Getting rid of the DropBox QuickLook plugin

I got an email from a customer yesterday telling me that Default Folder X had stopped displaying preview images of his new-format Microsoft Office documents. It still worked for the older formats like doc, xls and ppt files, but not docx, xlsx and pptx. Because Default Folder X uses QuickLook to generate the big previews it shows below file dialogs, we did a little poking around on his Mac to figure out what was going wrong with QuickLook.

It turns out that a new beta of DropBox (version 54.3.86) installs its own QuickLook generator plugin that overrides the system-supplied plugin for generating a number of file and image formats – including those MS Office files. OK, fine – just delete it, right? That worked until he restarted his Mac, then DropBox launched at login and promptly (and silently) reinstalled its QuickLook plugin again. I guess it knows what’s best for us, eh?

After a little thought, we arrived at this solution:

  1. Delete the DropBox QuickLook generator plugin
  2. Create an empty file at that location to prevent DropBox from reinstalling it

Fortunately, QuickLook is smart enough to realize that an empty file isn’t going to help it generate previews, and just defaults back to the other plugins it has. Problem solved!

The easiest way to do this is to open Terminal and execute these three commands:

rm -r ~/Library/QuickLook/DropboxQL.qlgenerator
touch ~/Library/QuickLook/DropboxQL.qlgenerator
qlmanage -r

A nice simple solution once you get it figured out. I imagine this is one of those problems that’s going to crop up for a lot of people, but isn’t quite obnoxious enough to get them to hunt down a solution. So there you go 🙂

11 Responses to “Getting rid of the DropBox QuickLook plugin”

  1. Alex Olmsted says:

    You know…I’ve spent about 1 month trying to figure this out and this is the ONLY website that has offered a complete solution. You now have my undying love x infinity.

    My issue was that, even though I was turning off “finder Integration” in the Dropbox preferences and restarting, my QuickLook was still not working. I also flushed the QL cache in Terminal about a million times but to no avail.

    THIS solution worked! I even turned on DB Finder Integration and now THAT works too! Why the hell DB can’t post this fix on their own site is beyond me.

    They just say, “Hey we know about it…we’re working on it….” , Redunculous.

    • Jon says:

      I’m glad it helped! I was surprised it hadn’t been covered on one of the Mac news sites, but as I said, I guess it’s just an annoyance – not high enough priority to merit a big investigation unless you just happen to be obsessive about those kind of things 🙂

  2. MP says:

    Thank you for posting this, it fixed my issue as well.

  3. avs640 says:

    Thank you! It took forever to solve this issue, this is the only thing that works!

  4. drjal67 says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve long discovered the plugin as source for my trouble, but your solution really helps a lot to prevent mindless repetitive tasks. Thumbs up!!

  5. hrp says:

    Thank you so much! Saved me hours of trying to figure out how to solve this annoying problem! Thanks!!

  6. David Julian says:

    Like many above, this problem vexed me to no end on my iMacPro, especially as it did not affect my MacBook Pro Laptop running the same OSX and software.

    Apple tech support level 3 (Engineering) could not point to a terminal string to fix it.
    They said “delete all affected files, uninstall DropBox and all associated invisible files, reinstall DropBox, restart and re-populate all affected files.” Yeah right. With 176gb of affected files, I wanted nothing to do with that.

    Thank God for StClair’s easy solution! Do we love Default Folder or what?!

  7. mike says:

    Incredible. There are so many threads talking about this with tons of potential solutions, this is the only fix I could get to work. Thank you OP!

  8. Rajko says:

    OMG, thank you so much. I was also browsing and trying solutions for hours until I found this one. it just works!!!

  9. Largo says:

    now using MacBook Big Sur OS.
    I tried the command in Terminal, but it doesn’t seem to work.

    • Jon says:

      Those commands should still work fine. They do when I test them on Big Sur here. Are you getting some sort of error message when you use them?

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