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Update Dropbox for Mountain Lion

Dropbox has long claimed that they have auto-updating of the Dropbox application, but for many people, it doesn’t seem to work. This is sometimes explained by Dropbox rolling out the updates over a week or so, or by there being interim updates that Dropbox doesn’t release via the auto-update mechanism. But the simple fact remains that when I started writing this article on 14 August 2012, we had a Mac running version 1.1.45, another running 1.2.52, and four running version 1.4.7, released on 24 May 2012. And that’s under all versions of Mac OS X from 10.5 Leopard to 10.8 Mountain Lion.

(To determine what version you’re running, hover over the Dropbox menu bar icon to see a yellow tooltip with the version number and status, or, for older versions, choose Preferences from the Dropbox menu and look in the Account pane.)

So I was a little perturbed to see that the current version of Dropbox is 1.4.12 from 26 July 2012, with release notes that outdo even Apple for useless brevity: “Mountain Lion support.” Since a number of our Macs are now running Mountain Lion, “support,” whatever that means, would be nice, given how heavily we rely on Dropbox for collaboration. To be fair, we hadn’t noticed any problems with any of the older versions of Dropbox, but with any cloud-based service, staying up to date is important in case there are any security updates buried under those three-word release notes.

Of course, realizing that our Macs were running obsolete versions of Dropbox was the necessary signal to cause two of the six to update themselves to 1.4.12 the very next day — three full weeks after the initial release — but the others remain stuck at older versions. Sigh…

My feeling is that if you have Dropbox 1.4.something, it will probably update itself eventually, but if your Mac is stuck in the 1.1 or 1.2 range (there was no 1.3 range that I see in Dropbox’s release history), I recommend downloading the latest version and installing it manually. Luckily, this is easy.

Go to the Download Dropbox page, where you can always get the latest stable release. Once you’ve downloaded and mounted the Dropbox disk image, be sure to quit the running copy of Dropbox, by choosing Quit Dropbox from the Dropbox menu, before you drag the new Dropbox application into your Applications folder and launch it. That’s it.

That this problem with automatic updates has lasted for so long with Dropbox is unnecessary. Dropbox could simply add a Check for Updates command to the Dropbox menu, or, if that’s deemed too geeky for average users, a Check for Updates button could be added to Dropbox’s Advanced preference pane. Then any user concerned about being out of date could check for and initiate an update easily, rather than having to poke around on Dropbox’s Web site.

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