The Dropbox system extension: an overview

This article provides information about the installation of the Dropbox system extension for customers on Windows and macOS 10.15 or earlier.

Sections in this article:

The Dropbox system extension is automatically installed when you install the Dropbox desktop app. It allows you to open online-only files from File Explorer (Windows), Finder (Mac), or third party applications.


  • If you’re on a Dropbox team account, an admin on your team can restrict your ability to install or uninstall the system extension.

How to install the Dropbox system extension

The Dropbox system extension is automatically installed when you install the Dropbox desktop app, but it can sometimes be blocked by some system permissions. If this occurs, follow the instructions below to manually install the Dropbox system extension:

Note: If you’re on a computer using an earlier operating system than macOS 11, you can update your system preferences to allow the blocked system extension. Learn how to update your system preferences.

How to uninstall the Dropbox system extension

To uninstall the system extension:

  1. Sign in to
  2. Click your avatar (profile picture or initials) in the upper right.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Toggle Dropbox system extension to off.

Admins: Uninstall the system extension from your team’s computers

If you’re an admin for a Dropbox team account, you can uninstall the Dropbox system extension from your team’s computers. To do so:

  1. Sign in to with your admin credentials.
  2. Navigate to the Dropbox system extension page.
  3. Check the boxes to confirm you understand the consequences of uninstalling.
  4. Click Uninstall.

After the system extension is uninstalled, team members will still be able to use the Dropbox folder in File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac), but all of their online-only files will become available offline and the extension will be disabled for both their team account and any linked personal account they may have.

Note: Online-only files becoming available offline will result in files being downloaded directly to a team member’s computer.


Is the Dropbox system extension secure?

The Dropbox system extension is secure and only used for online-only file management. It’s similar to other drivers and system extensions you may need to install for hardware or software, like printers, hard drives, or desktop applications.

Learn more about how Dropbox keeps your files safe and secure.

How can I save hard drive space using Dropbox?

You can save hard drive space with Dropbox in multiple ways:

  • Using selective sync: this allows you to remove specific Dropbox folders from your hard drive so you can save space on your computer. To learn more about selective sync, click here.
  • Making files online-only: this allows you to set a file or folder to online-only, meaning you can only open it if you’re connected to the internet, saving up space on both your computer’s hard drive and in your Dropbox account. Learn how to make files online-only here.
  • Using Dropbox Backup: this allows you to automatically back up important files and folders from your computers and external hard drives so you can ensure that your content is safe and recoverable if things go wrong. Learn more Dropbox Backup here.
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