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Yoink Takes Mac Drag and Drop to the Next Level

Eternal Storms Software’s Yoink is a powerful enhancement to the standard drag-and-drop experience on the Mac that you don’t realize you need until you’ve spent an hour or two using it. Then you wish you had been using it for a lot longer than that.

In short, Yoink acts as a temporary holding spot for items you drag and drop from the Finder or any other app, letting you store them for use later in other applications.

Think of Yoink like a virtual shelf for your Mac. Drag files or other items to it and they sit there, right at hand, until you’re ready to drag them off the shelf and into another app or folder.

The first time you open Yoink, it walks you through a brief tutorial explaining how the app works and what kinds of files it accepts. Close the tutorial window and the only thing letting you know that Yoink is running is its icon in your menu bar. You can use the menu bar menu to change settings, but you don’t need it to use the Yoink app. Instead, Yoink activates as soon as you start dragging anything on your Mac, displaying a small drawer into which you can drop whatever it is you’re dragging.

Yoink can handle most anything you drag to it. I added text from a word processing document, images dragged from Web pages, pictures from Photos, entire Web pages, and files from the Finder. I didn’t find anything Yoink couldn’t collect.

By default, Yoink displays only the last three items you’ve dropped on it. Using either the menu bar or a pop-up menu that appears when you click the gear button in the app, you can customize Yoink so its window expands until it reaches the top and bottom of your screen with each added item. Regardless of window size, you can continue adding items, you’ll just have to scroll up or down in the drawer to find the one you want to use.

Unfortunately, Yoink lacks some way of letting you know that there are more files in the window than you can see. This is in part because macOS doesn’t display scroll bars by default, but Yoink would benefit from something that lets you know there’s more in the drawer than meets the eye.

Yoink’s drawer remains visible as long as there’s something in it, and you can choose whether it appears on the left or right edge of your screen, aligned to the top, center, or bottom of that edge.

Yoink works with multiple screens, but exactly how depends on the “Displays have separate Spaces” checkbox in System Preferences > Mission Control. If that checkbox isn’t selected, Yoink’s drawer appears only on the primary screen, which can result in some tedious dragging across long distances. However, if you select that checkbox, Yoink can put its drawer in any of its six positions on any screen. The trick is to access the necessary Window Position menu from the menu bar icon located on the desired screen.

Regardless, those with large Desktops might prefer to use Yoink’s option to display its drawer right under the pointer’s position when you start a drag.

Also, Yoink sits on top of everything else on your Desktop, so if you find that it’s in your way, press F5 (you can change the key) to make it hide or reappear. If you’ve set Yoink to appear at the pointer position, another press or two of F5 brings up it at the pointer, making it easy to drag items to Yoink without looking for the drawer.

Using items you’ve added to Yoink is easy. All you need to do is drag them from Yoink’s drawer to the app, folder, or document where you want to use them. By default, when you drag something out of Yoink, it disappears from the Yoink drawer. But you can also lock items so they remain in Yoink after you’ve dragged them, which might be useful for frequently used bits of text or graphics.

Yoink can display either file icons or Quick Look previews in its drawer, and you can click an eye button to peek at the contents of any item in the drawer. You can also share any item in Yoink to available apps.

It’s important to note that files dragged from Yoink to anything, whether it’s an app or a Finder folder, behave the same way they would if you were dragging normally without Yoink as an intermediary. So, drag a document from Yoink to Apple Mail and Mail attaches a copy of the original to the current message. Drag a file in Yoink’s drawer to a folder in the Finder and that item will be moved from its original Finder location to the location where you dragged it. Drag that same item to a server or external drive and it will be copied to that new location.

A click of the broom button in Yoink’s drawer empties any items in it, but if you accidentally sweep Yoink clean, the Yoink menu includes an option to “Bring back last removed files,” which will restore your dragged items.

On the Yoink support site, Eternal Storms provides several tutorials and a variety of blog posts on how to make the most of Yoink. One of my favorites was about how to use Automator to create a macOS Service that automatically sends screenshots to Yoink. Another tip explains how you can add files to Yoink with a keyboard shortcut.

If you frequently find yourself dragging things around your Mac, and particularly if you find that task onerous or prone to error, Yoink can enhance your day-to-day Mac experience. I recommend that you give it a go today. Yoink costs $6.99 from the Mac App Store, and the company provides a separate demo because the Mac App Store doesn’t allow demos. It requires Mac OS X 10.7.3 Lion or later.


