You need to open three items in Microsoft Word, or two in Adobe InDesign, or any number in some other application. Unfortunately, you're already in the Open dialog box and don't want to switch into the Finder. No problem. If you can see the items you want to open, select all of them, and then press Return or click on the dialog box's Open button to open all the files at once.
How you select multiple items depends on what Finder view(Icon, List, and Column) you're using in the dialog box. (Change your view by clicking on the small buttons at the top of the dialog box, or by pressing Command-1, Command-2, or Command-3.) If you're in List or Column view, you can click on the first item and then Shift-click on the last to select them and everything in between. Alternatively, Command-click to select noncontiguous items. In Icon view, you can also drag a selection rectangle around icons to select them, using a Shift-click afterward to add an item to, or remove it from, the selection.
Tip If you're in the List view, you can select and open multiple items that aren't even in the same folder, as long as you can expand the folders to a level that displays all the items you want.
4. Take advantage of Quick Look
When you want to preview a file without opening it, nothing beats Quick Look. Luckily, you can use Quick Look when you're in an Open dialog box. This is especially helpful if you need to see a file that the application you're in doesn't open, such as when you're placing a document into InDesign or a graphic in a Word document.
In Leopard, you need a special Automator droplet described in Mac OS X Hints. But in Snow Leopard, you can use Quick Look the same way you do in the Finder. Just select an item in the dialog box and then press the spacebar. If you select multiple items, the Quick Look window provides a slideshow option. But, as in the Finder, you don't need the slideshow to easily see a sequence of files: use the Up or Down Arrow key to select the previous or next item in the dialog box's list, and the Quick Look window updates immediately.
5. Customize the columns you see in List view
Feeling restricted by the same old three-column setup in your Open and Save dialog boxes? Although the default columns—Name, Date Modified, and Size—are useful, sometimes you'd benefit more from a Date Created or Last Opened column. You can have these columns, and a few more, in Snow Leopard. With the dialog box in list view, Control-click on a column header for a contextual menu of column choices.
Custom Snow Leopard column headers