Apple’s File Provider Forces Mac Cloud Storage Changes

Am I missing something? On my system (Monterey) Cmd+Option+G does nothing. It’s supposed to open a search in Google Drive. I can’t see any option to set this. Thanks for any help.

As I noted at the top, you should assume that everything in a cloud storage service is online-only to start and thus isn’t being backed up separately. That might not concern you—after all, the data all exists in the cloud. However, if you’re sharing folders with other people, it’s possible for them to delete files or entire folders accidentally (or maliciously), thus removing them from everyone in the share group.

Shared folders do get deleted, yes. It happened to me, and it was a bit of a mess to recover from. But that’s only one of the ways that cloud files can be lost.

I had local Time Machine backups of my computer, and that’s the only way we recovered the files. They weren’t in any online deleted items folder.

The downsides of cloud files seem substantial to me:

  • No backups
  • No ability to find your files
  • No ability to preview a file

These are things that I take for granted as basic things I need to be able to do with my files.

I guess I’ll keep buying large internal drives.

But I’m left wondering how people handle backing up cloud files?

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I think you make a couple very good points.

My concern would be that backing up cloud-stored data is perhaps not taken seriously because “it’s in the cloud” and “that means it’s backed up, right?”.

Like you, I subscribe to large internal storage (I refuse to externalize my data storage needs). I rely on TM and clones for backup. Fortunately, I don’t have much critical work on cloud-based storage, but I do essentially rely on my existing backup strategy to secure that data too. If this were more critical data, I’d be giving that a closer look right about now. I’d also be curious to hear what others do, especially those that rely on cloud storage for really critical files.

Strangely enough…on my M1 MBP up to date Ventura and DropBox 169.4.5684…and I’ve already done the ‘update to latest version’ process as prompted by the red flag on the menubar icon…my DropBox folder is still located at ~/DropBox and not in CloudStorage…and under Sync in DB Prefs I can select all folders to be synced to my computer…and it shows the correct size for what I have in there so everything is syncing locally for me. And even more strangely…my Studio that has the same up to date Ventura and DB versions has a bunch of stuff shown not local and it is in CloudStorage.

I’m thinking that between Apple and DB they haven’t quite worked all the bugs out of this new arrangement.

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I am on a local school board. We are in the process of installing “Hyperbackup” on a Synology NAS box. It will back up the files in the cloud, even Google Docs files (it stores those as Word or Excel or PowerPoint.) We haven’t gotten it running yet, so I can’t report any experience, but it purports to do the right thing.

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I know that many people have found that Spotlight will not index files in the CloudStorage directory without forcing a rebuild of the Spotlight index. I have rebuilt the Spotlight index successfully and now have the following two different behaviors:

  1. If I use spotlight to search for any “offline” file that is stored on my mac in the directory ~/Library/CloudStorage/DropBox/tmp/ , Spotlight search is SUCCESSFUL, finding the file with a full text search or a search for the name of the file. It also reports the file’s full path correctly.

  2. But, if I navigate to that directory using the Finder and search for that file using the search box in that Finder window, that search FAILS, whether I search for the file name or the text contents of the file.

Any ideas why that would be or how to make the folder-specific search work?

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This change broke my WXPO menu bar app for opening frequently used Office files. This stinks.

James, this explains that Finder search not working is a known limitation while Spotlight search will work. Expected changes with Dropbox for macOS - Dropbox Help

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There is also a team update (business accounts with multiple users) rolling out and I’ve been documenting that as well as the ins and outs of this app update in a Twitter thread.

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Dave K, there is a downgrade in ability to keep files offline in the new version vs the old. If you have 2 computers and you add a file it will be offline on the other computer. If a different Dropbox user adds a file in a shared folder then that file will be online only for you until you manually set it offline. If you are collaborating with others this is a downgrade. The “Storage of new files” option in Sync preferences is gone as you no longer have the option to exert that control over newly added files. This is the old view:


Thanks Eric! I think that description is out of date? I find that the description that “Searching through Finder will only find online-only files or folders that have been previously accessed on your device running Dropbox for macOS” does not correspond to the behavior I see: Finder cannot find files that are online-only or files or folders that have “been previously accessed…”

Still looking for an explanation, but this may hint at a difference between Finder search and Spotlight search. is there any documentation on what that is?