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Comments about Yoink Takes Mac Drag and Drop to the Next Level
(Comments are closed.)

Dan Neesley  2017-09-05 17:42
Or you can use Pathfinder which has had this "Shelf" feature for years and many, many more features.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-06 10:04
Pathfinder is great, but requires a much more significant change in user behavior.
Eric Ladner  2017-09-05 19:08
$6.99, not $5.99 when I got the the App Store, but if it works as well as described, it should still be worth it.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-06 10:04
Thanks — fixed! Could have sworn it was $5.99, but perhaps I missed that when checking.
Does the presence of this app indicate Apple needs to fix something with drag&drop, Exposé, spring-loaded windows, etc.?
Jeffery Battersby  2017-09-06 13:36
It's not evidence of something Apple needs to fix, you could do the same thing by creating a folder of your own to temporarily store items, but this handles it without requiring you to move files. So, I'd say, out of scope for Apple in the core OS and a nice addition if you're using Yoink.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-06 13:41
If I remember right, NeXTstep had a shelf concept too, so I imagine it's something that Apple felt wasn't necessary for the average user.
I think it does indicate exactly what you suggest. Without searching for third-party utilities, which many users are unlikely to do, it is still far too difficult for users to perform basic operations. Instead of sorting out those problems on the Mac, Apple created a whole new operating system.
Not that I'm against the new operating system, I hasten to add. But if anything it's raised the bar for usability, and Apple should be working even harder at helping people find their way around on the Mac.
David Morrison  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-09-08 16:30
The original 128K Mac had the Scrapbook which did much the same thing. I think it disappeared with OS X.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-08 16:50
Scrapbook wasn't quite the same thing — it was permanent storage of the stuff you dragged in, much like a snippet keeper today. Yoink is more about storing things temporarily so you can get to them a short time later, after moving windows or switching apps or the like.
How does this compare to Space Drop?
Jeffery Battersby  2017-09-11 23:47
They appear to be exact copies of each other. Not sure which came first, but in the few minutes I spent looking at Space Drop, it appears that Yoink works better. Space Drop didn't work well on a consistent basis.
Thanks for the feedback. I didn't know about Yoink until reading the article. The Automator trick you refer to sounds really useful.
Phil Seymour  2017-09-11 23:10
I have always used the desktop to place the items I will use in a project. I drag and drop most everything to anywhere it is needed. Why would I want this Yoink gizmo adding extra steps to my workflow?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-09-12 10:21
Doesn't sound like you would. :-) The Desktop isn't always visible, whereas Yoink floats above everything else. And Yoink can appear under the cursor to reduce long drags. But it's only about making things easier, and if you already have a system that works for you, there's no reason to switch.
Andre Dube  2017-09-12 04:34
I use an even better utility.
DROPZONE 3 by Aptonic.
In what ways is it better?
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2017-09-16 18:17
I've found the easiest way to drag things around my Mac is to copy and paste them. This works with almost anything, not just text. You can copy images and other files, large or small. If you have a clipboard utility, what you've copied will remain available for future use. Not that this is necessarily better than Yoink, which I haven't tried yet, but it is a built-in feature in the macOS—for those wanting more functionality in the Finder. Often those who want more just don't know all that's already there. This capability has been around in OS X for a long time; I don't know when it first became available. But it's one of the hidden features of the OS that makes things a lot easier for me. I can copy an item and paste it repeatedly, no drag and drop required. Though unlike with a drag and drop operation you have to make the destination location active, whether it's a Finder Window or an app. If you are careful to follow this step, though, there's no risk of dropping something prematurely in the wrong place. Unfortunately it sometimes takes more than one click in a window to make it active. I should get in the habit of clicking on the window toolbar instead. Also, if you copy something out of a mounted disk image, if you eject the image the item will no longer be available. Which suggests to me that the Finder merely uses a pointer to the copied item rather than holding it in RAM. In which case Yoink might be a better choice in some cases. However, I've not found it hard to build my workflow around these idiosyncracies in the Finder. Every app has them. One advantage I can think of for Yoink is that it won't be cluttered up with everything you have copied, unlike the list in a clipboard manager. Not that you can't clutter up the Yoink drawer, too, if you're not careful.

I should give Yoink a try. I remember an old drawer utility in OS 9 that I used to use that made use of window margins for a pop-out container. It was a convenient place to hide desktop clutter.