Version 5.3.7 of Default Folder X introduced a new capability: it can now ask what the default folder for an application should be on the fly using AppleScript. That may sound like a mouthful of jargon, so let me explain, because it can be applied in a lot of situations.
Jason Snell (of Six Colors and The Incomparable fame) has been writing about Macs forever, and is now a prolific podcaster. He emailed to ask if it would be possible to make Default Folder X more flexible. At that time, you could set a default folder for an application so that when you chose Save As, it always offered to save a file in that particular folder. His problem was that you have to set a single folder as the app’s default folder – just one.
Jason creates podcasts – lots of them. His reasoning was that if he could magically tell Default Folder X what podcast he was working on, it would always offer to save the component audio files into the folder for that podcast. Essentially: Wouldn’t it be great if you could edit an audio clip, hit Save, and have it automatically go into the folder for the current podcast folder? No re-configuring a default folder for each new project – it’d just work.
So he hit on this idea (which I think is just brilliant). He uses Apple’s Logic X application to create his podcasts. So for each podcast episode, there’s one master Logic X project file. To find the correct default folder for audio clips, all he has to do is look at all the project files and see which one has been saved most recently. The “Audio Files” folder sitting next to that project is where everything should go for the current project. He wrote an AppleScript to do this, which he shared on the Six Colors blog.
This can obviously translate to all sorts of different workflows. If you have one primary file for each project, it’s easy to tell which one you’re currently working on – it’s the one that’s been saved most recently.
How to set up an AppleScript to specify a default folder
So how do you wire up Default Folder X to do this? It’s pretty simple. Put an AppleScript script in:
or, if you want it to handle only a single application, put it in a sub-folder of the Scripts folder named for the application you want it to serve. To have it queried only for Preview, for example, put an AppleScript in:
The trick is that you need to implement this handler:
on getDefaultFolder(appName, dialogType, firstTime)
which returns the location of the default folder. Open up the sample script file in Script Editor (or your AppleScript editor of choice) and have a look. I’ve tried to explain things clearly in the comment at the top, and the script shows a number of different ways of returning folders to Default Folder X. And of course, you can also use Jason’s complete script as a starting point.
I think Jason’s idea is great – it streamlines work on multiple projects, but most importantly, it reduces the chance for error as you’re trying to meet that pressing deadline. I’d love to hear how others use this feature, so please drop me a line if it works for you too!
Default Folder X 5.3.7 is now available, and it displays a couple of additional pieces of metadata in the Info panel below Open dialogs, most notably the “last opened” date. It also addresses a number of issues, including problems with LaunchBar, sub-par behavior when file dialogs are very large or lie partially off-screen, keyboard shortcuts not working after using a menu bar app, and drag-and-drop problems with the Finder drawer. A full list of changes is available on the Default Folder X Release page or in the Version History.
This version also works around bugs in Mojave that have been affecting Default Folder X’s ability to list open Finder windows when those windows contain multiple tabs. It will now list those windows reliably, but may still get confused and show some tabs as being in their own, separate windows – but hey, at least they’re all there, right? Unfortunately, a complete solution requires that Apple fix the bugs that I’ve submitted.
And one very important note about Finder windows: The behavior of Default Folder X’s Finder-click feature has changed a bit. Most people won’t be affected by this, but if you have been relying on the fact that Finder-click showed windows that weren’t actually visible (because they’re in another Space or because the Finder’s hidden), you’ll find that they’re no longer appearing. They’re still in the Finder Windows menu in Default Folder X’s toolbar, or you can revert to the old behavior by following these instructions.
Finally, on the truly geeky side, you can now create an AppleScript to supply Default Folder X with a default folder for an application on the fly. When a file dialog comes up, DFX will run your AppleScript, and if it returns a folder, that’ll be used as the default folder for that file dialog. It works seamlessly and can really simplify things if you work in a project-based manner with a consistent way of determining where your project folder is. Look for a blog post about this shortly.
When you’re in a file dialog, Default Folder X provides a menu command to quickly search the currently displayed folder in HoudahSpot. This gives you the flexibility to search by file type, tags, content, modification date, or any other parameter you can think of.
