10 Commandments When Using the Drag & Drop Feature in Mac OS X
The first commandment has to do with the selection of files to drag, and this is an important point. The advice is to select the file or group of files that you want to use for a drag operation. If you’re moving a bunch of photos from your hard drive onto your desktop, pick the photos from the Photos album on your hard drive. To move more than one item at a time, hold down the Cmd key and then drag them around as one group. If you’re in a hurry, this allows you to do a lot of things quickly: it’s like working at hyperspeed.
The second commandment is about the cursor and the selection itself. When dragging items, a flicking cursor appears. The change in cursor and the appearance of movement around the edges of an item indicate that drag and drop is going on. The third commandment focuses on what happens if you start to drag an item, but then lose contact with it before you release the mouse button. The items you dropped will remain in the space where you dropped them, but they won’t be moved.
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The third commandment has to do with the target of your drag-and-drop operation. First, you can’t drag files from one application window to another if both windows are in the same program. Second, you can’t drag items from a window on top of a dock icon for that application. Thus, if you want to move a photo from iChat into iPhoto, you must first copy it to the desktop.
Let’s look at this a little more closely.
As you can see, the goal is to drag and drop a photo from iChat into iPhoto. (You can also drag photos between Pages in Apple’s Pages application or between Contacts in Address Book, but we won’t discuss these tasks here.) If you need more information about these applications, click on the appropriate web links within this article.
The problem is that the photo is in a window for the iChat application, and iPhoto had its own window, which has been hidden by clicking on its icon. If you try to drag and drop a file from one application’s window onto another application’s dock icon, you’ll get an error message from Mac OS X.
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The fourth commandment has to do with accidentally dragging the wrong thing. Should you drag something into an application that’s not a valid target, the Mac OS X will make a “no-go” symbol (an X over a red circle) appear in the destination window where it’s expected. There are strategies for getting dragged items “unstuck” from these no-go zones. In Adobe Photoshop, you can choose Edit > Undo or use the Cmd+Z keyboard shortcut. In a word processor, if you’re in the process of typing text, all you have to do is hit the Esc key and release it when the Mac OS X highlights all the text where your drag-and-drop operation was interrupted.
Now, here’s a little secret. If you’re using the Mac OS X Finder, and your cursor is in a dragged item? That item is temporarily locked in the Finder, but it will still work on your computer. You may be able to do some good with this mysterious tool.
If you want to move something out of your Finder to a different location, first you have to make it accessible by dragging it into the Mac OS X Applications folder. Next, find its corresponding file in the Applications folder and drag it onto the desired destination in the Finder. You can drag items into other files or folders inside the Applications folder using the Cmd key (the letter “C”). When you release your mouse button inside an Application folder, that file or folder will appear on a shelf on the left side of the window. There you’ll see a list of other items that can be dragged into this shelf. You can drag the item you wish to move onto the shelf with your mouse.