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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use System 10.5
This may seem like a really obvious life hack, but for all the rankling about the new Stacks feature, I wanted to share the thing that has really won we over to Stacks and the new Dock.

Maybe some people take pride in having a tiny dock filled with a ton of apps, but I find that if the icons are too small, and there are simply too many of them, it's not usable. At the same time, I want to have all my apps, even infrequently used ones, immediately accessible. I've tried launchers, but it just feels like too much clutter.

So in Tiger, my dock had 30+ hard to see tiny tiny app icons. But in Leopard, using the following method, I am finding the 10.5 dock to be the best launcher ever. I've created little stacks of apps for each app area and the big suites:
  1. Productivity: MS Office and iWork
  2. Creative: Adobe CS3
  3. Utilities: Just the ones I use most
  4. iLife: iLife applications
  5. Media: Players, download tools, etc.
To do this, I created new folders for each stack. Each of these is a real folder with aliases to the respective apps. It took maybe two minutes. The benefit over Tiger is that stacks are all visually identifiable, because the stack of app icons show thru, no thinking up some custom icon for an office suite or mousing over identical folder icons trying to figure out what's what.

The result is that my dock is down to 18 reasonably-sized app icons, easy to see and use. Seldom-used apps are all easily found and launched. It's exactly what I have always wanted since the OS 9 days, a simple gateway to managing active and available apps. And as long as you keep the number of things in the stack down to less than 10, it looks cool and is very usable.

One additional stack for key project folders, and I am much happier than I ever was in Tiger. I hated those identical folder icons. Note that contrary to the online demos, you can't really grab a set of items and put them on the dock to create a stack. You can only create a stack with a real filesystem folder as far as I can see.
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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use | 28 comments | Create New Account
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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: mdallen on Nov 01, '07 07:55:12AM

I'm afraid this just doesn't make up for the loss of hierarchical folders in the Dock. If I need a custom icon on the folder I place in the Dock in Tiger I just copy and past it from the Application it represents.

Mark Allen



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: Ripcord on Nov 01, '07 08:04:43AM

Yep, that worked so nice and clean... And way more flexible. In fact I did the same kind of thing mentioned in this hint, but I put them all in the "Applications" folder, which then I could just navigate through in a nice hierarchical popup.



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One word
Authored by: frgough on Nov 01, '07 11:17:50AM

DragThing

It stinks you have to pay money to get back functionality, but it's a good solution.

However, I like the stacks method myself, only I hate the look, so I put an empty folder with the desired icon and give it a name starting with a space to reflect the stack contents. Sort by name and now you have a much nicer looking stack: a folder that looks like it's stuffed with your documents.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: junkie on Nov 02, '07 09:48:25AM

Right, the is not meant to be a substitute for hierarchically digging thru a menu.

I hope they bring that back for people who want it but I for one never used that tip of putting your hard-disk or app folder on the Dock. It always felt too slow to me.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: JaxMyers on Nov 01, '07 08:16:35AM

I agree that there needs to be a way to navigate a folder hierarchially from the dock (like in Tiger), but separate folders with aliases in them has been working pretty well for me in the meantime. I used to have my entire Applications folder in my dock, but with my small screen (12") it means having to scroll through a whole list to find what I wanted. I find that the individual "stacks" for different Application categories makes launching apps quicker, because there are less apps per stack and its easier to find what I want.

I also found in Tiger that it sometimes took too long for a folder to load when I right clicked from the dock. Maybe that's just because I have an old Mac though.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: mdallen on Nov 01, '07 08:45:03AM

I guess I'm just too used to having my Applications folder in the Dock and going right to it. On my computers it loads right up with no delay. Thanks for the tip though. It's good that people are trying to improve on what I consider a lacking OS upgrade.

Mark Allen



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: morespace54 on Nov 01, '07 09:07:01AM

Could you do this with a Smart Folder?

I don't know, something like "The 10 recently opened applications"...

This way, you would be sure that you never have too much applications in that folder but still have access to your "most used applications" (sort of)...



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: acalado on Nov 01, '07 10:20:08AM

Unfortunately, smart folders don't show up as stacks. I'm really disappointed because I had this brilliant idea to make a smart folder that displayed all applications that had no label. Then I would simply label any application I didn't want to show up in the stack. This way, I could exclude apps (like Adobe Help Viewer) without having to actively add applications to the stack. New apps I installed would automatically show up, and I could then simply give them a label if I didn't want them to show.

Alas, my dream was shattered when I added the smart folder to the dock, and it simply showed up as a folder than when clicked, would open a Finder window.

If anyone knows of a way to make a smart folder show up as a stack, please let me know!



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: otagi on Nov 02, '07 06:57:12AM

Note that the system menu has a list of recently opened applications, if that's all you need.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: rmanke on Nov 01, '07 11:04:37AM

Good post. I did this as well. It's great for apps you rarely use.

