FAQ: How to safely share your Quicken Mac file on Dropbox

RickO SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta

Users often ask if they can safely store their
Quicken Mac data file on Dropbox. The answer is a qualified "yes'. To do
so safely, you must move the file to local storage (a location not synced to
Dropbox) before opening it in Quicken. Then you must move it back to Dropbox
after quitting Quicken. Here is the official policy:

Using Quicken via Dropbox (Official)

Manually moving your file from and to Dropbox will work, but it is
somewhat error prone. You may accidentally overwrite the newer file with an
older one. Below is a workflow that if followed, will reduce the likelihood of
this type of error. It also has the benefit of storing your Quicken backups offsite
(on Dropbox). The backups are stored in a compressed format which is less
likely to introduce system errors (such as permissions errors) that can occur
in uncompressed Quicken files.

For the sake of this discussion, we will assume that you have your
Quicken file stored locally on your iMac and you wish to also be able to
open and work with it on your MacBook Pro (MBP). We will assume your
file is called Finances.quicken2017. There are two parts to the
discussion below. SETUP only needs
to be done once to get started. OPERATION
describes how you will use the setup each time you want to work on your Quicken

SETUP: The following steps will set up the workflow. They only need to be
done once.

1) Compress your data file where it is locally stored on the iMac:
Right-click on the file icon and choose "Compress Finances.quicken2017".
This will create a file called "Finances.quicken.zip". If you don't
know the location of your Quicken file, see this: Location of Data File.


2) Move Finances.quicken2017.zip to Dropbox on
the iMac. If the iMac and MBP are logged into different Dropbox accounts, you
can setup a Dropbox shared folder in which to store the Quicken files: https://www.dropbox.com/help/files-folders/share-with-others. You may want to create a folder in Dropbox
called something like "Shared Quicken Files".

3) On the MBP, move Finances.quicken2017.zip to a local folder (a location that is
not synced to Dropbox). Then after
moving it, double click Finances.quicken2017.zip. This will create a new
Quicken file called Finances.quicken2017. This is an exact copy of your
original file on the iMac. You may now delete the .zip files on both computers.

4) On each of the computers, one at a time, do
the following:

open Quicken by double clicking the Finances.quicken2017 file.

click menu Quicken > Preferences. In the General tab, check the box to
Automatically backup when quitting. Click the Backup Folder button and set the
location to your Dropbox folder (e.g. Shared Quicken Files). You may choose to
be asked before backing up if you prefer and you may choose the number of
backup files to be kept on Dropbox.


Make any small change (e.g. add a character to a transaction’s memo or create
and delete a transaction) in the Quicken file and then quit Quicken to create a
new backup. (Quicken will not automatically backup unless the file has been

     d) repeat (a) through (c) on the other

5) You will now have two backups in the Shared
Quicken Files > Automatic Backups folder. Open this folder in the Finder,
set to list view and sort by date modified so that the most recent backup is
always at the top. It will look like this:


That’s it for setup. Now we will show how to
use this workflow in daily operation.


After setting things up as above, follow the steps below each time you want to
work in Quicken on either computer.

1) To
start working in Quicken, open your Automatic Backups folder within the Shared
Quicken Files folder. (You will probably want to put an alias to this folder on
the Desktop or in the Dock.) Double click the most recent backup file in your Shared Quicken Files > Automatic
Backups folder on Dropbox. (Do not
open the Quicken app itself and do not
open the Finances.quicken2017 file stored locally.) You will be asked if you
want to restore this backup:


2) Click
“Restore This File...”. You will then see the standard file save dialog which
will default to the local folder where your Quicken file is stored:


3) Verify
that the Where is pointed to where your file is stored locally and remove the “
2” that is added to the file name (it will then read “Finances.quicken2017”).
Click Restore.

4) You
will be asked if you want to replace the file. Click Replace:


Complete your work in Quicken and quit normally. The backup that is saved to
Dropbox will be the next one you restore on whichever computer you wish to work
on next.

Be careful not to
have the file open on both
machines at once because only the last one to quit will create the backup that
you restore next.

To summarize the workflow, we are storing Quicken’s automatic
backups in Dropbox. Each time we want to work on Quicken, we are restoring the
most recent automatic backup made on whichever computer last modified the Quicken
file. This ensures you are always working with a copy of the most recent file
on both machines.

This method satisfies the requirements of the official policy and
reduces the chance of user errors related to copying the file the wrong way to
or from Dropbox.



The examples above are for QM2017. If you are working in QM2018 or
later, the file extensions will be “.quicken” and “.quickenbackup” (without the
“2017”). The examples were done in macOS Sierra. Other
versions of macOS may differ slightly.

