It’s easy to drag and drop stuff on the Mac; for a long time it was the only way to copy or move files and it’s still usually the most convenient. It’s also one thing that switchers from the PC take a little while to get; that whole right-click here, right-click there mentality can be hard to break. So here are a few tips for those who just haven’t got used to drag and drop yet.

If you want to open a file in a program that didn’t create it (say, open a JPEG in Photoshop) just drag onto its icon in the dock. Easy. But if you want to import something (like a sound) into something fancy (like Final Cut Pro) you should drag and drop to the relevant (in FCP it’s the Browser) window. If that’s obscured by something else, what can you do?

First, don’t close windows that are “in the way”. Click on the window you need to bring it to the front. You may need the open windows later and closing them wastes your time. If you need to bring many Finder windows to the front, click on the Finder’s icon in the dock. Find the file and open the enclosing folder in the Finder.

If you can see the destination window, great. Drag and drop. If you can’t, start dragging anyway, then use a key command to switch to the application you want. Command-tab switches applications nicely, and you can hold your dragged item(s) until you’re finished. Just hold that mouse button down.

If your file is on the desktop, even easier. From Final Cut Pro, press F11 to clear everything out of the way, start dragging your file from the desktop, then (still holding the mouse button) press F11 again to bring your windows back, and drop the file where you need to. You can also use Exposé to move files between two osbcured Finder windows, just press F9 or F10 instead of F11 in the previous example.

So, if you’re not sure if drag and drop will work in a particular case, try it. It probably will. It’s great in InDesign to pop any file directly into a layout, too.

Hope that helped. Back to my new addiction, Second Life.