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iCloud Documents sync for Snow Leopard, using DropBox Apps
For various reasons, I will not switch to Lion on my work MacBook Pro for a while. Still, I am interested to share some of my documents over iCloud between my iPad/iPhone/MBP (running Snow Leopard), and I also have an iMac at home running Lion.

What I did on my iMac running Lion is to link (with ln -s) the iCloud 'Mobile Documents' folder (in ~/Library) to my Dropbox folder with something like (substitute the actual user's short name for 'username' in the command):

ln -s /Users/username/Library/Mobile Documents /Users/username/Dropbox/iCloud

Then, on the MacBook Pro, the shared documents are available in the ~/DropBox/iCloud folder.

For example GoodReader on the iPad has iCloud support, so I can directly put PDFs from my MacBook Pro in this directory, and they appear directly in GoodReader. As soon as other iOS programs support Documents on iCloud, this will be extended to them as well.

You can also use this with iWork documents, but beware, make sure you put a copy of the documents from your OSX machine to iCloud, as reading them under IOS 5 changes the format irreversibly (for now).

Note: This of course requires your Lion machine to be on and connected.

[crarko adds: This is similar to the method of this previous hint, and the same caveats apply. Since doing the procedure described in these hints are unsupported by Apple, there is a possibility that you'll lose files/folders placed in ~/Library/Mobile Documents if changes to the underlying structure occur. So proceed at your own risk, and be sure there are backup copies of the files you try this with.

For my own use, since I don't make use of iCloud at this time, I just do my sharing directly in Dropbox, which of course is limited to those apps which support it. But GoodReader, mentioned above, fortunately has excellent Dropbox support. As a counterexample, iWork (for iOS) does not.]
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iCloud Documents sync for Snow Leopard, using DropBox
Authored by: wallybear on Nov 28, '11 01:30:28PM

Beware the space between "Mobile" and "Documents"!


ln -s /Users/username/Library/Mobile Documents /Users/username/Dropbox/iCloud


ln -s "/Users/username/Library/Mobile Documents" /Users/username/Dropbox/iCloud

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iCloud Documents sync for Snow Leopard, using DropBox
Authored by: Wuffel on Nov 28, '11 03:04:07PM

Out of curiosity, far from criticizing, what reasons are you referring to?

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iCloud Documents sync for Snow Leopard, using DropBox
Authored by: felix-fi on Nov 30, '11 05:31:37AM

Because I read:

and could not find any compelling reasons (even internal hidden ones) to make the switch on my "production" machine from SL to Lion.

(but I did not mind doing it for a Desktop at home mostly used by my kids).

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Watch out!
Authored by: rdj on Nov 29, '11 05:28:50AM

Unless DropBox syncing has changed since I last tested it, there's a wrinkle (synckle?) when you add a symlink to DropBox: DropBox doesn't "see" changes to files referenced by (i.e. "under") the symbolic link that you create with "ln -s". To get DropBox to scan for these changes, you need to "modify" the link itself. A command like "touch ~/DropBox/iCloud", where "iCloud" is the symlink, would do this, but you must remember to do this each time.

Perhaps DropBox might (or already has, perhaps?) change their scanning algorithm to follow symlinks...

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Watch out!
Authored by: felix-fi on Nov 30, '11 04:56:25AM

I confirm it works with the version Dropbox I use (1.2.48).

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iCloud Documents sync for Snow Leopard, using DropBox
Authored by: sensel on Nov 29, '11 09:29:32AM

I too am not going to Lion for a variety of reasons related to a vital high quality USB film scanner I use and other vital programs that are not updated and never will be. After many years backing up off site and syncing on MobileMe (and its other names), I am no longer doing so. So I am looking at the Amazon cloud as an option. Just wish there was a "drop box" like app for OS X 10.6.8 for Amazon!

I think Apple blew it by not offering OS X 10.6 users a way to use iCloud easily. I'd have signed up and paid by now. Then, in a year or two, when I update my Macs, I'd be switched to Lion or whatever feline name they use by then. Instead, I am sniffing around Amazon as a viable and cheaper option than iCloud, Drop Box, and other services.

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iCloud Documents sync for Snow Leopard, using DropBox
Authored by: felix-fi on Nov 30, '11 05:18:16AM

I am the original poster of this hint (I forgot to login before submitting).

With respect to iCloud deleting files, at least the files can be recovered under DropBox (on the web site, you can recover deleted files during a month).

Indeed many program have a good DropBox support, but using this iCloud/DropBox trick saves you pulling and pushing to DropBox on IOS5. The two folders (GoodReader iCloud one, and the SL OSX DropBox one) remain the same all the time.

Note that this hint can also be used to synchronize iCloud subdirectories between different iCloud users (by having the same directory shared among them under their own DropBox account).

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Hi! I liked your post about Dropbox
Authored by: chococake on Dec 06, '11 04:49:58PM

After reading your posts about Mobile Documents in Lion, I wanted to ask you a theoretical question about Dropbox and Mobile Documents. This would make a useful post for somebody so please tell me what you think. My question is what would happen if you simply placed your Dropbox inside the Mobile Documents folder? Would Pages documents inside the Dropbox sync with iCloud, or must they be located in specific subdirectories within Mobile Documents in order to sync? Here's why I ask. I have to collaborate with a team member on the other side of the world who works with hundreds of pages documents. Years ago I gave him a core 2 duo macbook which he still uses today. My system is a Gen. 1 intel iMac which is stuck on Snow Leopard since the Core Duo chip is 32 bit only. I also have an ipad 2 and ipod touch 4th gen. Ideally we would be able to sync through iCloud with ease, but my Mac (the most important system) is left out the loop. I haven't instructed him to upgrade to Lion yet because we've been able to use Dropbox to share documents (albeit slowly with the slow import process on the ipad 2.) That's why I'm asking this question. Can we simply locate the dropbox within his mobile documents folder(Lion,) and get that to automatically sync with iCloud? Or, would iCloud and Mobile Documents have special issues containing and syncing a Dropbox folder. Thanks and I hope you're able to answer, as Apple Care does not offer support for Dropbox, and you seem to be the most clever person out there dealing with this issue.

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Hi! I liked your post about Dropbox
Authored by: felix-fi on Dec 07, '11 07:34:21AM

This is my current understanding:

Unfortunately, iCloud is organizing the ~/Library/Mobile Documents folder per applications... so if you put the whole DropBox in it, application will not see the documents in their specific subfolder. You have to properly dispatch each application-documents in the app/documents folder.

Moreover, for now, putting iWork documents in the Mobile Documents/... keynote, numbers or pages subdirectory is very risky, as IOS 5 version of these apps change the document format which make them unreadable under the OSX version of iWork apps.

So for now, I would refrain of putting the whole Dropbox folder into it...

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