You’re welcome. Finder and Spotlight searches are just 2 interfaces to the same search engine as far as I know so the restriction doesn’t make much sense, but as you say it does seem like the difference between them does impact everyone and is not a problem specific to your computer.


My dropbox has been bugging me about that too. I dug into it enough to learn that it’s going to put my local copies in the hidden ~Library folder instead of in my Home folder where I prefer. I haven’t read Adam’s article yet, but I guess I better, in case there are other changes to.

I purposefully ordered my new MacBook Air with a 2 TB drive because where I live, the Internet is kind of sketchy and we have frequent outages. I like having online copies for access from multiple devices, but I really must have local mirroring, so I’m not dead in the water if there’s a power outage or an Internet outage.

I’m sure we will be forced to accept the update at some point in the coming months, but since there is no upside to doing it (it enables no new functionality) and there is a list of a dozen downsides you may as well wait as long as possible before doing it. You just have to put up with the red badge and a once a day reminder notification.


I tried the simlink hack for Google Drive and for the entire CloudStorage folder, and it didn’t work. It’s going to be rough going over here for a bit, managing almost 100TB of cloud storage and not being able to keep the index files externally. I hope Google offers a workaround soon. That beta touch hack was a lifesaver for a while but now it’s patched. :sob:

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I don’t use Google Drive or Dropbox or iCloud or Box, which I suppose makes me perfectly Internet Qualified™ to comment on this topic, but the thought occurred to me that if one wished to dedicate an external drive for cloud storage purposes, one might be able to get away with mounting the drive itself (which I’ve called /dev/disk99 here) as the cloud storage directory, for example:

mount -t apfs /dev/disk99 ~/Library/CloudStorage/

Don’t try this at home, folks, unless you’ve spent enough time with Unix filesystems to understand the implications. For instance, you would almost certainly want to unmount the volume from the /Volumes/ directory first. There are opportunities for data loss! But it is much more likely to work than symlinks.

I will try it if I get some time, but I’m on a product release push so it might be a month or more.

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That seems like a reasonable thing to try. It’s hard to imagine in advance if there would be gotchas.

Whoa, that’s an interesting quirk. I ran into something similar in Dropbox some years ago. I haven’t retested recently to see if it has been fixed.

The hotkey is configurable if you click the Google Drive icon in the menu bar, click the gear icon in the window that appears, click Preferences in the menu that appears, click the gear icon in the next window that appears, and scroll down.

100 terabytes, seriously?

Thanks Adam. On my newish system it was there and clicked, but it was CMD + Option + Control + G !! One more key. So I’ll leave it that way, now I know where it is. And that was quite some drilling down to find it, thanks.

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Having trouble finding context for this message. I’m interested because I’ve long complained that aliases created on the Mac within iCloud Drive don’t work on my iPhone, so interested in this topic. What article?

OK, I got a reply back from the folks at Sync regarding CloudStorage…for those of you not familiar with Sync it’s similar to what DropBox does…except it encompasses the two rules PIE (Pre Internet Encryption) and TNO (Trust No One) that Steve Gibson espouses and he switched from DropBox to Sync a year or two back because of those features. The drawback of these rules is that there is no syncing of just the changed portions of a document since it’s already fully encrypted on your devices…so a change means the whole thing gets synced again…if you have large files that get synced and slow connectivity that might be a consideration.

Sync offers a free tier which gives you 6 GB of space and that allows you to put the Sync folder anywhere you want…and all files are synced to all devices so there’s no online only option as DB has.

In addition…they offer paid tiers starting at 60 bucks a year for 200GB and 96 for 2 TB and then up from there. The paid tiers offer the option of having online only files to save space on your local drive…but that option requires that the Sync folder be located in CloudStorage. Paid tiers also offer the option to put the Sync folder anywhere…but if it’s not in CloudStorage and say on an external disk then the online option only is not available. However…paid accounts offer the option per computer to use CloudStorage or another local drive so one could use CloudStorage on your small disk laptop for instance and an external drive on your desktop at home so you could backup the whole Sync folder separately as desired.

That approach really seems like it’s a good idea to me…offering both options to the user…and I also like the PIE/TNO options it offers as well. I’ll likely stay with DropBox and all files both local and cloud until it becomes an issue for me which isn’t that likely IMO. However…if it does then Sync is a perfectly viable option to replace it.