Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Drag files between application windows, part of macOS Sierra Tips and Tricks.
- [Instructor] Dragging files around in Mac OS and dropping them where you need them is pretty essential. Let's look at some options we have for dragging and dropping. I want to start with the simple stuff and then increase in complexity. I'm going to start with a folder I have here. Just going to go down to the subfolder where I've got some pictures that I'm using to build a document. Now, if I wanted to just open up a file to see it, I would double-click on it, of course, but that opens the file in its default application. If there's a different application that I want to open this file in, I can drag it to that application on my dock, as long as that application icon is already in my dock, of course.
So if I wanted to grab a picture here, and I wanted to open it in Preview, I could drag it to the dock, and I already have the Preview icon here in the dock. I can just drop it there. It launches preview, and now I can see that picture. Now, that's just one application. For now, I'm going to quit Preview because I want you to see that there are other applications in my dock that I could use to open this picture. So again, I'm going to drag it to my dock. If I wanted to send this file as an email attachment, I could drop it on the Mail application icon. If I wanted to add it to my Photos library, I could drop it on the Photos icon, or I could even drop it on Safari to open it up there.
Now, there are a lot of applications where you cannot drop this file. I cannot drop it onto the Reminders application, for example, but like I said, I could drop it on Safari. It will launch Safari and it will load that picture there. Now, usually, you're going to use Safari for browsing web pages, but you can see it's also capable of opening picture files. Okay, so that's pretty useful. Let me quit that. Now, what about adding a picture to a document in Microsoft Word? Here's what I would not do. I would not grab a picture, drag it down to the dock, and drop it onto the Microsoft Word icon.
I would not do that because Microsoft Word is really built for opening Microsoft Word documents, and it's not really going to work to open up a picture by itself. It makes more sense to start a document or open a document that you already have and then drag the picture over to that. So I've got a document here. I could double-click on it, or I could drag it down to the Word icon on the dock. I want you to see that this works with a lot of different types of files. Okay, so I've got my Word document open. I'll scroll to the page where I want the picture.
I'll move these windows side by side, and then all I need to do, if I want to add a picture to a document, is just drag and drop it onto that Word window. You can actually move around and place the cursor where you want that picture to be, and then drop it there. All right, so far, so good. But that worked fine because these two windows were side by side. Let's make things a little bit more complicated. I'm going to remove this picture. So I'm going to select it, hit the delete key, and now it's gone from that document. Now, as you have more windows open on your computer, you may end up with a scenario like this, where one window is blocking another.
Now, first, I want to look at a specific scenario where you can actually see part of the other window. Even when your screen gets cluttered, a lot of times you'll be able to see an edge or just a corner of the other window that you're interested in, and you can use that to your advantage. So, if I want to put this picture in the Word document, I can start dragging it, and because I can see just a little part of that Word window, I can point at it, hold there for a moment. I still have the mouse button held down, so I'm still dragging the file. I can drag that file where I want it in my document, let go, and that's a really good way to drag and drop a file into a Word document.
Now, this technique of dragging and holding on top of something is really essential also when you're copying and moving files in Finder. So let's see that. So for now, I'm going to minimize Word, and we'll focus just on Finder. Now, traditionally, if I wanted to copy or move this file to another folder, I would open up another Finder window, and in this window, I would navigate to the folder where I want this file, but we can use that technique that we just saw a moment ago of pointing and holding on things to our advantage.
So let's try that. I'm going to start dragging this picture, and I want to put it into a subfolder on my Documents folder, so I'm going to drag to the Documents shortcut in this other window, and I want to wait a moment, just point at it and hold, and you'll see it will open up that folder. And then I can move to a subfolder inside of my Documents. Then I can drop my file there, and I've moved that file over. So you see how that works. But we can actually do this even more smoothly with only one window. So I'm going to close this window, and let's try it with just one.
So I'm going to grab a picture, I'm going to start dragging it. Again, I want to put it into a subfolder in my Documents, so I can point at the Documents shortcut here on the sidebar, and now that folder becomes active. Now, I've lost my original view of the original folder, but that's fine, because I still have my mouse button held down. I'm still holding onto that file. So I can drag over to the folder I want, hold on that for a moment til that becomes active, then drop it here, and I've moved that file over. Now, of course, it really helped me that I had the shortcuts over here on the sidebar.
