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Eye Trash: Replicating a commercial app in a few easy steps


Long-time Apple developer Circus Ponies recently announced a new application called iTrash ($4.95). The Mac app resolves the "issue" of the moving trash can, a "problem" that occurs when you have your Dock icons set to magnify as you run your mouse pointer over them. My first thought was "well, you can just turn off magnification for the Dock in System Preferences", followed by another thought -- "I bet I could replicate the functionality of the app fairly easily."

My goal? Replicate iTrash's functionality of creating a desktop-based, non-moving trash can that can be decorated with any number of other icons. I was able to do this in about five minutes, and if you don't mind using the Terminal, you can create your own iTrash clone for free. Note that if you want really cool animated trash icons and don't want to futz around with Terminal, you really ought to give iTrash a try. It has some other functions that aren't covered by my attempt here and it isn't that expensive.

Here we go!

We need to find the trash folder for your Mac. It's actually a hidden system folder called .Trash, located in your User folder. Using the Finder Go menu, select Go > Home. When your home folder appears on the screen, launch the Terminal app, which is found in the Utilities folder in Applications. At the Terminal prompt, type or copy and paste the following two commands:

Be sure to press Return after pasting the last command, and leave your Terminal window open as we'll use it again in a minute. Now in your Home folder, you'll see a folder called Trash. To indicate that it's usually a hidden folder, the icon is lighter blue and the name is in gray. Right-click on the Trash folder icon and select Make Alias from the context-sensitive menu:

Eye Trash Replicating a commercial app in a few easy steps

What that will do is create a folder alias with the name "Trash alias". Drag the Trash alias folder onto your Mac desktop.

At this point, you don't need to look at the hidden files and folders anymore, so let's hide them again. Now type or copy and paste the next two commands and execute them by pressing Return:

Now you have a boring folder on your desktop called "Trash alias." If you're not picky about how it looks, you can just leave it on your desktop and dragging any file or folder into it will be just like dragging it into the trash can in the Dock. But we want to make this look better, so let's change the icon and name.

A quick search of "Mac icons" should find some nice collections. My favorite Iconfactory artist David Lanham has some icons available for download here. Once you've downloaded these icons, move them to a folder where you can see each of the individual icons.

Next, right-click on an icon you like, and select "Get Info". Just below the top of the info window you'll see a small representation of the icon you selected.

Eye Trash Replicating a commercial app in a few easy steps

Click on it to highlight it, and then use Command-C to copy the icon to your clipboard. Now go to your Trash alias folder, right-click it and select "Get Info". Click on the little icon just below the top of the Trash alias info window to select it, and then use Command-V to paste the icon. You can then rename the folder to what ever you'd like.

Eye Trash Replicating a commercial app in a few easy steps

The only issue with this method is that since the Trash folder is an alias, you'll always have a small arrow next to your icon to indicate that it's an alias. I leave the removal of that alias arrow as an exercise to our readers. Or, as I suggested before, you can just purchase the actual iTrash app and have much more fun!

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