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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar System
You can perform many useful tasks using the icon in the title bar of many OS X applications (known as the proxy icon), in both Apple-bundled (TextEdit, Preview, etc.) and third party (BBEdit, Path Finder, and numerous others) applications.

For this to work, you need to be using a file that has had its latest changes saved (otherwise, the icon will be grayed out). Normally, when you click-and-drag on the title bar of a window, you just drag the window around. However, if you click-and-hold directly on the proxy icon, and optionally add a modifier key, you can access other useful functions. Here's what happens in most applications, including TextEdit and Preview:
  • Drag icon: If you drag the proxy icon to a Finder window or your Desktop, an alias to the open file will be created at the location where you drop the icon.
  • Option-drag icon: Hold down the Option (Alt) key prior to dragging, and you'll create a copy instead of an alias.
  • Command or Control: Displays a pop-up menu of the folders that contain the open file. Select one of the entries to open that folder in the Finder. (You can use this one on either the proxy icon or the window title immediately next to the icon.)
[robg adds: These features have been in OS X for many many years. We've covered copy (relative to Preview, at least) and path in the past, but not the straight drag of the icon, at least that I could find. Given the information was scattered in a couple hints about specific apps, I thought I'd use this chance to create a new consolidated summary version.

Note that third party apps may behave differently. In my limited testing, Path Finder behaved like TextEdit, but BBEdit does a move of the file if you just drag the icon; you need to Command-Option drag the proxy icon to create an alias. Please add comments for other non-normal behaviors in apps that I didn't test.]
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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar | 18 comments | Create New Account
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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: CVBruce on Mar 16, '10 08:32:02AM

One use I've found for the proxy icon (I didn't know that was its name), is with Finder and Terminal.

Let's say that you have used Finder to navigate to a folder that is buried somewhere, and you want to open a terminal window in the directory.

Open a terminal window, at the command prompt type 'cd', now drag the proxy icon from Finder window and drop it on the terminal window, and hit return. The path is inserted into the terminal window at the current cursor position, with white space properly escaped and forward slash characters in file names (/) converted to colons (:).

There are lots of places in the command line world that using the proxy icon to grab the absolute path of a file system object saves a lot of typing, and in my case a lot of re-typing due to typos.



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: mankoff on Mar 16, '10 02:38:01PM
You might appreciate having the "OpenHere.app" in the top bar of your Terminal in this case. Makes opening terminal windows much easier than even the process you described.

http://www.entropy.ch/software/applescript/
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http://kenmankoff.com


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Drag right into an e-mail, too.
Authored by: sr105 on Mar 16, '10 08:37:40AM

It's worth noting that you can drag directly into e-mail and chat programs, too. It's useful for sharing screenshots and print previews.

Edited on Mar 16, '10 08:38:00AM by sr105



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Drag right into an e-mail, too.
Authored by: awado on Mar 16, '10 11:23:15AM

Well, it's actually very useful if you want to open the same document in a second application. For example: I have opened several JPGs in GraphicConverter and instead of searching them by their filename in Finder, I drag their proxy icon onto Photoshop's dock icon to open it there.

And BTW: Mail shows the corresponding mailbox of a message and Safari shows the URL path of a website if you CMD-click on it.



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: Quatch on Mar 16, '10 09:51:25AM

Right click on it also opens the directory list.



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: stokessd on Mar 16, '10 10:43:32AM

This is only a secret if this is your first week on a mac...



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: robogobo on Mar 16, '10 01:44:06PM

Interestingly, that isn't true. But, good for you!



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: maddys_daddy on Mar 23, '10 10:01:45PM

Then I guess it's a good thing that this site isn't targeted at solely advanced/experienced Mac users.
Seriously, there's no need for comments like these here.



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: everkleer80 on Mar 24, '10 11:24:34AM

I've been using OS X for over three years now and I never knew that. It's quite easy to get into the mindset that things that are obvious to you are obvious to everyone. I know I myself am guilty of getting impatient with people for not know some of the things that I have known almost my whole life. I'm still amazed, for example, that even most of the people at my Windows-based software company don't know that they can copy/move files by dragging them; they always cut/copy and paste to move/copy (which I didn't know you could do until I started here 8 years ago.)



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: chimerical on Mar 16, '10 11:42:06AM

It's also useful for dragging the current path of a folder into Terminal.app, and conversely, using "open ." to reopen that same path in Terminal back in Finder.



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: mankoff on Mar 16, '10 02:41:01PM

See "openhere.app" comment above. Much quicker than drag-and-drop of proxy icon.

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http://kenmankoff.com



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: ragmaxone on Mar 16, '10 01:41:21PM

You said : "Option-drag icon: Hold down the Option (Alt) key prior to dragging."
But you can drag it with any of the cmd ctrl or opt key pressed, and then change your mind and press another one.
In fact, no matter "how" you drag it, just press the key you want to use before dropping it (you can check what's going to happen by looking at the "+", alias or standard pointer).



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: Geobunny on Mar 17, '10 02:50:28AM

Support for this has actually been around since Mac OS 8.5, but you're right, it's definitely one of the less-well-known features but it's also one that I use on a daily basis. Another good one is dragging into an open TextEdit window to display a file's full path, or dragging into an open BBEdit window to copy the file's contents.



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: sf addict on Mar 17, '10 09:27:44AM

I regularly download new and updated applications that are in .dmg files and I've found that once the disk image is mounted I can CMD+drag the proxy icon to the Applications folder to create a new folder containing the application. This is especially handy if you like to keep any associated files on the disk image together with the application itself.

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Fun will now commence!



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: zo219 on Mar 17, '10 06:44:36PM

I find it's Option-Drag.



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: bauldrywc on Mar 17, '10 03:23:26PM

Just for fun I dragged the Proxy Icon of a text-based file (*.c, *.h, *.txt, etc) or a pdf into Safari's address bar. Et voila, the file is nicely displayed, too.



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Secrets of the proxy icon in a program's title bar
Authored by: korm on Mar 17, '10 03:36:08PM

If you right-click the title in Safari you'll see every level of the path to the page you are viewing. Easy for navigating back up the path.



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Works for ejecting volumes, too!
Authored by: maddys_daddy on Mar 23, '10 10:00:07PM

I frequently use this to eject volumes/disk images. Simply drag proxy icon of the volume/disk image from the Finder (or Path Finder!) title bar to the trash for a quick eject. Especially handy for those dmg's that open a finder window without a sidebar.



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