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Open Files with Finder's App Switcher

Say you're in the Finder looking at a file and you want to open it with an application that's already running but which doesn't own that particular document. How? Switch to that app and choose File > Open? Too many steps. Choose Open With from the file's contextual menu? Takes too long, and the app might not be listed. Drag the file to the Dock and drop it onto the app's icon? The icon might be hard to find; worse, you might miss.

In Leopard there's a new solution: use the Command-Tab switcher. Yes, the Command-Tab switcher accepts drag-and-drop! The gesture required is a bit tricky. Start dragging the file in the Finder: move the file, but don't let up on the mouse button. With your other hand, press Command-Tab to summon the switcher, and don't let up on the Command key. Drag the file onto the application's icon in the switcher and let go of the mouse. (Now you can let go of the Command key too.) Extra tip: If you switch to the app beforehand, its icon in the Command-Tab switcher will be easy to find; it will be first (or second).

Visit Take Control of Customizing Leopard

 
 

Database and Mail Merge

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The database document type/tool, although not fully integrated into the other modules, is a real treat. It's another seeming retread - basically FileMaker Plus. But what a retread! FileMaker Plus was a terrific flat file database that went through several generations to become FileMaker Pro. It had easy field design and flexible layouts, allowed inclusion of graphics, and was easily modifiable at any point. ClarisWorks updates only a few menus and incorporates the common ClarisWorks features - text and spreadsheet frames - within the overall graphical-object ClarisWorks framework. You'd be hard-pressed to find a much better low-end database.

There's not much integration of the database to the other document types, however. Data copied from the database pastes directly into spreadsheet and word processing frames as tab delimited text, but fields and layouts can't be integrated with charting and graphics.

Claris did integrate the database into the word processing document type in the most important way, or at least in the way in which most people will use it: the mail merge. When a database document is opened, any word processing document or frame can be used as a "model" letter for a mail merge. Selecting Mail Merge from the File menu automatically brings up a dialog box with all possible databases listed. Double-clicking a database brings up all the fields in the database. Double-clicking a field name inserts the field marker at the insertion point. The whole database can then be merged with a click of the OK button. I have yet to see a less painful way of doing a mail merge.

 

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