DragThing’s hidden pleasures

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
May 6th, 2003 • 12:57 am

The mark of truly great software products is how their developers have anticipated each and every one of your needs. DragThing is one of these products.

Due to the somewhat unreliable nature of the Radio UserLand background web publishing processes, I have to keep an eye on the application’s “About” window, which happens to be the window where you can monitor Radio’s activities and make sure it’s actually posting the blog items you’ve instructed it to post.

I have this small window in a corner of my secondary monitor, so that I can keep an eye on it at all times, without HAVING to hide other windows that might clutter the screen.

The problem is that, whenever I do a “Hide Others” command — which happens fairly often because I often have so many different applications open at the same time — it also hides the Radio window. So I have to click on Radio’s Dock icon to make it visible again. A small step, but HAVING to repeat it several times daily can become annoying.

Now, I should note that I do not use Mac OS X’s own “Hide Others” command in the application menu. The reason for this is that I want DragThing’s docks to remain visible at all time, and Mac OS X’s “Hide Others” hides them if DragThing is not the application in the foreground.

Instead, I use DragThing’s own “Hide Others” command, which works just as well, but does not hide DragThing’s docks. Until recently, DragThing’s “Hide Others” command had the added benefit that you could assign a keyboard shortcut to it. Apple only added the cmd-opt-H keyboard shortcut to “Hide Others” in one of the most recent system updates.

To make a long story short, until today, whenever I needed to “hide others”, I would just hit cmd-ù (which is the keyboard shortcut I’ve defined for DragThing’s command on my French-Canadian keyboard), and it would work great. Except that it would hide Radio’s window.

Then today I suddenly remembered that DragThing offered the option to exclude certain applications. I went to its Preferences dialog box, and, sure enough, one section of the dialog box was a list of excluded applications that are “never hidden”. It only contained DragThing itself (obviously), but adding Radio to it was a matter of seconds.

And now, whenever I hit cmd-ù, DragThing hides all other windows except the windows of the application in the fore, with the exception of its own docks and… the Radio window that lets me monitor the program’s background processes. And I don’t even have to change my keyboard habit!

Now, this is something that Mac OS X itself would never let me do. It doesn’t include such a level of customizability. DragThing does. And for this today I feel extremely grateful.

Three cheers for DragThing!

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