Apps we can't live without: DragThing

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I expected DragThing to disappear with the birth of OS X and its accompanying Dock. And, for a time, I lived without it in an attempt to make do with OS X's Dock. But I was spoiled. I liked having multiple docks, and OS X gave me just one. I enjoyed being able to throw a dock anywhere I wanted on screen--perhaps even on a second monitor (something I still do today). OS X's Dock restricted me to one of the primary monitor's four edges.

Given how unimpressed I was with the Dock, I was more than pleased when DragThing eventually shipped in an OS X-compatible version. My DragThing docks were back, along with the workflow I was so comfortable with. Better yet, Thomson catered to the whims of this long-time Mac user by allowing me to place the Trash back on the desktop where it rightly belonged. And his support for OS X didn't stop there. He additionally added support for OS X's Aqua graphics, which allowed me to make my docks transparent, thus displaying rows of small icons seemingly suspended in air.

Not a Drag

So, where do DragThing and I stand today? Like a lot of other DragThing users, it remains one of those utilities that I install almost immediately after setting up a new Mac. When initially configuring it I use three main docks: The Process dock shows all currently running applications. I use it to quickly eyeball what's currently running as well as a tool for rapidly switching to other running applications.

My Favorites dock is where I place applications, volumes, servers, Automator workflow applications, and folders I routinely use. (Those folders include Applications, Utilities, my Home folder, the Documents folder, and the DropBox folder that lives inside my user's Public folder.)

The Process dock's configuration screen.

I also have an Important Stuff dock which contains folders where I toss files after I've finished with them. For instance, I have folders for Macworld Stuff, Podcasts, Pictures, Macworld Videos, Music, Presentations, and Outside Projects. The originals of these folders are scattered across multiple drives and storage devices attached to my Mac.

When configuring DragThing, I shrink the dock's icons so that they're large enough to be recognized but small enough that I can fit a lot of them in a row--currently they're set at 25 by 25 pixels. I hide the window title bar, names, and tabs. Again, the idea is to show only the icons. Within the Visibility tab I enable the Use Translucency option and set the slider to 100 percent transparent so that nothing other than the icons are seen. In the Advanced tab I enable the Use Single-Click to Open Items option, which does just that--let's me click just once to engage a dock object.

I also configure a couple of universal options. I do this by opening the General preference and in the Switching area I enable the Hide Other Applications When Switching option (as well as the Only Hide When Switching Using DragThing). With these options enabled, whenever I click on an application in the Process dock, any other open applications are hidden. But if I want those applications to remain visible, I instead use OS X's Command-Tab shortcut to move between applications. In the Sounds tab I've enabled Use DragThing Sounds. This ensures that I know that something's really happened when I click on a dock item. Finally, I click the Trash tab and ensure that the Show Trash on Finder Desktop item is enabled.

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