Open dialog trick

Rob Griffiths
28 May, 2008
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Here’s a simple trick you can use in OS X 10.5’s Open dialog box. Say you’ve decided to open a saved file in a given application. You press Command-O (or select File -> Open if you’re menu-inclined) and the standard file open dialog appears. You then navigate to your desired file, which is buried a few levels deep in your user’s folder. Once you’ve found the file, though, you realize you want do make a copy of it first — just in case something goes wrong with your planned edit.

You can switch to the Finder, of course, and navigate to the same folder, but that’s time consuming and seems redundant given you’re already looking at the folder you want in the Open dialog. So here’s the trick. Select the file in question (one mouse click), then press Command-R from within the Open dialog. The Finder will spring to the foreground, open a new window, and automatically select that same file in the new window.

This seems to work because the Open dialog responds to a number of the Finder’s keyboard shortcuts — Command-R is the shortcut for Show Original, which is used to show the parent file of an alias. However, in an Open dialog, it doesn’t seem to matter if the file you’ve selected is an alias or not; Command-R works fine on both.

There are some other Finder shortcuts that work in Open (and Save As) dialogs in 10.5. For one, you can use Command-I to look at a file’s Get Info window, as we discussed in this blog entry. You can also press Command-F to place the cursor in the Spotlight search box. Finally, most of the shortcuts in the Finder’s Go menu work (and I believe they also work in pre-10.5 systems) — so you can jump to your home folder with Shift-Command-H, or to the top level of your machine with Shift-Command-C.

Being able to use these keyboard shortcuts in Open dialogs can save a bit of time when you’re working with files in both an application and the Finder.

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