About Blackboard Drive for Mac

Blackboard Drive (1.7.17115) allows OS X applications to operate directly on documents stored in Blackboard Learn Content System servers. Blackboard Drive differs significantly from the native Mac OS X ability to connect to WebDAV servers in the following ways:

  1. Blackboard Drive for Mac OS X helps to prevent such issues using "Application Filters", which compensate for the unwanted default behaviors of specific Mac OS X applications. A list of these applications is provided in Application Filters.
  2. Typical OS X applications are not designed to work properly with document management systems such as Blackboard Learn Content System. This means that when using the native Mac OS X WebDAV functionality, you will likely encounter a variety of problems such as:
    • Unintended proliferation of unwanted files on the server (e.g. .DS_Store files)
    • Loss of file properties, tags, prior versions, workflow data, and other critical data when files are updated by Mac OS X applications.
  3. Blackboard Drive caches files locally and synchronizes changes in the background. This means that when saving a large document in an OS X application, you do not have to wait for the entire document to be uploaded to the server before continuing with your work. Caching also greatly improves performance when applications repeatedly access the same file to read data.
  4. Blackboard Drive provides a Status Monitor that allows you to monitor the progress of file transfers and other operations between your Mac and the Blackboard Learn server.

Release Highlights

Directory Listing Performance Improvement

  • To respond to performance issues reported in this area, we have e-factored the directory listing updates in version 1.7.
  • The directory listing updates are controlled by the Sharing Level setting of given volume. It can be adjusted under volume configuration in the Advanced Options section. Each Sharing Level groups several configuration parameter values into a simple one-click selection. Just two configuration values affect the behavior of directory listing updates: cachedListings and refreshTimeout.
  • We believe that cachedListings should be set to true to provide a good user experience.

Notifications for Files in Use

We have added the possibility to notify users trying to open a locked file with the name of the lock owner. The foreign lock notification windows can be turned on/off in the mass configuration using the new LockPolicy option which values are:

  • ALLOW - open the file normally, the file is just read only
  • WARNING - open the file normally, but display notification window that the file is locked.
  • DENY - the file cannot be opened and a notification window is displayed

The default value for this option is WARNING.

Send Logs

To improve the communication with our Support team and to simplify the collection and transfer of the necessary logs when reporting an issue with Blackboard Drive, a 'Send Logs' button has been added to the Preference tab of Blackboard Drive UI. By clicking this button, all the logs needed for troubleshooting an issue will be collected, zipped and uploaded directly on the Blackboard Support Web File Server.

Versioning for Multiple Files

Users are now able to enable/disable versioning on multiple files with a single click. When enabling/disabling versioning takes longer than the defined time (1s), a progress dialog displays. The progress dialog also allows users to cancel the operation. Other version-related commands can be applied only to a single file.


  • Password Protected Passes: A new mass configuration parameter PasswordProtected allows to enforce the passes created from the Drive to be password protected.
  • Hide/Show context menu items: New mass configuration parameters allows to hide or show the Drive items in the Explorer context menu.
  • Starting Drive in the background: Blackboard Drive now opens in the background when starting Windows.

Resolved Issues

  • When uploading a large file on WebDAV server using Drive, the Drive Options in Finder for the new file are no longer displayed until the upload is completed.
  • Drive will start normally when Java 1.6, 1.7 or 1.8 is installed. If not, user will be prompted to install the proper version for the running MacOS.
  • When a user tries to submit the volume dialog (+new / configure) with volume name containing "file" or "home", a warning message will appear to prevent the error when saving in Word a document stored on a Volume using those strings in its name.
  • In iWorks 2013 update (Keynote 6.x, Pages 5.x & Numbers 3.x), documents are stored as bundled (not as a single file) and will now be locked properly when edited.
  • When the 'confirmDisconnect' mass configuration parameter is set to 'true', the checkbox "Do not show this message again" is hidden.
  • In the Status Monitor, "Failed Activities" can now be filtered and the "Clear Completed" button only clears the successfully completed operations.
  • Temporary volumes are no longer deleted after the application restarts but after volume disconnection instead.
  • A new mass configuration parameter 'DisableContextMenu'under the 'ContextMenu' node allows you to disable the 'Xythos Drive Option' menu within services in the context menu. The default value for this parameter is 'false'.
  • Xythos Drive is now accessible via keyboard by shortcuts:
    • (fn)+ctrl+alt+F11 opens Xythos Drive
    • (fn)+ctrl+alt+F12 opens Status Monitor

