Dropbox Files Not Showing Up

Most problems will appear in “view sync issues,” which you can find in the account dropdown menu by right-clicking the Dropbox icon in the system tray. This will contain access issues and file name. 2 days ago  My company recently upgraded my iMac to one with the Big Sur OS (v11.2.3) and none of the images in my Camera Uploads folder, for example, are showing thumbnail pics, only generic icons for JPGs. However, if I open up an image and close it, then a thumbnail picture shows. With Dropbox Smart Sync, free up precious hard drive space by sending files to the cloud. Even though they are cloud synced and stored, you’ll still be able to view every folder and file from your desktop. And when you want to access them, the files will sync automatically. You will have to install a sync client for Windows desktop that lets you work on files in Dropbox with the Office desktop applications. You may refer to the section “Does Microsoft also plan to add the ability to add Dropbox integration into the Office desktop apps?” in the following article and check if it helps.

Uploading

1. Is Dropbox is installed on your computer?

If Dropbox is installed, you’ll see the icon in your taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac), or your computer’s list of applications. If you don’t see Dropbox in either of these locations, then Dropbox is not installed.

  • If Dropbox isn’t installed: Install the desktop application, and sign in with your Dropbox username and password.

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 2.

2. Is Dropbox running?

If Dropbox is installed and running, you’ll see the icon in your taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac), and this icon will be black or show syncing status. If the icon is grey, then Dropbox isn’t running.

  • If the tray or menu icon is grey: Either you're not connected to the internet, or else Dropbox isn't set to run at startup. Check that you’re online, and that the Dropbox app is set to run at startup (see documentation for your specific operating system to learn how).

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 3.

3. Are you online?

The Dropbox desktop application can only sync files if your computer is online.

  • If your computer isn’t online: Check your computer’s internet connection, and re-connect if needed. (You can still work offline with files in the Dropbox folder on your computer. These files will sync to the Dropbox service the next time your computer is online.)

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 4.

4. Are you using selective sync?

Selective sync is a feature that allows you to select which files sync from dropbox.com to the Dropbox folder on your computer. This saves hard drive space. To see if the files missing from your computer were selectively synced:

  1. Open the Account tab.
  2. Click Change Settings...
    • Do you see the folder you’re missing, or the folder that contained the files you’re missing? Be sure to check that the folder’s name exactly matches the name on dropbox.com. Does it have a blue checkmark next to it, or a different icon?
    • If the box beside your folder has anything other than a blue checkmark, you may be experiencing a selective sync conflict.

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 5.

5. Have you restarted your computer?

Sometimes restarting your computer will reset your internet connection and allow Dropbox to sync properly.

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 6.

6. Have you restarted the Dropbox desktop app?

Sometimes quitting and relaunching the Dropbox app will restart sync. To do so:

  1. Click the Dropbox icon in your taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac), and then click your profile picture or initials.
  2. Click Quit Dropbox.
  3. Open your applications menu, re-launch Dropbox, and then sign in again (if necessary).

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 7.

7. Are the files in a shared folder?

If the files that aren't syncing are in a shared folder, there are two common reasons: either you’re no longer a member of that shared folder, or else there’s a different version of the file in that folder.

  • If you’re missing a shared folder: Check the list of folders you can re-add to your Dropbox.
  • If you’re a member of a shared folder but a file is missing or won’t sync: Check that a folder member didn’t drag the file out of the shared folder. It’s also possible that a shared folder member made edits to a copy of the file, rather than the version that’s in the shared folder.
Files

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 8.

8. Are you signed in to the same Dropbox account on all your devices?

Sync only works when you’re signed in to the same Dropbox account across your computer, phone, tablet, and dropbox.com.

If the addresses are different (look carefully for typos), then you have multiple accounts and your devices will not sync. To fix this sign out and then sign in again with the correct account.

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 9.

9. Have you checked your file names?

If a file name has an incompatible character, it will prevent sync from working. Check some of the common character issues for the file you’re having trouble with:

  • Files with the following characters in the titles are incompatible with all operating systems:
    • “/” (forward slash) and “” (back slash)
  • Files with the following characters in the titles are incompatible with Windows:
    • “<” (less than), “>” (greater than), “:” (colon), “ ' ” (quotation mark), “ ” (pipe stem), “?” (question mark), “*” (asterisk)
  • Certain language-specific characters will not work on some operating systems.
  • Macs, Windows computers, and Excel spreadsheets have specific file-name characters limits.

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 10.

10. Have you signed out and signed in again?

Sometimes signing out and then signing in again will fix the connection issue. Follow the steps in this article to sign out and sign into your account.

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 11.

