Sibling Rivalry

So let’s move on to my next UI pet peeve^H^H^H^H^H^H serious issue.

I open one window, say a column view window, and navigate the filesystem hierarchy to a particular location. I see that location’s contents in the window.

Let’s say at that point I want to see, side by side with the original window, the contents of a location next to the original location. Two locations, same parent folder.

In Mac OS 9, this was trivial:

  1. Double-click the folder icon representing the sibling location, and it pops up in a new window.

In Mac OS X, to my knowledge, it is not trivial.

OS X thinks of Finder windows as separate working sessions, not as locations. Each session is distinct, and sessions don’t need to talk to each other.

Here’s the way I’ve figured out to do it:

  1. Drag the folder icon representing the sibling location into Terminal.
  2. Remove, by hand, escape characters preceding spaces anywhere in the location’s full path.
  3. Select the path and copy it.
  4. Open a new window.
  5. Press Cmd-Shift-G to invoke the “Go to the folder:” sheet for that window.
  6. Paste in the full path and hit the Return key.

Now, for locations that are easy to navigate to, this is overkill. Instead, just open a window to the same base location and navigate the same way as you did to get to the original place. But that’s a pain, and inelegant to boot.

Better solution? An “Open in New Window” folder contextual menu item would do the trick.

6 comments

  1. Stefan Mueller

    or you could Cmd-Doubleclick the sibling, thus opening a new window with it.
    you would still have to re-select the original location, and maybe change the view to column-style for the sibling window.

  2. Mark

    For those new (or, ahem, old) users unfamilar with all of the OS’s zillions upon zillions of keyboard shortcuts, Mac Help in Help Viewer actually has a pretty comprehensive list of them — just look for shortcuts. The very useful command-double-click to open in a new window is listed on the Finder shortcuts page.

    One of my favorites: command-clicking on the icon in a Finder window’s titlebar to see path hierarchy, which is also implemented in many other document-based apps, and even (so cool!) in a web-appropriate way, in Safari.

  3. Michael Rawdon

    Column View isn’t very compatible with Mac OS 9 styles of working. My read is that Column View is effectively a UNIX style of interacting with the file system. Which works great if you’re used to UNIX, and not so great if you’re not.

    As Henry Maddocks points out above, Finder Preferences:General:Always open folders in a new window will move you in the OS 9 workflow direction.

    The essential tension, as I’ve read elsewhere, is that the Classic Finder mapped folders to windows; a window is a GUI widget representing a folder. Column View (and for that matter list view) turns a window into a workspace in which you manipulate a file system.

    Icon View, List View and Column View in Finder in Mac OS X each represent a different way to work with the filesystem. All three are useful, although as an old UNIX hand I’ve found I’ve pretty much dispensed with Icon View, despite being an even older Mac OS hand. But then, I typically have 2-to-4 Terminal windows open at all times, too…

  4. Mark

    I agree about the essential tension, Michael, but I’d be wary of confusing the very hierarchical, pathfile-name-focused NeXTian beginnings of column view with hard-core UNIX-ness.

    Example: I work in an office of Mac users where no one knows pico from a pica and not one person has ever once cracked open the Terminal… (In fact, no one is even *allowed* to officially have Terminal.) And just about everyone here I see uses column view most of the time — as their default view and for finding files.

    Origins aside, it’s just a very efficient, surprisingly friendly way of navigating through complex hierachies… or anywhere.