Two of the world’s most widely used online storage services, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive, are warning Mac users of a looming problem in a coming macoS Monterey update.

You’ll need to download files to use them for a while

They warn that some users may have problems when attempting to open files stored in either service using another Mac application. They urge customers to update their apps once macOS 12.3 is installed.

Once you install that version of Monterey, when you attempt to open a file stored online from within an application, the process will fail. The only way around this (at least, until you update the file storage app) is to manually download archived files for use on their Mac via the Finder. The problem will be resolved when OneDrive and/or Dropbox are udpated.

The issue may relate to mandatory use of the FileProvider framework by services, which Box already supports and Microsoft recently migrated to with OneDrive. This should make for a more Mac-like user experience for online storage apps of this kind, but it seems plausible to anticipate some other changes.

Apple developers can watch the WWDC 2021 video detailing the FileProvider framework.

What about iCloud?

What’s curious about this, of course, is that the warning from both online storage providers comes as iCloud users experience multiple errors in that service.This rather suggests Apple is changing something fundamental here, while the secrecy around the operation is bound to create consternation.

Perhaps this is being overblown. If Dropbox and Microsoft are correct, most business users won’t need to worry too much, as they can continue to download items directly to their Mac to continue to work, and updates should ship relatively fast.

The problem is that users will need to ensure they can install any updated versions of either OneDrive or Dropbox once they ship following release of the next macOS Monterey update. This could be an issue for some enterprises who may practice more restrictive app installation regimes.

IT must be ready to vet Dropbox, OneDrive updates

While the most-locked-down businesses probably won’t permit corporate use of consumer-focused storage services, some will. For those that do, tech support must be ready to test and approve macOS software updates and any subsequent OneDrive and Dropbox updates when they ship.

They’ll need to do so to protect company productivity for businesses that do use the services. (Some MDM vendors may already be taking steps to be prepared for this.)

One known unknown is the extent to which other online file storage systems might be affected. While OneDrive and Dropbox are certainly the market leaders, a plethora of smaller service providers offer similar systems for specific enterprise markets.

I’ve come across no warning from Box, or even Google Drive, on this. It is, of course, worth noting that Box already makes use of FileProvider, though we don’t know for certain that’s the issue in play here.

When is it coming?

Enterprises using other online storage providers should contact those services to ensure they will not be hit by whatever changes are taking place, as the time frame suggested by Dropbox hints the problem may manifest any time from late February.

Apple is currently working on macOS 12.2, with version 12.3 set to begin beta testing soon after that.

Mac users who are part of the Apple Beta Software Program who install test software on their primary working Mac might want to delay installation of macOS 12.3 beta if lack of on-demand file access will be a problem. This is because Dropbox, Microsoft, and any other affected storage provider will almost certainly not ship their fix until the release candidate of the OS appears.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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