11. Does your computer have enough hard drive space to sync?

If your computer’s hard drive is low on storage space, then files can’t sync from Dropbox. (Note: this is different than Dropbox storage space.) To check your hard drive space:

  • On a Mac computer: Check the Apple support site for instructions specific to your version of macOS.
  • On a Windows computer: Check the Microsoft support site for instructions specific to your version of Windows.

If your computer has insufficient hard drive space, you can delete files to free up storage space. Or you can enable selective sync, which backs up files to Dropbox while saving hard drive space.

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 12.

12. Do you use security or antivirus software?

The Dropbox desktop app uses the '.dropbox.cache' folder as a temporary location to download your files in small chunks. Sometimes antivirus programs will pick up these partial files as false positives and continuously quarantine them. Dropbox will then continually download the file in an attempt to sync it to your device, which can use extra space.

  • Add the Dropbox cache folder to an ignore list on your security/antivirus software. You can also temporarily disable this software. Once synced, you should no longer see these warnings or quarantine messages. Note that unlike other folders in Dropbox, the '.dropbox.cache' folder should have a red X on it. This folder does not need to sync.

If you’re still having trouble, move on to step 13.

13. Do you use system optimization software?

If Dropbox is stuck syncing (with no sync speed in the status of your taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac), but not making any progress, it’s possible an antivirus or system optimization app is interfering with the Dropbox app. If you’re using any of this software, consider adding Dropbox to that app's whitelist. You can also try disabling the antivirus or optimization app and restarting Dropbox.

If whitelisting and restarting don’t work, you can contact the software maker:

  • Panda Global Protection (Windows): Contact Panda support
  • ESET NOD32 (Windows): Contact ESET support
  • McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8.8 (Windows): Contact McAfee support
  • TuneUp Utilities (Windows): Contact TuneUp support

None of these steps worked—what do I do next?

If you've tried each of the fixes in this article, and still find that your files or devices aren't syncing, please contact us.

The status icons in the taskbar or menu bar of your computer

There are a several Dropbox icons that appear in your taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac). Depending on your operating system, these icons may be different colors.

Synced

If the Dropbox app is fully synced, the icon is solid, either black or white depending on your operating system.

Sync in progress

If Dropbox is in the process of syncing, the icon appears with a syncing symbol in the lower right corner.

Paused

If the Dropbox app is paused, the icon is faded with a paused symbol in the lower right corner.

Not connected

If the Dropbox app on your computer can't connect to Dropbox servers, the icon is faded.

Notifications

If you have unread notifications, the icon has a red dot in the lower left corner with a number indicating the number of notifications. If you have more than 99 notifications, the icon has a red dot with 99+ in the lower left corner.

Camera import

If you are uploading from a camera, the icon has a camera in the lower right corner while the upload is in process.

What to do if the Dropbox icon is missing in the taskbar or menu bar

The Dropbox icon will only appear in your taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac) if the Dropbox desktop app is downloaded to your computer and running. Occasionally, the Dropbox icon will seem to disappear, but this only means that the desktop app isn’t running.

To resolve this, first try launching the app again. If this doesn’t work, you can download (or re-download) the Dropbox desktop app and sign in to your Dropbox account when prompted. To relaunch the app:

Dropbox Is Not Uploading

  • Windows: Click the Start menu, then click Programs, then find and run the Dropbox app
  • Mac: Open the Applications folder, then find and run the Dropbox app
  • Linux: Click the Applications menu, then open the Internet folder, then find and run the Dropbox app

What to do if the Dropbox sync icons are missing from your files

If you don't see Dropbox syncing icons on your files, there can be a few possible explanations. But the most likely one is that Dropbox shut down unexpectedly and is no longer running. To check if Dropbox is running, look for the Dropbox icon in your taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac). If it’s not running, see the instructions in the section above to re-launch or re-download.

Dropbox Files Not Showing Up In File Explorer

If you've verified that Dropbox is running, but you’re still having issues with sync icons on your files, here are some other possible explanations:

  • Start Dropbox on system startup is unchecked in your preferences, or Dropbox was forced to quit
  • You’re looking at an inactive Dropbox folder in its previous location
    • This can happen if you've ever changed the location of your Dropbox folder
    • The easiest way to find your Dropbox folder is to click the Dropbox icon in your taskbar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac), and then click Open Dropbox Folder
  • You need to restore the Dropbox operating system defaults by installing Dropbox again
    • Installing and signing-in again will fix most issues with sync icons
  • You may have a corrupted settings file
    • Signing out and then back in to your computer should fix this issue

Dropbox Files Not Showing Up On Ipad

There are a few other explanations for why the sync icons might not work on a specific operating system. Click your operating system below to learn more: