Starting Sync

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07 Mar, 2018 04:52 PM

I am using Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.3 (17D102) and MD2017.6 (1656). I have several questions relating to syncing but will split them into separate posts so any threaded answers do not become too complicated.
I am currently not syncing so my Mac is my primary machine. I am going to use Dropbox Connection. There is a .moneydancesync folder in Dropbox already from when I trialled MD2017 and did not realise that sync had been turned on.
In order to start sync am I right I should delete this folder before I enable sync on my Primary machine?
Also, I have read the starting sync KB article. How do I know sync has finished from the Primary machine before I enable sync on the secondary PC?
Many thanks....

  1. 1 Posted by tonyt on 08 Mar, 2018 07:47 AM

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    Can anyone hepl. this is urgent as I need the info to change the way I use MD and cant proceed without it. Thanks

  2. 2 Posted by derekkent23 on 08 Mar, 2018 09:48 AM

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    I am not support staff, just a user.

    First, on your primary computer do a FILE - EXPORT BACKUP.

    Assuming you purchased direct not through Apply it could be worth updating to the latest preview build, this has fixes relating to syncing. See

    You have a number of options regarding the syncing method. The syncing method “Shared Folder” is not discussed here. The other two syncing methods need a Dropbox Account, at least the free version. The best and most flexible option is called “Dropbox Folder”.
    However, if you did not purchase direct, but purchased through Apple, due to one of the restrictions Apply impose on Moneydance, you will have to use “Dropbox Connect” in the following steps. Dropbox Folder requires you to download and install Dropbox Client on all your computers. Dropbox Folder is more flexible. For example, with Dropbox Connection if you lose your internet connection when running Moneydance you could lose data. With Dropbox Connect a API in Moneydance talks direct to your Dropbox file in the cloud. Whereas with Dropbox Folder Moneydance talks to the local Dropbox folder on your hard drive created by the Dropbox client. Then syncs to your cloud Dropbox folder when the internet is available.
    The following is an explanation given by Sean the software developer regarding these two syncing methods, Dropbox Folder and Dropbox Connection.
    “With "Dropbox Connection" Moneydance uses the Dropbox API to talk to the Dropbox service directly. So, you don't need to have Dropbox client actually installed on your computer, but you do need to be online when Moneydance is running in order for changes to be synced. With "Drobox Folder" Moneydance will just read and write files to your Dropbox folder on your computer, which means that you need to have Dropbox client installed and running, but you don't need to be online in order for Moneydance to read and write the changes.” When syncing with 2017 you have a primary and a secondary computer. The data set is stored in the default location on the hard drive of your primary computer. See under HELP – SHOW DOCUMENT FOLDER. Your data set is a folder not a file. It contains other folders and files. The data set folder is named yourdatasetname.moneydance. In later build of 2017 you are prompted to allow Moneydance to automatically move your data set to the default location if Moneydance detects you have your data set in Dropbox. If you don’t allow your data to be moved it may become corrupted! DON’T STORE YOUR DATA SET IN DROPBOX or any other shared drive.

    Your second computer does not have the same data set as the primary computer. Its data set is created from data synced via Dropbox folder “.moneydancsync” created automatically by the primary computer. The folder “.moneydancesync” may be hidden, so if you are looking for it set whatever your file explorer is called to show hidden File/Folders. The data set has the same naming convention as the primary data set and is stored in the default location on the secondary computer’s hard drive, but it’s not a duplicate of the primary data set. They are not interchangeable. In normal operation Moneydance on your devices reads and writes to the Dropbox folder “.moneydancesync”, creating small transaction files (mdtxn files) in such a way that there should never be any conflicts (at least not to any important files). Filenames are unique and the data is encrypted using your sync key (“Encryption Passphrase”). All changes are recorded in this folder and if any of the changes cause conflicts then they are resolved by checking timestamps that are internal to the file (i.e. not the file modification date).
    Set Moneydances auto backup under FILE – PREFERENCES – BACKUPS to use Dropbox in case your computer hard drive fails. However, don’t use the same location as this will result in primary and secondary computers backups overwrite each other. Remember the data sets are not interchangeable.

    It a good idea to reset syncing if you have changed your syncing method or run into problems during syncing after checking you are running the latest build of 2017.

    1. If you have mobile devices use there setting menu to disconnect.

    2. Set primary computer “Sync Method” to “Don’t Sync” under FILE – SYNCING, then click OK.

    3. On your primary computer use FILE – EXPORT BACKUP to save a backup in case something goes wrong.

    4. On your second computer click on HELP – SHOW DOCUMENT FOLDER to open a file explorer, close Moneydance and delete your data sets “yourdatasetname.moneydance”.

