- 2.4. Moving and Copying Icons
In Mac OS X, there are two ways to move or copy icons from one place to another: by
dragging them, or by using the Copy and Paste commands.
2.4.1. Copying by Dragging
You can drag icons from one folder to another, from one drive to another, from a drive to
a folder on another drive, and so on. (When you've selected several icons, drag any one of
them; the others tag along.) While the Mac is copying, you can tell that the process is still
under way even if the progress bar is hidden behind a window, because the icon of the
copied material shows up dimmed in its new home, darkening only when the copying
process is over. (You can also tell because Leopard's progress box is a lot clearer and
prettier than it used to be.) You can cancel the process by pressing either -period or
the Esc key.
Tip: If you're copying files into a disk or folder that already contains items with the same
names, Mac OS X asks you individually about each one. ("An older item named
'Fiddlesticks' with extension '.doc' already exists in this location.") Note that, thank
heaven, Mac OS X tells you whether the version you're replacing is older or newer than
the one you're moving.Turn on "Apply to all" if all of the incoming icons should (or
should not) replace the old ones of the same names. Then click Replace or Don't Replace,
as you see fit, or Stop to halt the whole copying business.
Understanding when the Mac copies a dragged icon and when it moves it bewilders many
a beginner. However, the scheme is fairly simple (see Figure 2-5) when you consider the
• Dragging from one folder to another on the same disk moves the icon.
• Dragging from one disk (or disk partition) to another copies the folder or file.
(You can drag icons either into an open window or directly onto a disk or folder
• If you press the Option key as you release an icon you've dragged, you copy the
icon instead of moving it. Doing so within a single folder produces a duplicate of
the file called "[Whatever its name was] copy."
• If you press the key as you release an icon you've dragged from one disk to
another, you move the file or folder, in the process deleting it from the original
- NOSTALGIA CORNER
Dragging to Copy a Disk
Help! I'm trying to copy a CD onto my hard drive. When I drag it onto the hard
drive icon, I get only an alias–not a copy of the CD.
Sure enough, dragging a disk onto a disk creates an alias.
But producing a copy of the dragged icon is easy enough:
Just press Option or as you drag.
Honestly, though: Why are you trying to copy a CD this way? Using Disk
Utility (Section 10.30.9) saves space, lets you assign a password, and usually
fools whatever software was on the CD into thinking that it's still on the original
Tip: This business of pressing Option or after you begin dragging is a tad awkward,
but it has its charms. For example, it means that you can change your mind about the
purpose of your drag in mid-movement, without having to drag back and start over.
And if it turns out you just dragged something into the wrong window or folder, a quick
-Z (the shortcut for Edit Undo) puts it right back where it came from.
2.4.2. Copying by Using Copy and Paste
Dragging icons to copy or move them probably feels good because it's so direct: You
actually see your arrow cursor pushing the icons into the new location.
But you pay a price for this satisfying illusion. You may have to spend a moment or two
fiddling with your windows to create a clear "line of drag" between the icon to be moved
and the destination folder. (A background window will courteously pop to the foreground
to accept your drag. But if it wasn't even open to begin with, you're out of luck.)
There's a better way. Use the Copy and Paste commands to move icons from one window
into another (just as you can in Windows, by the way—except you can only copy, not
cut, Mac icons). The routine goes like this:
- 1. Highlight the icon or icons you want to move.
Use any of the techniques described on Section 1.9.3.
2. Choose Edit Copy.
Or press the keyboard shortcut: -C.
Tip: You can combine steps 1 and 2 by Control-clicking an icon and choosing the
Copy command from the shortcut menu that appears—or by using the menu
(Section 2.3.1). If you've selected several icons, say five, the command will say
"Copy 5 items."
3. Open the window where you want to put the icons. Choose Edit Paste.
Once again, you may prefer to use the keyboard equivalent: -V. And once
again, you can also Control-click inside the window and then choose Paste from
the shortcut menu that appears, or you can use the menu.
A progress bar may appear as Mac OS X copies the files or folders; press Esc or -
period to interrupt the process. When the progress bar goes away, it means you've
successfully transferred the icons, which now appear in the new window.
2.4.3. Dragging from the Title Bar
You may remember from Chapter 1 that the title bar of every Finder window harbors a
secret pop-up menu. When you -click it, you're shown a little folder ladder that
delineates your current position in your folder hierarchy. You may also remember that the
tiny icon just to the left of the window's name is actually a handle that you can drag to
move a folder into a different window.
- In most programs, you get the same features in document windows, as shown in Figure 2-
5. For example, by dragging the tiny document icon next to the document's name, you
can perform these two interesting stunts:
• Drag to the desktop or the Dock. By dragging this icon to the desktop or onto a
folder or disk icon, you create an instant alias of the document you're working on.
(If you drag into the right end of the Dock, you can park the document's icon there,
too.) This is a useful feature when, for example, you're about to knock off for the
night, and you want easy access to whatever you've been working on when you
return the next day.
• Drag to the Dock. By dragging this title-bar icon into the Dock icon of an
appropriate program, you open your document in that other program. For example,
if you're in TextEdit working on a memo, and you decide that you'll need the full
strength of Microsoft Word to dress it up, you can drag its title-bar icon directly
onto the Word icon in the Dock. Word then launches and opens up the TextEdit
document, ready for editing.
Note to struggling writers: Unfortunately, you can't drag an open document directly into
2.4.4. Spring-Loaded Folders: Dragging Icons into Closed Folders
Here's a common dilemma: You want to drag an icon not just into a folder, but into a
folder nested inside that folder. This awkward challenge would ordinarily require you to
open the folder, open the inner folder, drag the icon in, and then close both of the
windows you opened. As you can imagine, the process is even messier if you want to
drag an icon into a sub-subfolder or even a sub-sub-subfolder.
Figure 2-5. Top: By dragging the document-window proxy icon, you can create an
alias of your document on the desktop or anywhere else. (Make sure that the icon
has darkened before you begin to drag.)
Bottom: If you -click the name of the document in its title bar, you get to see
exactly where this document sits on your hard drive. (Choosing the name of one of
these folders opens that folder and switches you to the Finder.)
Instead of fiddling around with all those windows, you can instead use the spring-loaded
folders feature (Figure 2-6).
- It works like this: With a single drag, drag the icon onto the first folder—but keep your
mouse button pressed. After a few seconds, the folder window opens automatically,
centered on your cursor:
• In icon view, the new window instantly replaces the original.
• In column view, you get a new column that shows the target folder's contents.
• In list and Cover Flow views, a second window appears.
Figure 2-6. Top: To make spring-loaded folders work, start by dragging an icon
onto a folder or disk icon. Don't release the mouse button. Wait for the window to
open automatically around your cursor.
Bottom: Now you can either let go of the mouse button to release the file in its new
window or drag it onto yet another, inner folder. It, too, will open. As long as you
don't release the mouse button, you can continue until you've reached your folder
Still keeping the button down, drag onto the inner folder; its window opens, too. Now
drag onto the inner inner folder—and so on. (If the inner folder you intend to open isn't
visible in the window, you can scroll by dragging your cursor close to any edge of the