System: El-Capitan 10.11.5. Finder details of Dropbox folder

enter image description here

I deleted Dropbox from my PC. The directory size is 1.3GB although it contains only symlinks, by ls -laS

drwxr-xr-x+ 54 masi  staff  1836 May 29 14:28 ..
drwx------@ 23 masi  staff   782 May 28 16:31 .
drwxr-xr-x   5 masi  staff   170 May 28 16:31 .dropbox.cache
lrwxr-xr-x   1 masi  staff    47 May 17 18:15 Animations -> /Users/masi/Animations/
lrwxr-xr-x   1 masi  staff    41 May 17 17:42 Labs -> /Users/masi/Labs/
-rw-r--r--@  1 masi  staff     0 May 28 16:17 Icon?

I would like to understand and find out what is taking so much space in the directory which should be almost empty.

Answers to comments

MacBook-Air-3:Dropbox masi$ ls -laS .dropbox.cache/
total 0
drwxr-xr-x  814 masi  staff  27676 May 29 11:27 2016-05-28
drwx------@  23 masi  staff    782 May 28 16:31 ..
drwxr-xr-x    5 masi  staff    170 May 28 16:31 .
drwxr-xr-x    2 masi  staff     68 May 12 00:24 placeholder_cache
drwxr-xr-x    2 masi  staff     68 May 12 00:24 prefetch_cache

MacBook-Air-3:Dropbox masi$ ls -laS .dropbox
-rw-r--r--@ 1 masi  staff  35 May 12 00:24 .dropbox

Web interface has more content, about 20 GB.

How can Almost Empty Dropbox folder Take 1.3 GB Space?

  • What's in the .dropbox.cache directory? May 29, 2016 at 11:45
  • There's nothing evidently in the folder, right?
    – owlswipe
    May 29, 2016 at 11:48
  • What does it look like in the web interface?
    – mmmmmm
    May 29, 2016 at 11:50
  • I guess this may be irrelevant to you but, if you delete the Dropbox folder, since you have deleted the app, you will gain that space.
    – lnjuanj
    May 29, 2016 at 17:07
  • @Injuanj Please, see the wiki answer below after the removal of Dropbox directory. Surprising changes in filesystem. May 29, 2016 at 17:27

1 Answer 1


In the end after taking 3 backups of the system, I deleted the Dropbox Directory because

  • Dropbox can backfire and delete files/directories in local system if symlinks are used to Dropbox
  • Dropbox messes up OS X Extended hierarchy and takes significant amount of spaces although Dropbox uninstalled; I do not understand the details here.

I noticed surprising effects although I had deleted Dropbox application. Diskutility showed me 15 GB free space before the deletion of Dropbox Directory. I restarted my system many times to see if the case is really true. After removing Dropbox directory, I got 50 GB free space as I should. Dropbox is clearly messing up the filesystem more than many know. Replacement of Dropbox

  • VPN connection in router because software VPN unstable (at least NordVPN crashes all the time; TODO Tunnelblick) in OSX; software VPN in Ubuntu Linux 14.04 (not newer because systemd/upstart problem with runit) next to OSX installation
  • Goal to use Bittorent Sync with VPN [experimenting]. It experienced conflicts with Dropbox and my local ISP/governments because they block/obstruct torrent protocol.
  • ... [hope more comes here] ...
  • 1
    See owncloud.org as well May 29, 2016 at 17:33
  • @CousinCocaine Great! It would be great to get your review about it. I really need local storage. I keep cloud storage unsafe. I do not understand the technologies behind owncloud.org. Is it a company or organization? May 29, 2016 at 18:16
  • 1
    This comment section is not the correct place to discus this, but see owncloud as an opensource alternative to dropbox. You can host your own files for free. Do your research on google if it sounds interesting. May 29, 2016 at 18:19
  • If user land applications without special privileges can cause such file system corruptions, you should not blame the application, but the file system. HFS+ (Journaled) is not that broken by design, so if Dropbox seem to manage to hurt it, there is either a misunderstanding, or it's been broken before.
    – bot47
    May 30, 2016 at 3:48
  • @MaxRied I am not claiming anyone. I just say that Dropbox is not sufficient for my tasks anymore. There are many other things in Dropbox that are not documented etc and where the support/developers are not willing to answer because it is proprietary software. Their customer service is also very bad, very low response rate, although I pay them 200 euros every year. It is my time to move to owncloud. May 31, 2016 at 13:32

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