    5. Using your primary computer in the Dropbox folder delete the folder “.moneydancesync”. Watch the Dropbox icon and wait till it states “Up to Date”. This can talk some time.

    6. In your second computer check that in the Dropbox folder that the folder “.moneydancesync” has been automatically deleted. You need to give Dropbox a short time to complete this deletion.

    7. On your primary computer under FILE - SYNCING, set your “Encryption Passphrase”, set “Sync Method” to “Dropbox Folder”, click OK.

    8. Wait for Dropbox folder “.moneydancesync” and its contents to be created. Check the Dropbox icon states “Up to Date”. This can take some time.

    9. Wait until the same Dropbox folder appears on your second computer, again watch the Dropbox icon this time on your second computer and wait till it states “Up to Date”.

    10. On your second computer starting Moneydance should open it in the welcome window, click on “Create a new account set”.

    11. Select “Open Synced File” and use dropdown to select “Dropbox Folder” then click NEXT.

    12. You should see a search screen headed “Select a synced document to open”

    13. After a short search delay, it should then list your un-synced data set name used on your primary computer.

    14. Highlight your data set name and click NEXT.

    15. Enter the encryption password, the “Encryption Passphrase” you set on your primary computer under FILE – SYNCING.

    16. Then click on FINISH. Wait for your data to be synced.

    You may find a lot of old, maybe closed accounts or other accounts you have removed from the side bar reappearing in the second computers side bar. Use the “+” sign at bottom of side bar then ADVANCED to tidy up the side bar.
    If in any step you don’t get things how I describe, detail what you are seeing, including screen shots.

    Hope this helps.

  3. 3 Posted by tonyt on 08 Mar, 2018 10:02 AM

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    Thanks for such a detailed reply, seems over complicated for a casual user? Anyway, what happens if I want to add a third PC at a later date to the sync chain? Can i just enable sync and let it domits thing, or is it more complicated than that?
    Many thanks again, Cheers...

  4. 4 Posted by derekkent23 on 08 Mar, 2018 10:24 AM

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    I am not support staff, just a user.

    When you actual use syncing most of what's happening is transparent to you.
    I thought from your post you wonted an explanation of what was going on behind the scenes.

    Yes you can set up a third computer, in the same way as a second computer. Just two things:
    Its been reported that the name your see in step 13 in my post may not be the name of your data set you are trying to sync with. Instead it the alphanumeric name in the .moneydancesync folder in Dropbox. This is a bug. However syncing to it seems to work.
    I would recommend not having more than two devices (computers or phones) running Moneydance at one time. My set up is two computers and one phone. I found if I have all three devices running Moneydance at the same time I could occasionally get syncing errors, be warned. I reported this the Sean the lead software developer but as far as I know, no fix yet.
    You can set up as many devices as you like for syncing, but only run Moneydance on two devices at a time. For, example if you have Moneydance running on one computer and a phone shut down Moneydance on one of these before opening Moneydance on another device.

    Hope this helps

  5. 5 Posted by tonyt on 08 Mar, 2018 11:44 AM

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    Not at all, I was very interested. I am reasonably OK with most computer stuff, I meant this sort of syncing could cause problems to someone who was not over confident with deleting files, and setting things up.

  6. 6 Posted by dwg on 08 Mar, 2018 08:45 PM

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    The instructions that Derek have provided are very much geared to the user that has had syncing set up then something has gone wrong and they need to get back to having a somewhat clean setup so that they can restart the process of setting up syncing.

    In such a situation there needs to be the expectation that you are going to get your hands dirty and will need to do things like deleting files. Fortunately the files in the moneydance sync directory should only be copies and therefore fairly safe to delete but in any case precautions have already been taken if any problems arise by you taking a backup.

    Setting up syncing from scratch is not complicated, really it is a matter of following the bouncing ball, but like many things in computing if something goes wrong you can find yourself in the deep end quite quickly.

    I am a firm believer that if you use a computer you need to learn your way around the machine, that means where things are located, how to move, delete, rename items, install & updating software, print drivers etc, backing up date, in other words computing 101. You are the system manager of the machine you are sitting in front of and you need to manage the resource.

  7. 7 Posted by skalter on 26 Apr, 2018 07:39 PM

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    To a reasonable degree, I agree with the notion that we need to administrate our machines ourselves. However, with this comes the need for software to provide a reasonable degree of transparency. I find the MoneyDance sync'ing to be pretty opaque.

    I'm reading this article because I was sync'ing (using dropbox somehow) between a Mac and a linux box. The linux box died, I got a new one, and now I'm trying to get MoneyDance working with my data on the new linux box.

