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Daniel Eran

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Old Dog, New Tricks
The Safari interface, while simple and uncluttered when compared to most web browsers, presents more options and complexity than a Finder window. Despite that, Safari's innovative interface features have proved to be easy and obvious to pick up. According to my webstats, nearly everyone with Mac OS X has downloaded Safari, and uses it routinely.
The added sophistication in Safari's browser has not left users confused and crying in the corner. This serves to negate arguments that many classic Mac UI fundamentalists like to make regarding the Finder. So let's smarten up the Finder with options to use Safari style bookmarks, searching, tabbed browsing, and direct addressing.
Direct Addressing!
Sacrilege! The Finder showing a path? Calm down, you can go back to dummy view by simple pushing the pill, giving you the basic Aqua Finder window. And of course, you could turn it off, just as one can now turn a limited path listing capacity with the 'Go to folder' menu command. If we can handle the Internet address bar, we can handle the choice to display a direct addressing path box. It's simply making 'Go to folder...' always available.

Tabbed Browsing!
Classic Mac users often like to have as many Finder windows open as they have icons on the desktop. But why not allow multiple file locations to be attached to a Finder window as tabs? It can be unnecessarily difficult to open two Finder windows and copy files between them; drag and drop between windows can be pretty clumsy when you have files deeply buried in a series of folders. It'd be great to leave tab open of a frequent file destination, so the window is available to drag files to without taking up the space of an open window.

Apple already knows how to drag and drop between tabs; simply copy the Bin interface from Final Cut Pro. It'd be cool to drag a tab out of the Finder window to make it a free floating window of its own, just as tabbed bins work in Apple's Pro Apps. Drag existing windows to each other to make them shared tabs in a single window. Safari should likewise allow for such slick tab/window dragging.
The Finder already allows for smart searching with a 'search selection' control. Oddly, Safari's Google search control looks similar but works differently; the Finder's search drop down lists different locations to search, while Safari's Google search drop down shows recent searches.

Maybe Apple's UI geniuses could figure out a simple control that allows for both, and upgrade both the Finder and Safari to list both recent searches and search options. Safari's search options? Expanded Google (Images, News, etc.)... plus Sherlock plug-ins! That would make Sherlock a functional service again, rather than a buried app nobody uses anymore.

Apple managed to make web browser bookmarks useful, smart and easy organize. It'd be great to apply the same interface to Finder windows, providing:

- instant access to file locations via menus of links to your files in a Safari style Bookmark Bar

- a compiled reference of Address Book listings of file locations and URLs (say, a home directory, file share, or local files you have related to that user in an Address Book entry)

- smarter browsing of available file shares than currently allowed in the strange new network browsing feature of the Finder. Browse listings from Rendezvous, AppleTalk, SMB Workgroups, and other file related network discovery services, just as Safari discovers Rendezvous websites dynamically

- an integrated listing of recent files, applications, locations and servers, just like Safari's History

- stored search results, which could function as static search results (like common Find searches) or 'smart playlist' style dynamic searches, which actively compile results based on your criteria (files created today; files containing "read me," preference files, files over 10 MB, etc.)

and finally, simply logically grouped files and locations that work like collections of aliases and URLs, grouped however the user finds useful.

Part IV > The Finder's Contributions


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