Today I learned about Apple’s clever file-dragging trick for macOS

Apple has made macOS superb at dealing with drag and drops. For instance, I typically pull an image proper out of the Photographs app or Safari and drop it into iMessage or Slack. One factor that’s all the time slowed me down, although, is shifting round extra conventional information, like PDFs or different paperwork.

However then I discovered that fairly a couple of apps, together with most of the built-in ones, have a fast shortcut to get on the file you’re viewing. Utilizing this shortcut (which is formally referred to as the proxy icon), you’ll be able to simply do issues like add a PDF you could have open in Preview to Google Drive with out having to go searching for the file in Finder. Right here’s the way it works:


Nary a Finder window was opened.
GIF of somebody dragging a file from Preview to a Safari window with Google Drive.

The trick is utilizing the title bar, which is the realm the place Apple places the site visitors light-style window controls and the identify of the file you could have open in addition to different buttons, relying on the app. When you hover over that file identify for a second, you might discover that a bit of icon seems to the left of it. (Some apps don’t require the hover.) That is what lets us do our magic. When you click on and drag that icon, you’ll mainly be clicking and dragging the precise file as should you had been utilizing the file supervisor.

To be clear, this isn’t a brand new characteristic of the most recent macOS beta or something. I’m fairly positive I discovered about it when somebody talked about it within the context of options which were round so lengthy that younger whippersnappers like me have by no means even heard of them. So, sure, I’m a bit late to the occasion right here. However now that I lastly discovered about it, I exploit it on a regular basis.

One in every of my commonest use circumstances is when I’ve to learn by a PDF for work after which add it to DocumentCloud so I can embed it in an article. I used to try this by minimizing Preview after which searching round for the doc on my crowded desktop, utilizing Fast Look (the factor that previews a doc whenever you press the area bar) to verify I wasn’t importing the flawed factor. Now, I can simply drag and drop the factor I’m studying straight from Preview, very similar to I do within the GIF above.

I’ve additionally discovered loads of different methods to make use of the characteristic. If I’ve Finder in a sure mode, I can use it to rapidly copy the trail of the folder I’m in into Terminal. (Bonus tip: should you drag and drop a file or folder into Terminal, macOS will simply insert the trail to it.) I even used this characteristic on QuickTime to make the display screen recorded GIFs you’ve been seeing on this article.

Gif of someone dragging a file from QuickTime onto the Choose File button in a website.

Oh yeah, do you know you’ll be able to simply drag information onto the default Select File button?

Whereas this gained’t essentially apply should you’re simply utilizing this characteristic to share information between apps, I do have one phrase of warning should you, like me, assume “wait, what occurs if I drag the file from the title bar right into a Finder window?” The reply is that it’ll transfer the file from wherever it’s at the moment to wherever you dropped it. That’s an affordable default, I suppose, however it may find yourself being complicated should you assumed that it could copy and paste the file slightly than minimize and paste it.

Sadly, this isn’t one thing that each single app can do. I couldn’t discover a technique to seize information from Obsidian or Photoshop, for instance — although the latter isn’t precisely stunning. However there are a good variety of apps that I’ve been ready to make use of it with, together with Pages, Blender, Logic Professional, Nova, and even Microsoft Phrase of all issues. If there’s an app you’re taking a look at information in often, it’s value checking if it helps this characteristic; you by no means know when it’ll come in useful.

However wait, I’ve acquired one final bonus tip should you’re sticking round within the title bar — although if I’m being trustworthy, it’s a bonus as a result of I haven’t run into any conditions the place it’d be helpful. Along with with the ability to drag the file icon, you may as well right-click it to see which folder that file lives in (and which folder that folder is in, and so forth and so forth). From there, you should utilize the checklist to rapidly open a Finder window navigated to that folder.

Proper-clicking on the file icon enables you to simply inform the place it’s situated in your disk.

Whereas discovering this method wasn’t an earth-shattering revelation that 10x-ed my productiveness, it has helped minimize down on the period of time I’ve spent trying to find information I have already got open. And that’s nice as a result of having to try this can, mockingly, be an actual drag.