    I didn't know about this primary/secondary distinction in the past and have no idea which is the primary. The distinction of connect versus file was and, frankly still is, somewhat vague although derekkent23's description gives me the beginning of a working mental model as to what is going on.

    Now I'm in the situation where the linux box does see the data but it is an "old" version missing about 3 or 4 months worth of transactions. I went to the Mac and confirmed it is still showing the latest transactions.

    There isn't enough transparency, that I'm aware of, to move forward with this. I will probably make backups (beyond the ones that are automatically done), attempt to use derekkkent23's detailed instructions to just try to clean up the sync and start over.

    In summary, it just doesn't seem too hard for things to go wrong, and diagnosing the current state and resolution does not seem to be built into MoneyDance itself. Which is the primary? Which sync'ing method is being used? What is the current state of the sync'ing? I'm not even sure what it is I would need to be able to see in order to diagnose the time difference of the data I'm seeing -- transaction log ids or timestamps? Something about what MoneyDance sees on DropBox and what state it appears to be in.

    I'm hoping this will be taken as constructive criticism. It really isn't intended as a complaint.

  8. 8 Posted by derekkent23 on 26 Apr, 2018 08:03 PM

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    I am not support staff, just a user.

    You can easily check which is the primary computer. Look under FILE – SYNCING. If the syncing method cannot be changed it’s the secondary computer. Both the Primary and Secondary computer show the syncing method and Encryption Passphrase.

    If its your primary computer that has failed there are two ways two recover your data if you don’t have a primary data set backup. The best method is to run a Python script that turns a secondary data set into a primary data set so you can now set the syncing method. The other method is to follow a procedure to recover your data from the “.moneydancsync” folder in Dropbox.

    If you need either of these procedures just post.

    Hope this helps

  9. 9 Posted by skalter on 30 Apr, 2018 02:29 PM

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    Hi Derek,

    I finally got to checking and the Mac is my secondary using Dropbox connect. I've made some changes to the data on my Mac after the linux box died.

    I have access to the original disk of the old linux box and am wondering if I can configure the new linux box as the primary again using the old files and re-sync in order to backup from the primary.

    I did a backup on the Mac but I'm not sure of the consequences of trying to use a backup made on the secondary.

    Ideally, I'd like to end up with the Mac being the primary and using "Dropbox Folder" rather than "Dropbox Connect" based on your recommendation much earlier in this thread.

    Thanks for all your assistance, particularly as "you are not support staff, just a user". Hey, infinitekind, I see Derek's posts all over these boards, perhaps it's time to make his contributions official?

  10. 10 Posted by derekkent23 on 30 Apr, 2018 04:57 PM

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    I am not support staff, just a user.

    If your most up to date data set is from a secondary computer then you can follow the procedure below to turn it into a primary data set. You can then move this data set you to your new computer and start the syncing process from scratch.

    Make sure all computers have the latest build from

    I would first rename your Dropbox folder “.moneydancesync” and move it to the hard drive of one of your computers. It can be deleted once things are working again.

    Support have provided a file called "" that should convert your secondary data set, see attached. Before proceeding, please back up your Moneydance data set, just in case something goes wrong. You can create a manual backup using the FILE -EXPORT BACKUP.
    To use the .py file, first save it to your computer, somewhere you can easily access it like your downloads folder or your desktop. Then follow these steps:

    1. In Moneydance, select Window --> Python Scripting.
    2. In the window that opens, select 'Open Script' then navigate to the .py file wherever you saved it on your system.
    3. Select 'Run' to execute the file.
    4. Wait a few moments until you see a message on screen, confirming the script has run successfully.
    5. Close and reopen Moneydance.

    Click FILE - SYNCING, and you should now be able to select the required sync method.

    Your new data set is located under HELP – SHOW DOCUMENT FOLDER a file finder should open. Close Moneydance and move the data set to your new computer. Your data set has the naming convention yourdatasetname.moneydance and it not a file but a folder containing other files and folders. Don’t get it mixed up with any other data sets at the same location. Your can rename the new data set folder before you move it. Then start syncing with your new computer as the primary computer in the normal way.

    Hope this helps

  11. 11 Posted by derekkent23 on 30 Apr, 2018 04:58 PM

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    I am not support staff, just a user.

    Conversion file attached.

  12. 12 Posted by skalter on 01 May, 2018 01:40 PM

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    Derek, as far as I can tell, your instructions worked well. The correct machine is now the master and I'm using dropbox folder rather than dropbox connect.

    Thanks for your assistance.

  13. 13 Posted by derekkent23 on 01 May, 2018 03:53 PM

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    Hi skalter

    Glad it worked for you.

  14. System closed this discussion on 31 Jul, 2018 04:00 PM.

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