Supported Platforms

Blackboard Drive for Mac (1.7.17115) supports the following Mac OS X versions;
  • Mac OS X® v 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) 32-bit and 64-bit
  • Mac OS X® v 10.7 (Lion) 32-bit and 64-bit
  • Mac OS X® v 10.8 (Mountain Lion) 64-bit
  • Mac OS X® v 10.9 (Mavericks) 64-bit
  • Mac OS X® v 10.10 (Yosemite) 64-bit

Java Requirement

Blackboard Drive 1.7 for Mac requires the JDK (Java development Kit) version of Java and not only the JRE (Java Runtime Environment) as in previous releases.

Supported Java versions

  • JDK 1.6 : the 32-bit version is required for 32-bit Mac OSX as Drive 1.7 still supports Mac OSX 10.6.8 but not recommended for 64-bit Mac OSX since Java 1.6 doesn't support TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2 security protocols. Note that this version is installed by default on Mac environments while all newer and preferred Java versions need to be downloaded from Oracle website and manually installed.
  • JDK 1.7
  • JDK 1.8

Application Filters

Application Filters compensate for potentially destructive behaviors of typical OS X programs which are not designed for use with WebDAV. For example, when updating a file, many programs may inadvertently cause the loss of file properties, tags, versions, workflow data, and other critical data associated with the original file on the WebDAV server. This release provides filters for the following applications:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Apple iWork Pages
  • Apple iWork Numbers
  • Apple iWork Keynote
  • Finder

Additionally, Blackboard Drive has a "generic" filter which attempts to correct for common destructive behaviors of other applications. As a result, there may be a noticeable delay before some changes are propagated to the server. Although this filter has been tested with common applications, it is impossible for Blackboard to test compatibility with all applications. Please report any unusual application behaviors to Blackboard Support as soon as possible.

Important Notes

  1. Java JDK is now required to run Drive 1.7 Mac. Java JRE is not sufficient since its installation process doesn't update OS X symbolic links to java binaries.
  2. Installation of Blackboard Drive requires administrative rights and will require the user to log out of their account at the end of the installation.
  3. Upon installation, Blackboard Drive will be set to open at login for existing OS X users. New OS X users created after the installation will not have this option set automatically. Any user can change this setting for their account by right-clicking on the Blackboard Drive icon in the Dock, and choosing Options->Open at Login.
  4. If a proxy requires authentication, the user will be prompted for a username and password when first attempting to connect to the proxy. Valid credentials will then be stored in Keychain and used for future connections to the proxy. Stored credentials can be managed via the OS X Keychain Access application.
  5. In the event of an unexpected system outage, files that were in the process of being uploaded to the server at the time of the outage will be copied to a "DriveRecovery" folder in the user's OS X home folder when Blackboard Drive is restarted.
  6. Upgrades from the evaluation version of Blackboard Drive to the standard version are not supported in this release. Please uninstall the evaluation version of Blackboard Drive before attempting to install the standard version.
  7. While browsing folders, Finder may attempt to read information from files in those folders, triggering the download of those files. To minimize the number of files automatically downloaded by Finder, we recommend that the following options are unchecked in Finder's "View Options" window:
    • Calculate all sizes
    • Show icon preview
    • Show Columns: Version
  8. The .DS_STORE files remain in the cache but are not uploaded to the server. So changes are maintained locally until the cache is cleared.

