Smart Folders to fix Dropbox Limitation

I’ve complained several times since Dropbox updated their client that the new UI is lacking in one significant respect: the number of recent files shown is only 3, and that is not configurable in any way:

Dropbox 1

For someone who uses Dropbox for actual work, this is laughable—if we’re away from our computer for a few hours, a dozen or more files could easily be uploaded or edited. Even if we don’t have to take action on those files, it’s good to stay up to date on what’s going on.

If you’re using OS X, the best way to do so is to set up a Smart Folder. Mine uses the following parameters:

Dropbox 2

Open the Finder and select your Dropbox folder, then hit File -> New Smart Folder.

Personally, I want to see anything updated in the last 24 hours, so I select the option of "Last Modified Date" and set it to "Within last 1 day." This also will display files that were created within the last day, as well.

Then click Save, and be sure that the "Add to Sidebar" option is ticked.

BTW, if you’d like to tell Dropbox that you want more recent files, I started a thread about this on their feature request forum a few months ago.

Any other things you do to make Dropbox more productive for you? Share ’em in the comments!


  1. Love it.

    Personally I’m so alten Schule that I still rely on RSS. I’m subscribed to for an overview of everything that happens. But I also have some RSS feeds that are specific to a particular shared folder. The same Dropbox page also allows filtering via a calendar too. Nice.

  2. This is a great tip; I keep forgetting how useful Smart Folders can be. Thanks!

    Did you know that if you hold the Option key down when clicking on the Dropbox menu bar icon, you get the old menu style back?

  3. Jay: Yup! I didn’t like the new menu at first, but it’s grown on me — and Dropbox has improved it. For example, if you hover over “Up to Date” you can pause syncing with one click, instead of digging through the gear menu.

    I often pause dropbox syncing if I’m rapidly working on a bunch of files at once, or if I’m exporting proof PDF files, that sort of thing — because I want to double check them before I upload them to colleagues, but I don’t want to export them to my desktop, and then move them to dropbox. Easier to pause dropbox! I also pause it if if a colleague is rapidly updating files and I don’t need to see all those alerts. 🙂

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