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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).

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Microsoft AutoGadget Formats the Finder

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Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, clearly looking for a new direction after last year's release of Office v.X, today announced AutoGadget, a Mac OS X-only utility that brings a bevy of Microsoft's automatic editing and formatting tools to the Finder. In their press release, Microsoft said, "Experts in our usability labs have found that Office users actually have a measurable increase in certain stress hormones when Office's automatic tools aren't available." AutoGadget comes on the heels of a recent directive from Bill Gates that Microsoft should explore ways to make the computing environment less stressful. Intriguing features of AutoGadget include:

  • Underlining of misspelled text in Finder windows - no more embarrassing typos in file names.

  • AutoFiltering options for quickly changing which files are visible in a Finder folder. For instance, you might want to see only files older than five days, or only files that contain certain text strings. (The latter only operates if Sherlock's content indexing enabled for the vollume.)

  • Filename AutoCorrect that corrects common typos as you type and automatically ensures that filenames don't contain characters illegal in other operating systems.

  • 17 different AutoFormat designs that let you set individual Finder windows to different themes - our favorites include ledger, cyberpunk, beach, universe, and - for very occasional use - spinning pom-poms.

  • The capability to convert any Finder folder into a floating list, along the lines of Excel's List Manager. In essence, the folder becomes a mini-database where you can easily add new, blank files or folders, which could be a good way to map out a Web site or set up a folder for a new project. Once the folder is a list, you can add a bottom row and a left-most column whose contents are calculated using Excel's arithmetic or time functions, potentially helpful in time and project tracking.

Microsoft isn't known as a player in the Macintosh utility field, and it's uncertain how the overall Mac community will receive AutoGadget, especially given the level to which Office's automatic tools have engendered love/hate reactions. Still, each AutoGadget feature can be turned on or off independently of the others, so if you generally like Office's helping hand, give AutoGadget a try.

AutoGadget 1.0 will ship with the next service release of Office v.X (which is required for AutoGadget to work), and - in an effort to acquaint all Office v.X users with Microsoft's new emphasis on relaxation - is also available now as a free download from Microsoft's Mactopia Web site.

<http://www.microsoft.com/mac/>

 

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