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The Little Things: Drag and drop

David Chartier

TUAW reader Chris Roberts was right: it's been far too long since our last post in The Little Things series, so I figured I'd pick up the slack with a really handy feature of Mac OS X: drag and drop. Sure, most OSes these days can drag and drop at least some things, but Apple has gone to great lengths to build this workflow-enhancing feature into so many facets of Mac OS X's experience, I don't really have time to cover them all (and there's no doubt that I don't even know about them all). Take my screenshot for example: I'm dragging an image of our puppy out of iPhoto on the left into iChat's icon well on the right. A simple gesture, sure, but a tiny example of how powerful this functionality can become. Try a few of these other drag and drop operations on for size:
  • Drag a file onto an app's icon in the Finder or Dock; its icon should darken, signifying that it can handle whatever you're throwing at it. Hold the Command key to force an app to open a file if it isn't initially cooperating.
  • Drag images from a browser (except Firefox and Camino) into a Mail message or iChat window to easily share them; no clunky 'right-click, Save, Open' workflows here.
  • Pause a QuickTime movie, click on the video and drag out to the desktop to create an instant snapshot of the frame you paused on (this might only work in QuickTime Pro - can anyone verify?).
  • Drag a file onto a Terminal window to instantly create a path.
  • Highlight text in most apps, then click and drag it to the desktop to create a text snippet, or into another window (Mail, iChat and Yojimbo are great examples) for a drag 'n drop take on copy/paste.
I'm sure there's a ton more where this came from, so try it on for size or stay tuned to the comments on this post where readers can share their own tricks and tips for dragging and dropping one's way to productive bliss.