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Improve usability when dragging items to a hidden Dock System
Many of us have turned on Dock hiding to maximize usable screen area. One small problem with a hidden Dock, however, is that when you want to drag a file onto an application or folder icon on the Dock, you don't always know exactly where to aim, since you can't see the Dock until the mouse is on top of it. As a result, you will usually drag the file to the wrong location on the Dock at first, and you will need to hunt for the correct target, all the while keeping the mouse button down. Sometimes you will even drop the file onto the wrong icon while 'scrubbing' the Dock for the right one.

My solution to this problem is to reveal the Dock with a keystroke after initiating the drag, but before the mouse reaches the Dock area. By doing that, I can visually locate the target icon first, and then drag the file straight to the target. No more scrubbing.

To facilitate doing that, I have assigned an easy-to-use keyboard shortcut to the action labeled 'Move focus to the Dock' in the Keyboard prefpane. By default, this action's shortcut is Ctrl+F3. That's just too cumbersome to type on some Apple keyboards, which lack dedicated function keys. But most of these keyboards have the F5 and F6 keys unassigned to any system function, so they are available for binding to whatever you wish. Either of these keys is a pretty good choice for assigning to this action.

You can find the 'Move focus to the Dock' action in System Preferences » Keyboard » Keyboard Shortcuts » Keyboard & Text Input.

After assigning (for example) F5 to the 'Move focus to the Dock' action, it becomes very easy to reveal the Dock in the act of dragging an item toward it before the mouse reaches the Dock area: just press F5 (or whatever) while dragging.

What would be even better is if some kind software developer would write a program that would automatically reveal the Dock if it detected you were dragging an item in its direction. Until that happens, the keyboard trick described here provides at least a little relief.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. On my MacBook, F5 is bound to raising the sound volume, so I tested it using F12, which is also awkward, but it did work.]
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unhide/hide key combo
Authored by: capacity on Apr 28, '11 08:16:50AM

Why not just use the unhide/hide dock key combination cmd-opt-d? For the purposes of this hint it's functionally the same as "move focus to the dock", it's a much easier key combo than ctrl-F3, and you don't have to re-assign a function key on a laptop (or use the fn key).



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unhide/hide key combo
Authored by: canisbos on Apr 28, '11 10:06:23AM

Because Command-Option-D will permanently unhide the Dock, and you will have to press it again to re-hide the Dock after the drag operation. Whereas using a keyboard shortcut to focus the Dock will only unhide it until you finish the drag operation.



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unhide/hide key combo
Authored by: capacity on Apr 28, '11 09:38:47PM

I find that when using your focus method, the dock doesn't automatically hide after dropping a file into a dock folder or into the right-side storage area and instead stays up until I click elsewhere (i.e., move focus elsewhere). It does, however, hide when dropping an icon on an application (because focus gets moved).

Anyway, I don't really use the dock (I use Quicksilver), but I just wanted to mention an alternative option.



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unhide/hide key combo
Authored by: canisbos on Apr 28, '11 10:28:08AM
By the way, I would argue that for people who prefer to keep their Dock hidden most of the time, it's almost always better to focus the Dock instead of unhiding it. If you find Cmd-Opt-D easy to press, I would assign it to the "Move focus to the Dock" action instead of "Turn Dock Hiding On/Off".

There are at least two nice benefits of focusing, rather than unhiding, the Dock. One: After you're done using the Dock, it goes back into hiding automatically. Two: Once the Dock is in focus, you can use the keyboard to select and act upon items in the Dock. For example, you can quickly activate a specific application by typing the first few letters of its name to select it and then pressing Enter. Another example: After selecting an item, press the up arrow key to activate Dock Exposť with the selected item in focus.

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Improve usability when dragging items to a hidden Dock
Authored by: Sigma on Apr 28, '11 11:45:11AM

You could also trigger exposť which unhides the dock with standard keystroke. (I was hoping you could also drop it right on a window of your choice, but instead you have to select the window, un-trigger expose, and then drop it on the window)

You can also use command + tab and drop it on an icon in the application switcher. This also gives you the option of switching to the application first (by releasing command while still dragging) and dropping it on a specific window.

These seem more useful to me because I can use them on other people's computers without setup, though your solution is more specific for your exact needs.



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Improve usability when dragging items to a hidden Dock
Authored by: S Barman on Apr 28, '11 12:34:03PM

If you drag the item to the area of the screen where your hidden dock is located (for example, the bottom of the screen) without letting go of the mouse button, the dock will appear and try to make room for your item where the mouse is located. Then all you have have to do is keep holding the mouse button and move the item to the location you want. Once you have the item located on the dock where you want it to appear, let go of the mouse button and you are done. The dock will disappear but you can move the mouse to the bottom of the screen to have it appear with your addition where you placed it.



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