Too bad it has to be on the "right side of the road"...! (right of the separator in the dock)

Maybe someone will be enterprising enough to make an AppleScript that will do it for the "left side of the road".



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: afb on Nov 01, '07 12:08:30PM
I can't help but wonder if someone at apple saw this as a throwback to the pop-up folders in OS 9, which were very useful back then, but seem at least to me to be far less useful than LaunchBar or Quicksilver at getting to apps that aren't always running (which are the only things I "keep in" the dock, 14 including the Finder and Trash). Like the poster writes, a dock with a ton of tiny icons isn't all that good.

That said, it doesn't excuse the elimination of the hierarchical menus (which can also be (more neatly, imho) replaced by LaunchBar or Quicksilver).

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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: MartiNZ on Nov 01, '07 12:49:34PM

It's a good idea. I'm gradually coming around on stacks. While I personally like to have all my regularly used apps in the dock, and thus have the dock not change size very often, ideas like this are I think where Apple was pointing us with the original concept - the whole "drag a bunch of files to the dock to make a stack" movie from WWDC.

I'm working with stacks similarly but with bunches of folders instead, and was lamenting not having access to the stacks while in open/save dialogs, until I realised I could just put the stack folders in the sidebar! It keeps the content there to a minimum, while increasing its utility - bonus.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: Rknight on Nov 01, '07 05:57:16PM

Great idea, just did it myself, but the part I'm mift about is one that everyone has been complaining about the Stacks, the look of stacked icons. What a messy look. And to make matters worse the Alias little arrow icon is in the lower left corner of every darn stacked icon so it looks like an endless row of little black curved arrows.

The only way around it that I can find is make the first item in your stacked folder be the desired icon you want and hope its blocky in shape (no transparent elements through it) and large enough to distract from the alias arrow.

Please Apple, give us a CHOICE of the Stacks icon, that isn't asking to much is it? lol



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: MartiNZ on Nov 01, '07 06:39:18PM

Yeah, surely at least the alias arrows was an obvious thing for them to remove in the stacks; unless they just haven't changed anything like that since they butchered the functionality and made folders full of aliases the best/only use of stacks!



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: Rknight on Nov 01, '07 08:33:04PM
Yeah well Apple didn't but after I posted my first reply I found a tip on how to remove the alias arrows from Macworlds site. I can confirm that this works with Leopard, except the [killall Finder] command did not reset the arrows like it said. But a simple re-login made it work like a charm.

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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: junkie on Nov 02, '07 09:32:03AM

But then you lose alias badges in all cases in the Finder - alias badges do serve a purpose.

I agree with above that it is annoying to have all those arrows, and there is no need for an alias badges to be shown in the Dock - every icon on the Dock is an alias. It makes no difference to know that some point to aliases and some point to the file directly. Apple should just filter those badges out of the Dock.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: Anonymous on Nov 01, '07 10:38:41PM

"I want to have all my apps, even infrequently used ones, immediately accessible. I've tried launchers, but it just feels like too much clutter"
Err, you want all the applications accessible, but something like Quicksilver, which is completely invisible until activated by Ctrl+space is more cluttered than having them all in your Dock...?



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: junkie on Nov 02, '07 01:08:53AM

Lot of people love Quicksilver but its not for me, I like to see stuff. I want a visual interface.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: Mac Berry on Nov 02, '07 05:15:19AM

I'm with you on that one! I like the G in GUI to stand for Graphical! Oh, hang on, it's already meant to!

I'm not knocking the people who do, 'cause it obviously works for them, but it stuns me when I see people explaining how they (for example) use Terminal to make a backup of a file (re-name it). I just don't get how starting terminal, switching to the appropriate directory, then typing "sudo mv filename.ext Filename -old.ext" is better than opening finder, navigating to the directory, then hitting return! GUI every time for me please!

Mark



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: Mac Berry on Nov 02, '07 04:24:03AM

I'm with you on that one! I like the G in GUI to stand for Graphical! Oh, hang on, it's already meant to!

I'm not knocking the people who do, 'cause it obviously works for them, but it stuns me when I see people explaining how they (for example) use Terminal to make a backup of a file (re-name it). I just don't get how starting terminal, switching to the appropriate directory, then typing "sudo mv filename.ext Filename -old.ext" is better than opening finder, navigating to the directory, then hitting return! GUI every time for me please!

