Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard): More tips for drag-and-drop

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 17th, 2009 • 2:41 pm

Following my post about using command-Tab while dragging an object in Mac OS X, I have received more feedback about similar tips from Betalogue readers (thanks!) and have identified a couple more things myself.

First of all, it should be noted that you can not only use command-Tab while dragging an item to switch to a different application and bring this application’s windows to the foreground, but also drag the object to the application’s icon in the application switcher itself. If, while holding command-Tab down, you drag the object you are in the process of dragging to the icon of the target application, without releasing the mouse button, Mac OS X will switch you to that application directly and brings its windows to the foreground. You can then drop the object on the window of your choice.

This is useful if you have many application icons in the application switcher and would have to press Tab repeatedly many times in order to reach the target application. (You can of course use the mouse to click on an application icon in the application switcher even if you are not in the process of dragging an object.)

You can also use the same process for dragging objects to a miniature window in Exposé. Start dragging an object with the mouse. While still dragging, press the shortcut to bring up Exposé. Continue dragging the object to the miniature window of your choice. Wait a second. The window will be “spring-loaded” and if you hold still, after a second Mac OS X will switch you to that specific window, and you can now drop the object in the desired location in that target window.

In Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), there is also a hidden Dock preference that can turn application icons in the Dock into spring-loaded icons as well. (The folder icons on the right-hand side of the Dock are already spring-loaded by default.) This hidden preference can be switched on an off using a freeware tool such as TinkerTool (under “Dock,” the “Use spring-loaded tiles” option). When it’s turned on, you can use the Dock just like you would the application switcher, and it’s yet another way of bringing a target for a drag-and-drop destination to the foreground without having to interrupt the dragging process.

Finally, if you use command-Tab while dragging an object to switch to a different application, once you’ve switched, you can also, while still dragging the object, use the keyboard shortcut to cycle through all available windows in order to bring to the foreground the specific window you want as the target. (The shortcut for cycling through windows varies depending on your keyboard layout. For the US keyboard, it’s command-~. For my Canadian CSA keyboard, it’s command-ù—an excellent choice for a shortcut on that keyboard, I might add.)

The bottom-line here is that there are all kinds of things you can do while dragging an object in Mac OS X, because dragging with the mouse button down is no longer a modal process that blocks all other interactions with the system until the mouse button is released, like it used to be in the classic Mac OS. I am sure there are even more tips of this kind!

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