How to open online-only files on macOS

Updated Sep 13, 2023

In this article, we explain the process for opening online-only files on a macOS device.

This article will cover:

  • What are online-only files?
  • How to open online-only files
  • Online-only update for macOS 12.5 and higher

What are online-only files?

When you make a file in your Dropbox account online-only, it won’t be automatically downloaded to your hard drive via the Dropbox desktop app. This allows you to save space on your device, while still being able to see what files are in your Dropbox account.

To open files, you simply need to manually download them to your device. You can do this by double-clicking the file in the Dropbox folder in Finder.

How to open files when they’re online-only

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To open online-only files:

  1. Open your Dropbox folder in Finder.
  2. Double-click the file you’d like to open.
  3. The file will be downloaded within your Dropbox folder and will open in its default app.

To make an online-only file available to open in third-party applications:

  1. Open your Dropbox folder in Finder.
  2. Right-click the file you want to make available.
  3. Click Make available offline.
  4. The file will be downloaded within your Dropbox folder.
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Note: Once the online-only file has been downloaded, the file icon will change to a green checkmark.

Learn more about what the Dropbox sync icons mean.

The downloaded file can then be opened through any third-party application.

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