Mark



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: Mac Berry on Nov 02, '07 04:26:10AM

This was , meant to be in reply to another reply above! I'll copy it to the correct location seeing as I can't edit or delete my own posts :(



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: allenwatson on Nov 03, '07 09:23:34AM

For hierarchical menus, though, LaunchBar is halfway between textual and graphical. Cmd-Space to access LB, and then type the start of the folder name or a very short abbreviation you've trained LB to recognize. Then, you can navigate that folder's hierarchy using right arrow and up and down arrow keys. You can click on a folder or use paging keys to make larger leaps. For me, that is much easier to control in a deep menu hierarchy than the popup sort of thing you get with the Dock's old hierarchical menus.

That said, the Stacks approach is lacking because, if your stack contains folders, clicking them opens them in the Finder. You can't drill down. So you are forced to manually create a folder of aliases. It needs work, or additional tools, like an AppleScript that will let you select a bunch of files and will automatically create a folder of aliases for those files. That would be easy to do, I think.

---
Microsoft MVP for Entourage
AppleScripts for OE and Entourage



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Post flames here ;)
Authored by: Mac Berry on Nov 02, '07 04:46:21AM
I have no idea how to word this without inviting flame upon flame, because I know some people will take this to be what they want it to be, not what I intend, but here goes anyway. If you don't like even the faintest suggestion of "I want what Windows has", please look away now: This is one tiny little, isolated, NOT to suggest everything else is so, thing that Windows does better IMHO. I'm NOT arguing for a start menu, but the fact that when a new app is installed in Windows a shortcut is automatically created, which you can then move and re-name to your hearts content without risking a non-working app, rather than just putting everything into a single folder with no organisation and that we're not meant to touch, helps no end. In other words, I'd just like an automatically created duplicate of the Applications folder, which contained Aliases instead of the actual .apps, that I could then arrange as I see fit ready to use with stacks, or hierarchical folder menu's (yep, taking them out was a pretty thick move Apple), or even just a better organised folder in Finder. Again - I DON'T WANT A START MENU! I do want an equivalent of Windows' start menu folder though, to allow better organisation of my apps. I imagine that the original stacks concept was an attempt to provide something along these lines - a way to organise things to the users desires, without messing up actual folders. Mark

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Post flames here ;)
Authored by: Mac Berry on Nov 02, '07 04:48:28AM

Urrggghhh. How do I get carriage returns into HTML formatted posts? Sorry about the wall of text.



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Post flames here ;)
Authored by: jiclark on Nov 02, '07 08:22:02AM

I use <br>; not sure if there's a better option...



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Post flames here ;)
Authored by: riqay on Nov 05, '07 03:22:26PM

I've been thinking about something I'd like to see with stacks and the dock and, like you, have been worried about the notion that I "want what Windows has." But since you brought it up...

The thing that always clutters up my dock is the crazy collection of minimized Safari browser windows (each of which contains any number of tabs). My dock just fills up with minimized windows. It also happens with Preview and minimized PDFs. In fact, it happens all the time, even when I separate applications into Spaces (because the dock remembers everything that's minimized, no matter which Space the application resides in).

With OS X (and lately Safari) never crashing, I end up browsing and working in so many directions that I can easily have a dozen windows from Safari, Preview, or Word lined up in the dock. After a while, the dock fills up and becomes cumbersome to access and (to me) rather unsightly.

What Windows does when you have too many application windows open at once is to create, you guessed it, a dynamic stack of buttons. Suppose you have six IE windows open. Instead of having six buttons down on the start bar, you have one button. Click on it and you get a list of all the open IE windows from which you can pick the one that you want to un-minimize.

I want the Leopard dock to do that. If I have more than one Safari (or Preview, or Word, etc.) window minimized to the dock, I want Leopard to dynamically create a stack of Safari windows that I can click on to see thumbnails from which I can pick one window to view.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: GregC on Nov 02, '07 09:50:05AM

Each to his/her own of course, but (when I'm in the Finder) I hit Cmd+Opt+A to open the Applications Folder, then type, eg, su (for SuperDuper), then hit Cmd+Opt+O to launch the app and close the Apps Folder (with the same keystroke). Some apps need an additional Cmd+O to open their folder first. Isn't as convenient for every app, particularly CS3 apps because all start with "Adobe", and you just cant beat Quicksilver, etc, but it's a useful method.



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10.5: One way to put Stacks to good use
Authored by: iamQ on Nov 10, '07 01:42:12AM

i too miss the tabbed windows from OS9, they were very useful. Ever since those good old days i have been a big fan of DragThing and still use it with no Leopard problems so far.

For the uninitiated DragThing is a flexible, flexible launcher/dock with the ability to hide itself and display different tabs for all of your stuff, and you can have as many different docks as you want and each can have its own style and behavior. It is ridiculously customizable. It can do everything described in this thread so far except for fan out the icons.

Between that and Quicksilver and Apple's dock, i've got plenty of redundant access, but they are all hiding off the edges of my screen, save for a set of tabs divvying up my work apps which runs vertically along the left of my monitor. Lots of actionable icons, no eyesores.



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