OS X Hints: Titlebar Icons

The following was written, by me, on a private Mac support forum, and assumes the user is using a recent version Mac OS X (probably 10.3 and after, as the sidebar appeared in 10.3) and has a basic understanding of the OS and what the modifier keys are (control, option, command).

Oh the hidden power of the little folder icon in titlebar of the finder…

Try this: Open a folder somewhere, preferably deep in the directories (like, perhaps, your home folder). You see the lil icon next to the title in the window’s title bar? Hold down the command key and click it. Bam, now you can jump to any of the parent folders of the current folder (very useful when you need to jump up a directory or two).

Or, try this: Create a new folder (you can do with on pretty much any folder, but just so you don’t inadvertently move anything you don’t want moved). Maybe add a few files to it… whatever. Now, imagine you wanted to put this folder in your Documents folder… what do you do? Most Mac users I know would double click their Macintosh HD (open up a new finder window… surprisingly a lot of people don’t know about cmd-n in the finder), browse to the Documents folder (or perhaps smartly use the sidebar link), then they’d go up a level (perhaps using the above trick, or maybe some other means) and drag the folder over. BLAH!! Too many steps… do this instead. Don’t open anything else… just stay with your new folder open. Go to your new friend, the magic lil icon next to the title. Get your cursor right on top of it, and click-drag… drag the icon over to the Documents folder in the sidebar. It should highlight and you can drop it there. And you’re done. That entire folder is now in the Documents Folder. It may not seem like it, but try the previous trick (cmd-click the icon) and you’ll see you just moved it. Want to just copy it? Try holding down option while you click drag (just like any other time you click and drag any other icon in the finder… option changes it from move to copy).

Now that you’ve mastered utilising this little icon, let’s do something really useful: upload the song you just created in GarageBand to something like YouSendIt. So, you made a song, mixed it down and it sent it over to iTunes… now what? Well, as you may know, you can right click on any (local) song in iTunes, and choose show song. Then, you could possibly copy the file to your desktop so you can find it when you are going to upload it… because who wants to try and find that song again in the maze that is the iTunes directory structure? WAIT… there must be an easier way. And, of course, there is:

  • Okay, you’ve got the finder window open to the song you just made, but YouSendIt has a “Browse” button, and you’re going to have to find this again. Ack.
  • Well, no, you don’t. Remember your new friend, the icon. Take the folder icon in the titlebar of the folder containing the song that you just found.
  • Drag the icon to the side bar, but don’t put it on top of any of the folders (that would move the folder, and we don’t want that). Aim for a spot between the folders. Notice the line… that means insert.
  • Release. Now you have a link in the sidebar to the folder containing your song. Why is this handy? Because the sidebar is universal, and that Browse window that you opened to upload on YouSendIt (or any other HTML form upload) has… ding ding ding… the same sidebar.
  • Look at the Browse window… now you have a quick link in the sidebar for the folder, so hit that, and bam, there is your folder with your new song. Easy peasy.
  • Once you’re uploading (or whatever) don’t forget to go to your open finder window and drag the new link you just made out of the sidebar, as you probably won’t need it anymore.

Most of the titlebar icon stuff takes some getting used to… it takes a bit to master actually selecting and dragging the icon and properly dropping it in the correct spot. But once you get it… it sure speeds things up