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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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Firefox 1.5 Released

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Firefox 1.5 Released -- The Mozilla Corporation has released Firefox 1.5, the latest version of the popular open source Web browser for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Important new features include an automated update capability, improved navigation performance, drag-and-drop reordering of tabs, improved pop-up blocking, a one-step method of clearing private data, more-descriptive error pages, automatic RSS discovery, better accessibility, a wizard for reporting broken Web sites, enhanced support for Mac OS X (including profile migration from Safari and Internet Explorer), and numerous security enhancements. Firefox 1.5 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later and is a 9.4 MB download.

<http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/>

Ironically after my article about simplifying installation in TidBITS-807, the Firefox disk image provides only graphical instruction that's actively confusing. An arrow leads from the Firefox icon itself to a smaller, greyed-out version of the Firefox icon that is presumably being dragged, to judge from the non-Mac-like pointer and + badge, and then to a greyed-out icon that looks like the Applications folder. Unfortunately, it's all representational - the Applications folder is just a picture, and not a symbolic link, and there are no textual instructions to clarify what to do. I've already heard of people not realizing they had to copy the Firefox package and instead running it from the disk image. Worse, the instructions on the Firefox Web site say "double click the Firefox Disk Image to open it in Finder, and then drag the Firefox application onto your hard disk. Drag the icon to your Dock if you want it to appear there." I'm sure there are people who will promptly drag the Firefox icon from the disk image to the Dock, instead of copying it to the Applications folder and then dragging the copied version's icon to the Dock. Obviously, there's nothing all that hard here, but that's no reason not to make it easier yet.

<http://db.tidbits.com/article/08346>

In comparison, applications that deserve kudos for using this installation technique include Jim Matthews's Fetch (of course!), James Thomson's PCalc, and Frank Reiff's A Better Finder Rename, with extra points to Rainer Brockerhoff for using the technique for his XRay utility since 2003. Some disk images don't force icon view if the user has Open New Windows in Column View set in the Finder preferences, which eliminates any graphical or textual help that would otherwise appear. I'm not yet sure how to force icon view in all situations. [ACE]

<http://www.fetchsoftworks.com/>
<http://www.pcalc.com/>
<http://www.publicspace.net/ABetterFinderRename/>
<http://www.brockerhoff.net/xray/>

 

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