Known Limitations

  1. When saving a document in iWork08 format to a document with the same name in iWork09 format, the file save operation on the Blackboard Drive may fail. When converting the documents between these formats, the iWork application will remove the original folder and replace it with a single file with the same name, so be aware that the original document (folder) will be removed during this process and any classification data or other metadata associated with it will be lost. Make sure to save the file when iWork application prompts to do so.
  2. The uninstallation utility is only able to remove startup items, programs settings, and cache data for the user who runs the utility. Other users can manually remove these items.
  3. In some cases, Finder may return its focus to the server root after deleting a file or folder. This behavior is independent of whether Drive is running.
  4. When moving a file or folder via the command line, or when renaming or moving a file in Finder, it may take several seconds for the operation to be propagated to the server. Further operations that alter the state of that file or folder before the completion of the original operation may cause synchronization problems, possibly resulting in data loss. When using the command line to move a file or folder, or when using Finder to move or rename a file, please check the Status Monitor to ensure that the operation has been completed before performing additional operations that alter the state of that file or folder.
  5. Renaming a folder while files in that folder are being uploaded to the server may cause inconsistent errors depending on the versions of Mac OS X and Blackboard Learn server. The Blackboard Drive status monitor can be used to check to see if any uploads are in progress.
  6. Whenever Microsoft PowerPoint opens a ".ppt" file, it immediately attempts to write information to that file. Because of this Microsoft PowerPoint behavior, you may observe an upload of the file to the server when you open a ".ppt" file.
  7. When you save changes to a Microsoft Word file and close that file, you may not be able to reopen that file until the upload of the file to the server is complete.
  8. The mechanism to block the downloads triggered by Finder to download file metadata (e.g. icons and mp3 info) is not implemented on Mac. The icon previews cannot be turned off using a setting in Blackboard Drive configuration on Mac (as opposed to Windows). The workaround is to go to View->Show View Options in Finder and uncheck the "Show icon preview".
  9. On Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and later versions, the Java runtime is not installed by default. In order to use Blackboard Drive you either need to install Java runtime manually or to run Blackboard Drive and follow the prompt asking for Java runtime installation. Visit http://support.apple.com/ to install Java runtime manually.
  10. The use of .xlsx file stored on a Blackboard Drive volume is not supported when using the mail merge function in Microsoft Word.
  11. When editing a document using TextEdit on Mac OS X 10.7, TextEdit may complain that a document cannot be saved in some scenario. In such case, you need to use "Save Anyway" several times to save the document.
  12. A problem can be encountered when extracting some kind of zip files that contain files with relative paths, but the folders are not explicitly listed, e.g. a zip file that contains just "folder/file.txt" rather than both "folder" and "folder/file.txt". This is not a common problem since zip files created using Finder, Total Commander, and 7zip work fine. The workaround is to extract the zip file on a local volume.
  13. Opening a .docx file in Word 2008 from a mounted volume with Light Sharing level could lead to freezing Word application if the file has been changed from another computer and gets downloaded. The workaround is to use Heavy sharing level or Word 2011.
  14. Blackboard Drive for Mac does not allow authentication using client certificate when there are multiple private keys in the login Keychain. This is caused by a bug in Mac Java runtime.
  15. Do not use Drive to create password-protected passes on Learn servers. The Learn server does not support opening password-protected passes; even though the operation to create a password-protected pass is possible using Drive, there is currently no way to open such pass.
  16. When using SaveAs in PowerPoint to save to an existing file with .pptx extension, the operation fails and an error message is displayed. The workaround is to save the document under a different filename and replace the document using a file manager or through upload in WebUI.
  17. In Keynote'08, when trying to save to the same file as the one you are currently editing, the save operation succeeds but the file is deleted and created again on the server, resulting in the loss of versions and metadata. Instead, the file should be saved using the Save (or SaveAs) operation to a different filename.
  18. When exporting a document in MS Excel using SaveAs to a format other than .xls or .xlsx, the output files may not get automatically unlocked until you disconnect the volume. A similar problem may occur in Powerpoint and ppt and .pptx.
  19. To avoid a serious bug in Office 2011 applications that prevents users from saving files on a share or disk which name contains the strings "home" or "file", it is no longer possible to create volumes with names containing those strings. The latest Office 2011 patch (SP3-14.3.0) does not include a fix for this issue.
  20. Versioning is not possible with new iWork documents as Pages (5.0 and higher), Numbers (3.0 and higher) and Keynote (6.0 and higher) documents behave as folders, not as single files.
  21. When saving some Microsoft Word documents with .doc extension for example as files with a different extension like .htm, the original document remains open and stays locked until the new document is closed. This behavior doesn't apply to .docx documents for example.