Hack to mark newly added files in local Dropbox directory.
Python Shell
Latest commit 6b6c3dd Oct 24, 2013 @sagarrakshe Small correction


What is delta-dropbox?

As they say, Neccesity is the mother of Invention!. Story behind delta-dropbox.py is, I had a shared folder in dropbox with few friends for a project. All of them used to add many files, directories to these folder. Now when these files used to get sync with my local Dropbox directory, Dropbox used to notify me.


But dropbox specifies the total no. of files added to dropbox but it doesn't specifies which files and where they were added. I need to figure out which files were added and where. Consider a case where 100 files are changed in your dropbox folder! It would be tedious.

So delta-dropbox.py is a hack that marks (adds status-icon) these newly added files. On subsequent execution unmarks the previously marked files and then mark newly added, modified files if any.
The star on Temp denotes it was recently added. To guide to the changed file, all files or directories are marked in the path. In this case the path is Dropbox/Experiment/Temp so Dropbox, Experiment and Temp will be marked. So user is guided when he enters in Dropbox folder to the file.


I have used the /delta api of dropbox to get the list of changed files. And to set status-icon the gvfs-set-attribute command is used.


Basically, the code will work only if the command gvfs-set-attribute works on your machine because this command sets the file attribute. So to test whether it works or not follow the steps:

$ git clone https://github.com/sagarrakshe/delta-dropbox
$ cd delta-dropbox
$ sh test.sh

Nautilus will open, if a status-icon is added to the test.sh(star or plus icon depending upon the version of gnome-shell) then it's fine. See the image below. Else try refreshing the nautilus even if it doesn't set then the code won't work for you.





You can install using pip:

$ sudo pip install dropbox

Dropbox App Setup

Follow these steps to setup Dropbox app:

  1. You will need to create Dropbox app. Create an app here dropbox app. Follow the steps and set the permission type of the app. Note While creating Dropbox App, select Dropbox API App else delta API execution will fail
  2. On successful creation of app, Dropbox will provide with app_key and app_secret. Do not publicize these app credentials.
  3. Insert the app_key and app_secret in the client.json file.


  • Run the setup.py file.
  • It will open a link in browser.
  • Click Allow to give access to that app. Copy the given code and paste in the terminal.
  • On successful execution of setup.py, it will print access_tokenand user_id.
  • Add access_token and user_id to client.json.
  • Two new files will be created by setup.py, cursor and entries. (don't delete them!)
  • Add your Dropbox directory path to path.json file.(like mine is /home/sagar/Dropbox)
  • Now run the file delta-dropbox.py. It will take time to execute, depending on the total files in your dropbox folder.


Now add few files to your dropbox directory, let it sync with the cloud or add files to cloud and let it sync with local directory. On complete sync run delta-dropbox.py

$ python delta-dropbox.py

Open nautilus or refresh it. Check if the added files got marked or not.


  • Tested only on Ubuntu, (will work where gvfs-set attribute works).
  • Execute delta-dropbox.py only when Dropbox has sync all files or Dropbox folder status is Idle or else some files which are syncrhonizing may not be marked.
  • Need to execute the code manually.
  • Effects visible only in file browser(nautilus) and not in Terminal.