes about hidden symlink folders

If your main Dropbox folder has been renamed, it may be best to leave the hidden symlink folder alone. Some programs on your computer may depend on the original Dropbox folder path name ("Dropbox") to function.

The symlink folder does not use extra disk space on your computer or on Dropbox.

Deleting files in the symlink Dropbox folder will also delete the original file. However, deleting the hidden symlink folder itself won't delete the main, renamed Dropbox folder.

If your computer is set to show hidden files and folders, this symlink may look like a secondary Dropbox folder on your computer. However, it isn't. Instead, this hidden folder points to the new Dropbox folder from the old location path. To avoid seeing hidden files, you’ll need to change your device settings.

How to no longer show hidden files


Check to see if your Windows computer is set to show hidden files.


To avoid seeing hidden files:

  1. Open the Terminal application on your computer.
  2. Copy and paste the code below into the Terminal window.
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO

3.  Press the enter/return key on your keyboard.

Why does Dropbox create hidden files?

Dropbox keeps a record of information about your main Dropbox folder and your shared folders. This information is saved in folders named ".dropbox" in the main Dropbox folder, or in a parent shared folder (i.e. a shared folder with other files and folders in it).

You will not see these folders unless you enabled the ability to view hidden files and folders in your operating system.

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