If you did not have those shortcuts, you could take the long way around. So, let me go back to the files I was working with, and if I did not have a shortcut to my Documents, I could drag a file to Macintosh HD on the sidebar, hold on that, then go to the Users folder, hold on that, then go to my Home folder and hold, and so on to Documents, to that subfolder, and I can still get to the same place, and I can drop my file here, but if you use these shortcuts to your advantage, it makes it a lot easier.
Okay, so those are a few things that we can do when moving files around in Finder. Let's go back to moving between different windows. So I'm going to leave Finder open, but I want to go into Safari. So I'm going to open that up. I want to navigate to a specific webpage. This is a tourism web page. I'm going to go to a specific subpage here, because I've got a picture here. You can actually save a picture from your web browser by dragging it into a folder in Finder. So I'm just going to move this over so we can see a little bit better.
I can click and hold on this picture. I can start dragging it. I can drag it over to this folder and drop it, and now I've got a copy of that file here in Finder. And I could just as easily click and hold on a shortcut or another folder and wait for those folder to load. Now, one thing that you're not able to do, if I open up this Word window, I'm not able to drag a file straight from Safari into Microsoft Word, but if you do copy that file into Safari first, then you can grab that file and drag it into Word.
So let's do that, but as we do that, I'm going to see a scenario where your screen is really cluttered, and everything is sort of blocking each other. Now, earlier we saw, if you can see just an edge or a corner of another window, you can use that to your advantage, but this time, I want to use a different technique. What if all of your windows are completely blocked by another window? You might want to use the Application Switcher keyboard shortcut, and if you haven't seen that, here's how that works. You hold the command key on your keyboard, and I'm going to keep holding the command key.
I'm not going to let go until I tell you. While the command key is held down, I can hit the tab key. That opens up the Application Switcher, and I can keep hitting the tab key as long as I have the command key held down. I can hit the tab key over and over, and what it's doing is it's highlighting the individual applications that are currently open. So if I want to switch back to Finder, I'll highlight that, and now I will let go of the command key, and now that application becomes active. So I can actually combine the command + tab Application Switcher with drag and drop.
So let's say I wanted to drag this picture into my Word document. Well, with my right hand, I'm going to click down on the mouse button and start dragging it. With my left hand, I'll use the command + tab keyboard shortcut to switch over to Word. I still have that picture being dragged, because I'm still holding the mouse button down with my right hand. I can move to where I want that picture in my document, let go, and now I've dropped that picture into my document. So I've combined the drag and drop with the command + tab Application Switcher. This technique is really essential if you have windows in separate Spaces.
Spaces are a tool for having multiple screens with completely separate tasks that you can switch between. One way to get to different Spaces would be to set one of these windows to fullscreen. So I'm going to hit the green button on Safari, and now Safari is fullscreen. If I hold the control key on my keyboard and hit the left and right keys, I can now switch between these different Spaces. So I have one Space, which is the original desktop, and another Space, which is a fullscreen Safari window. So if I scroll through here and go to a different page with a different picture, well, I'm definitely not going to be able to just drag this over to finder, so I'm going to have to combine the drag and drop with the Application Switcher we saw a moment ago.
So I'm going to click and hold on the picture and start dragging it. Then I'll use command + tab to switch over to Finder. Remember, I cannot drop the picture file directly on Word. I'm going to have to copy it into Finder first, but that's fine. So with the Application Switcher, I'll switch to Finder, and then I'll finish dragging it into this folder and let go. So those are some techniques for combining drag and drop with other tools to make things easier. I think the big message here is that you do not have to see both your starting point and your destination on the screen at the same time to drag a file from one to the other.
You can combine drag and drop with other tools, and you'll have much more control.
- Working with voice dictation and voice control
- Enlarging part of the screen using the zoom control
- Printing to PDF
- Customizing Finder windows
- Changing icons for files and folders
- Securing files with encrypted disk images
- Controlling what Spotlight searches
- Recording audio and video in QuickTime
- Managing available disk space
- Using the Activity Monitor