Once you’ve located the file you want in HoudahSpot, Control-click on that file and use the “Default Folder X” menu to finish the round trip and send it back to the waiting file dialog (in Preview, in this case).
I’m happy to have had the chance to collaborate with Pierre Bernard, HoudahSpot’s developer, on this workflow. It delivers more convenience and time-savings to all the folks that use both HoudahSpot and Default Folder X.
If you have ideas for similar connections between your favorite indie applications, let the developers know – many of us are very receptive to your suggestions. Default Folder X also integrates with ForkLift and Path Finder, for example, because lots of people asked for it!
Version 5.3.6 of Default Folder X delivers fixes for a few problems that have cropped since the last release. The most significant is a bug that caused the mouse cursor to disappear when using an Open or Save dialog, resulting in things appearing “stuck”. This occurred if you were using SteerMouse or any other utility that modified mouse behavior on the fly.
A change that I made in 5.3.5 also resulted in Default Folder X’s Finder-click feature being disabled if there was a Keyboard Maestro floating palette showing anywhere on-screen. That’s now fixed in 5.3.6 – my apologies to all of you joint Default Folder X / Keyboard Maestro users out there!
This release also includes a number of bug fixes for crashes, startup hangs, user interface issues, and a problem with the Finder-click feature not switching its list of Finder windows when you switch Spaces.
You can see the release notes and grab the latest version from the Default Folder X Release Page, or by choosing “Check for Updates” from Default Folder X’s menu if you’re running it now.
In terms of new functionality, users of HoudahSpot (and those of you that don’t use it and should go try it now) will be happy to see that you can start a search directly from an Open or Save dialog. This helps overcome the weak search functionality that macOS offers by default in file dialogs. And with the upcoming release of HoudahSpot 5, you’ll be able to make “round-trip” searches, sending results back to the waiting file dialog after you’ve found what you want.
Compatibility fixes for LaunchBar and CopyPaste Pro are also in version 5.3.5, as well as a fix so that Default Folder X works in the Save dialogs used by Mojave’s new screenshot utility. The latter was an interesting (and understandable) situation: Mojave’s screen capture app basically covers the entire screen with a big, semi-transparent window to let you rubber-band select an area and whatnot. If you then choose “Other Location…” to select a folder, the attendant file dialog has to come up on top of the giant window so you can use it. Since the big window is covering everything else, including Default Folder X, DFX didn’t work because mouse and keyboard clicks couldn’t get through. It just wasn’t something I’d planned for – so now I have 🙂
Version 5.3.5 also offers a bunch of improvements for Default Folder X’s drawer in the Finder, fixes for bugs involving its selection of recent files and folders in Open and Save dialogs, a problem with file dialog sheets when they’re the full width of the screen, and issues with some many-button mice.
Oh, and the secret settings dialog now lets you turn on “view-matching” for the Finder-click feature, making Default Folder X apply whatever view mode (Icon / List / Column) is used in the Finder window to the file dialog. And you can specify a minimum width and height for file dialogs, preventing them from coming up in a uselessly-small default size. Hold down the Option key while choosing Preferences from Default Folder X’s menu to get there.
So I learned an important lesson in user interface design: There are times when you DON’T want a consistent look and feel. The user-confusion resulting from my mistake in Default Folder X 5.3.3 necessitated the release of Default version 5.3.4 yesterday.
First a little background: Due to the increased Privacy controls in Mojave, when you first launch it, Default Folder X has to lead you through several steps to give it permission to access necessary information and API’s. It does so by opening System Preferences and presenting a couple of dialogs that provide steps that you need to follow. Easy, right? These are the dialogs from version 5.3.3.
See a problem there? Well, I didn’t, and neither did my testers. But the dialogs are very similar – same heading text, same buttons – the fine print is different and the Default Folder X icons are in different places, but they’re a lot alike. The first dialog pops up, and after you follow its instructions, it is automatically replaced by the second one. Because they look alike, a lot of people thought that the instructions hadn’t changed and that they were stuck, with no option but to hit the “Quit Without Authorizing” button. And send me a freakin’ email… I got lots of email.
