This is what happens if you try to put a folder named ‘Dropbox’ in iCloud Drive

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A dropped box
A dropped box.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Dropbox is getting increasingly bloated and annoying — on the Mac, at least. When iOS 13 ships later this year, you’ll be able to share whole iCloud folders with other people, so you can ditch DropBox altogether. But how will you switch?

One thing you can’t do is just drag your Dropbox folder into iCloud Drive. iCloud just won’t let you. In fact, you can’t even create a new folder and name it “Dropbox.” WTF?

Dropbox banned from iCloud Drive

Try to create a Dropbox folder in iCloud Drive. In the Mac’s Finder, or in iOS’ Files app, create a new folder and name it “Dropbox.” You can’t, right? This oddity was noted by Ole Begemann on Twitter (and shared by Michael Tsai).

On iOS, the Files app just won’t let you create a folder named “Dropbox.” If you try, you will see this warning:

Don't even bother trying to create a Dropbox folder in iCloud Drive.
Don’t even bother.
Photo: Cult of Mac

MacOS lets you create a folder named Dropbox, but it won’t let you use it.

'Dropbox' is on a list of banned folder names.
“Dropbox” is apparently on a list of banned folder names.
Photo: Cult of Mac

WTH iCloud Drive?

What’s happening here? Well, the practical answer might be that Apple is preventing users from dragging their entire root-level Dropbox folder into iCloud drive, and choking things up. This would count for both deliberate and accidental drags.

Behind the scenes, Dropbox appears to be on a list of disallowed iCloud folder names. Software engineer Flo Vimart pointed out on Twitter that he recalls “decompiling the iCloud Drive binary and seeing ‘Dropbox’ string part of a blacklist.” Here’s the list:

The iCloud blacklist

Dropbox isn’t the only blacklisted folder name. “OneDrive” and “IDrive-Sync” also made the list of banned folder names. And if you visit Stack Exchange, you’ll see a list of all the folder names you cannot use in iCloud Drive:

None of these file/folder names will work in iCloud Drive.
None of these file/folder names will work in iCloud Drive.
Photo: Cult of Mac

That list, posted by Stack Exchange user Malcolm Hall (aka Malhal), also includes file extensions that iCloud does not allow.

This whole setup seems quite sensible. If you take a look at Hall’s list, there’s not really anything on there you’d want to use. It’s also pretty easy to imagine things getting tied in knots if you try to use these system-reserved names for your own files and folders.

How to move from Dropbox to iCloud Drive

So, long story short, how do you switch from Dropbox to iCloud drive? You can either drag the individual folders from one service to the other, or simply rename the Dropbox folder before you move it.