Using Spring-Loaded Folders

Spring-Loaded folders allow you to drag and drop files from one location to another, viewing what is inside the destination folder before dropping the file. This is particularly useful when you want to drop a file several levels deep. It works best when you are using column view, since you can move around through folders easily.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using Spring-Loaded Folders.

Let's take a look at a feature in the Finder called Spring-Loaded Folders. Now this feature has been around for awhile but it has changed quite a bit. It works a little differently now. The basic idea is that you want to put a file in a folder.

So you can click on a file and drag it and drop it into the folder and that works. But say you're not sure that's the right folder and you want to see what's inside first as you're dragging. If I were to drag over and wait you can see it blinks and I go into the folder but I'm still dragging. Now I can drop it. Not only can I leave it here but I can leave it in a certain position here in icon view. So it has that advantage.

One way to cancel this is to hit the Escape key. I'm still dragging. Still moving things around but I hit the Escape key on the keyboard and sometimes it seems to spring back to where you originally were which is nice. Sometimes it doesn't. I'm not quite sure why.

Now a more useful case is if you need to go deeper. So say, for instance, there's a folder inside of this projects folder. So if I were to drag Milestones to it and drop it in there it would only end up in the projects folder. I want it to go one level deeper. So I'll drag, wait, it will spring-load and now I can drag into this folder and drop it here. I'm going to Command Z to undo that and we'll go back up. I'm going to Command up arrow, up arrow to get here.

So that's basically all spring-load folders does. Now it was more useful in previous versions of Mac OS where you could actually, it would open a second window, and if you left that second window, you know dragged away from it, you would end up closing that one and you could try another. Here you kind of end up with this thing where, you know, you drag in and if it's not where you want there's really no way to get back up. So you end up hitting the Escape key and trying again.

However you can get different effects depending upon the view you're in. So here, for instance, in List view if I go to drag you'll see it opens it up as before and it's not much more useful. But in Column view it's very useful because I can drag and it will open it up and a column to the right can move to another one, and another one. Even over here. So I have a great ability tone able to control where this stuff is going. So I can decide where I want it to go without ever having to release. So I can go down into this one and decide this is where it goes. So it works really well in Column view.

Now you do have one setting that controls this. It's in System Preferences and in Accessibility under Mouse & Trackpad. A long time ago this used to be in the Finder preferences but now it's here. So under Mouse & Trackpad you've got Spring-Loaded delay. You've have a check box here where you can turn it on or off. Then you have Short or Long. So you can have a long delay.

Let's try it with a long delay and see what happens. Let's go to the icon view and go up and say I want to drag this in here. It's got a little bit longer of a delay there which may help you if you find you're accidentally doing this a lot. Maybe slowly dragging across. Note that you can hit the spacebar to immediately go in. The long delay isn't that long though. So I don't see it being that useful but it's nice to know that it's there.

Comments: 5 Responses to “Using Spring-Loaded Folders”

    John Turner
    1 year ago

    Great video! I can give this to the guy who lives with us who is new to his Mac and is still very new at it!

    mark a
    1 year ago

    While it wasn’t as easy to do as I would have hoped, if, while moving through folders, you want to return the file to the previous folder(s), you can hover the file and pointer over the back icon in Finder and it will go back.

    1 year ago

    The back/forward buttons and View Mode segmented controls are also spring loaded. After spring loading a folder, you can hover over the back button to go back without having to cancel the drag.

    Also, if you have a Magic Trackpad 2 (the one with force click) then you can force click while dragging to force a spring load to happen now instead of waiting for the timeout. (just be careful not to release the force click so much that you let go of the drag)

    1 year ago

    Thanks, I’ve been using it but I wasn’t aware about how much more useful it is in the Column View and about the use of the spacebar.

    1 year ago

    I’m not a fan of column view but I liked the idea of Spring-Loaded Folders. I don’t think it will work for me because when you enable mouse keys it defaults to column view when you open the finder. Otherwise it would be very helpful.

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