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Beta Beat: Grape, a new way to manage your Desktop clutter


Grape, just released as a beta, is a new take on desktop file management. I've seen several attempts at innovative user interfaces for file management in my day, some better than others, but this is the first one I've been really excited about. In the words of the author -- Stéphane at -- "Grape is a visual and spatial way to classify and organize temporary files." I use my desktop as a sort of Inbox, saving all of my working files, PDFs of web pages and other random bits there during the day, and then tagging and bagging the collected mess once or twice a day. It's not a bad system, but I love anything that might make my life simpler and/or more interesting.

Grape takes all of the files on your desktop and puts them into a kind of three-dimensional workspace where you can pan and zoom, group files and perform various functions, including filing them to folders anywhere on your hard drive. You can zoom in and out with your scroll wheel or by holding command-space and dragging a rectangle. You can pan around the space by holding space and dragging. Once you've started organizing, you're able to create boxes and text labels to highlight groups of interest or provide highlighted areas for sorting. You can also Quick Look files, as well as choose the preview image for movies and multi-page PDF files. You can't descend into folders, but if you have a Quick Look plugin for folders, it's really easy to identify previously grouped files without jumping back to the Finder.

At this point, Grape is interesting (and fun), but lacks some much-needed functionality. Among the list of things I'd like to see: more mouse-only navigation, droppable folders, the ability to create functional drop-boxes to send files to specific folders, OpenMeta tagging (or AppleScript access to selected files for apps like Tags) and a more customizable interface (I find the default blue gradient a little overwhelming). It's a great start, though, and has really piqued my interest in more "spatial" file-management interfaces. Check out a video of Grape in action after the jump, and grab the beta here.

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