March 2006

Default Folders in OS X: Solved

When I got my web design job in 2003, I had to switch over to mac after being a PC user all my life. With OS X it wasn’t that bad of a switch; some things were more intuitive, like being able to drag and drop a file into an application’s shortcut in the dock (as opposed to dragging a file to the taskbar application shortcut, waiting for the application to maximize, then dragging it into the application). Some thing swere less intuitive, like the fact that terminal is an application buried in a subfolder when the OS is based on a command line interface, or how DVD player is an application also buried and not integrated into the OS (it launches when you insert a DVD, but if you quit the application you have to launch it again to play the DVD, there’s no easy way to play a DVD already in your drive.)

All in all though, I like OS X better now than windows XP. Its crash support is amazing; if an application crashes it almost never affects other applications nor does it grind the machine down to a halt. It’s prettier and for the most part, the details in the OS are really what shine.

There was one thing that always bugged me though, that drove me nuts about OS X: its file dialogs for opening and saving files. I should go into a critique of all of the things that bug me about it, but the main problem was when I was doing web design in golive:

Let’s say you’re in golive and you have 15 images to add. You click on the browse button in the inspector and it opens the documents folder. You browse to the desktop, to your website folder, to the site folder, to the images folder and select the first image. Ok. Then you click on the second image and click browse. And you’re back in the documents folder and have to do it all over again. Golive also uses the “stupid” open dialog, that is, it doesn’t give you the recent folders menu to select the folder you were just in. This wasted hours of my time!
In OS 9, there was a system preference that let you choose where to save and open all of your documents. You could choose the last folder used by that application, the folder set by the application, or the documents folder. I believe this was possible in 10.1 and 10.2 as well.

OS 9 file preferences

This preference was done away with in OS X 10.3+ and above, because apple revised their ‘navigation services’ code.

Anyway, the solution. Unfortunately, this is a solution that costs money, or it bugs you every time you boot your computer if you don’t pay. It’s a shareware solution. But I can’t work efficently on my mac without it. It’s Default Folder X. Get it here:

It has a lot of nifty features like folder bookmarks, default application folders, directory tree drop downs, etc., some of which are disabled when the shareware expires. But the only thing that I really need and use all the time, are these preferences which are the default preferences when the shareware expires:

Default Folder X Preferences

Basically it tells OS X, ‘stop throwing me in the documents folder and put me back where I just was.’ Thank you default folder X! Problem solved for now, unless someone can tell me how to hack OS X myself to do this.

What this site is about

Ok this is my first post. I’ve solved a lot of problems in my life and have a lot of problems yet to solve. I attribute a lot of what I know and what I’ve learned, and as a result who I am, thanks to the collective knowledge of the internet. My goal for this site is to contribute to that collective knowledge (it feels like a waste sitting in my brain, especially since it decays and I forget about it, so this site is a resource for me too), and to open the site up to have others solve problems as well. Hopefully along the way we can talk about the process of solving problems along the way.

Problems can be as small as a bug in a computer to as large as world hunger. They can have two statuses: solved or unsolved. I’ll be posting a lot of technical problems I’ve solved, because those are most of the problems I’ve solved, but I hope to post about other problems I’ve solved and haven’t as well. They can be political (for instance, I think the current administration being in office is a problem) or not. They can be personal–how you solved a relationship problem, how you overcame a personal problem. They just have to be real. I want to hear about the method you used to solve the problem–was it the scientific method? Was it faith based? How did the solution come to you? When did you know it would work? What did you learn from it?

My first problems to solve with this site: Figure out a way for the community to contribute to it. And after I’ve published enough content, redo the theme from this generic (but pretty) wordpress theme.