So here are the fixed dialogs. Different overall look, different boldfaced heading, and different buttons. And an important lesson learned: People are busy, and are not necessarily giving your app 100% of their attention. Make sure that when the state changes, the change is noticeable to them. Especially when their only option if they don’t notice the change is to quit your app.
Sooo – get Default Folder X 5.3.4. In addition to the updated Privacy prompts, it contains several bug fixes. You can get it from the Default Folder X release page, where you’ll also find release notes describing the changes.
Version 5.3.3 of Default Folder X is now available! I’ve been resistant to adding labels to the icons in the toolbar, but have finally been convinced – the improved usability for some people (especially casual users) trumps the aesthetic “messiness” of having the text there. The icon names are now turned on by default, but you can easily turn them off in the prefs, or just by Control-clicking above the “D” icon and choosing “Icon Only”.
This release also lets you set keyboard shortcuts to quickly hop to the Tags or Comments field below a Save dialog. And if you hold down the Option key while clicking the “Save” button to dismiss a Save dialog, Default Folder X will automatically open the folder you just saved your file to, letting you do whatever you need to do with it in the Finder.
There are also bug fixes to resolve several crashes that have been reported, tweaks to clean up the user interface in the Preferences window, and a compatibility fix so that the Finder Windows feature now works with the version of ForkLift distributed through the SetApp subscription service.
Check out the Default Folder X release page for a complete list of changes, as well as download links. Or if you’re already a Default Folder X user, just choose “Check for Updates” from its menu in your menu bar.
There were a couple of issues with Mojave that merited a quick update to Default Folder X.
Most importantly, the Finder Windows menu and Finder-click feature would ignore Finder windows that had their tab bar showing but only contained one tab. All your Finder windows would show up except for the single-tab ones. The behavior seemed almost random to the first people that reported this bug, and it was a maddening shortcoming to those who’ve become addicted to the Finder-click feature. At any rate, my apologies for the issue – the Finder’s handling of tabs changed in Mojave and I goofed when I updated Default Folder X, missing this case.
The second change seems minor to some people, but Default Folder X’s buttons in the Finder toolbar were the wrong size. They were designed using an early Mojave beta, and although Apple changed the button size afterwards, our beta testing failed to catch that. I know, I know – once it was pointed out to me, it drove me crazy. So it’s fixed now.
Version 5.3 of Default Folder X didn’t quite get it right with respect to some changes in the Mojave Finder: Its Finder-click feature omitted windows that contained multiple tabs. This release fixes that – if you use tabbed Finder windows in Mojave, Default Folder X will now list the windows as it should in its Finder window menu and will recognize them when you click on them.
Default Folder X 5.3.1 also resolves a couple of crashes (on all versions of macOS) and makes Default Folder X’s exclusion list apply to files that you’ve recently opened as well as excluding Default Folder X from that app’s Open and Save dialogs.
The big deal is, of course, full support for Mojave. That includes Dark Mode, Mojave’s new privacy controls, and the latest changes to the standard Open and Save dialogs. Default Folder X 5.3 should just work, though you will be prompted by Mojave to give it permission to control the Finder — that access is necessary to make Default Folder X’s ‘Finder-click’ feature work.
In addition, I’m excited to have found a way to improve Default Folder X’s tracking of recently-used files. In previous versions, Default Folder X relied largely on the ‘recent items’ tracking that’s built into macOS. That method had some significant limitations, mainly that it didn’t “see” files that were opened in apps that lack an ‘Open Recent’ menu item, like Safari and Firefox. Given how much stuff we upload to websites and open in web apps (like gmail) these days, that was a pretty big shortcoming. With Default Folder X 5.3, you’ll now find those files included in your Recent Files menu as they should be.
And on the how-many-times-has-this-been-requested front, you can now add separators to Default Folder X’s Favorites menu. That helps keep things visually organized so you can quickly get to the Favorite folder you’re after. To add a separator, open your Default Folder X preferences, click on the Folders tab, select Favorites, then click the ‘+’ button at the bottom. There’s now an option to create a separator. Once you’ve added one, just drag it up and down in the list to place it where you want.
There are also user interface improvements for the drawer that Default Folder X attaches to Finder windows, compatibility with iBooks and Newtek Lightwave, and a number of bug fixes and little tweaks.