[xplorer˛] — Fun with drag-drop
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"Round here you have to run faster just to stay in the same place" — The Red Queen

As I stare at my nearly empty flat, everything but the laptop already boxed and on its way to greece — the author to follow suit shortly — I can't help pondering life's too complicated. My grandfather was the "rolling stone" of the family on account of having travelled from his village to the nearby town for a funfair once. Two generations down, I move around from London to Thessaloniki, lock stock and barell, like as if it's something natural. The first time they saw a computer in my father's village, they (alledgedly) turned it upside down to see if it's male or female <g>, now I have 2 monitors around me looking like NASA's launch centre.

What's the point in all this "progress"? I don't know! This eternal fast-paced change is stressful for many people. (and now let's see where I am driving at) Having something simple as drag-drop, is a welcome oasis in the sandstorm of modern computer use. Grab something with the mouse and move it over there, easy. It works with files, chunks of text, pictures, and it is a natural operation ported to the computer desktop.

We all know how to drag-drop but there are a few less known twists that I want to talk about today. What do you do for instance when you cannot see the target of the drop? Plenty of tricks may help:

  • Drag-scroll. If your drop target is out of sight but in the same window place the mouse right at the border of the window; the contents will start scrolling in that direction, bringing the target into view.
  • Unusual targets. Did you know that the xplorer˛ drivebar accepts drops? Each letter represents a disk drive. You can also drop on folder tabs to send files in hidden folders.
  • Spring-loaded folders. You can browse folders while dragging. If you hover, that is leave the mouse hanging over a folder node in the tree for a while, it will be opened for you automatically. Likewise hover on a hidden tab to bring the folder upfront.
  • Switch applications. If your target is a different window altogether, press <ALT+TAB> a few times until your window is selected, then release to bring it upfront and drop to taste. A similar trick is to drag the mouse over the windows taskbar and hover for a while on the button that represents your target window.

And if none of the above helps, just press <ESC> key (or click on the right mouse button) to abandon the drag and prepare your target manually. If you drop by accident and you can't figure out where the files are, the menu command Goto > Drop target will help.

Have you ever noticed the shape of the mouse cursor while you are dragging? It gives you visual feedback on the outcome of a drop at the current location:
Move A plain rectangle under the cursor means that the dragged file will be moved, i.e. it will be deleted from its original folder and kept in the drop location. You can force this drag mode by holding down <SHIFT> key while dragging.
A boxed cross under the cursor means that the file will be copied where you drop it, keeping the original in its source folder. The mode can be forced if you hold <CTRL> key while dragging.
A boxed arrow under the cursor implies that a shortcut will be created when you drop, pointing to the source file(s). You can force the link mode holding both <CTRL> and <SHIFT> keys at the same time.

If you can't be bothered to remember all the keyboard modifiers that change the drop mode, you can drag with the right mouse button; when you drop you will get a menu out of which you select whether to move or copy the dropped items.

This covers everything there is to know about drag-drop. Not rocket science but useful. As a recap here's a demo video for some of the drag-drop techniques
Next week's blog will be coming from greece (still in english) — good bye london!

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