This workflow will only work with Quicken Mac 2017 or later (the
earlier versions do not have automatic backup).

Working on your file stored locally means that the file must be
stored in a folder on your Mac that is not
being synced to Dropbox (or any other file sharing service, such as iCloud
Drive). This means that the location cannot reside within the master Dropbox
folder on your hard drive. The fact that Dropbox stores a local copy of shared
files and folders is not sufficient.

Some users have reported that they store their actual data file in
Dropbox and open it directly from there and have not had problems. You should
be aware that this is not supported by Quicken (see official policy above) and
often eventually leads to file corruption. One cause of this corruption may be
opening the file on one machine while it was inadvertently left open on the
other. There may be other causes. This workflow prevents those problems.

This workflow should work with other file sharing cloud services
such as iCloud Drive, Box, etc. and long as they provide a local folder on the
Mac that is synced to their cloud.

If your Quicken file is stored in your Documents or Desktop folder,
and you are using macOS Sierra or later, be sure to check that these folders
are not set to sync to iCloud Drive in System Preferences. This will not be an
issue for Quicken’s default file location of ~/Library/Application

Quicken Mac Subscription; Quicken Mac user since the early 90s


  • RickO
    RickO SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    edited October 2017


    It is possible to further enhance the above workflow so that the
    restoration of the backup on each computer happens automatically in the
    background. Then all you will need to do is launch Quicken and you will always
    be using an updated copy of the data file on either machine.

    To accomplish this, we will use a third party tool called Hazel,
    $32, https://www.noodlesoft.com.

    Note: In theory, this should also be possible with the built-in free
    macOS Automator tool. However, I have been unable to get this to work reliably
    with Automator. If anyone has better luck, please let me know.

    This enhanced workflow uses the basic method above of storing your
    automatic backups generated by Quicken in a Dropbox (or other cloud service)

    After completing the setup
    steps in the original post above, here is how you set up Hazel to automatically
    unpack and restore your Quicken backups on both machines:

    After downloading, installing and registering Hazel, you will find
    its setting in the Mac’s System Preferences. To get started, open Hazel’s
    settings pane.

    1) Under the Folders section, click plus sign at the bottom to set up
    a new folder to be monitored:


    2) Navigate to the Automatic Backups folder within your Shared
    Quicken Files folder in Dropbox and click Open:


    Hazel will now
    monitor the Automatic Backups folder.

    3) With Automatic Backups selected in the Folders
    pane, click the plus sign at the bottom of the Rules pane. Name the new rule
    something like “Unpack Quicken Backup” and create the two conditions and four
    rule steps exactly as shown below:


    4) Important:
    For each of the Copy and Move steps, click the Options button
    and choose “replace the existing file”:


    The Copy To
    folder (Downloads in the example) is a
    temporary storage location. You can use any folder you like as long as it’s not within Dropbox and not the folder in which your Quicken
    files is stored.

    The Move To
    folder (Documents in the example) is
    where your main Quicken file is stored. This can be any folder on your computer
    as long as it is not within Dropbox.
    The default location used by Quicken is ~/Library/Application Support/Quicken/Documents.

    5) Repeat Steps 1 through 4 on the other computer.

    Now, whenever Quicken saves an automatic backup, it will automatically
    be unpacked and replace the main Quicken file on both computers. Be sure not to
    have the file open on both computers at the same time as the file left open
    will be overwritten and may become corrupted. Also, allow sufficient time for
    the Hazel processes to complete before re-opening the file.

    Note: This example was done for QM2018. If you are using
    QM2017, you will need to use “.quicken2017backup” for the file extension.   The examples were done in macOS Sierra. Other versions of macOS may
    differ slightly.


    Quicken Mac Subscription; Quicken Mac user since the early 90s
  • Unknown
    Unknown Member
    edited October 2018
    Rick this is actually something I have been considering.  Right now I have enough irons in the fire that I will wait until Spring or Summer.  
  • Quicken Kathryn
    edited October 2017
    TwoCybers said:

    Rick this is actually something I have been considering.  Right now I have enough irons in the fire that I will wait until Spring or Summer.  

    Moving to another conversation.

    Please reference the new conversation here: Using Dropbox with Quicken Mac
    Quicken Kathryn
    Community Administrator
  • Quicken Kathryn
    edited October 2017
    Hi All,
    If you have questions or comments about this article, please post here: https://getsatisfaction.com/quickencommunity/topics/procedure-to-store-qmac-file-on-dropbox

    Quicken Kathryn
    Quicken Kathryn
    Community Administrator
This discussion has been closed.