Saving Documents by Proxy

Last year, I wrote a lengthy post about creating new documents. When you're about to save a new document, most applications show a popup window with a tiny version of the operating system's file browser to let you choose a place, name, and format for your new document

Saving New Documents

This seems like a vestigial feature from times when computers were not powerful enough to hold more than one application in memory. As a result, applications had to use the tiny file manager to replicate some of the features of the real file manager.

Some applications have found simpler solutions. Pixelmator's export window, for exmple, simply lets you drag the little image icon to a Finder window to save it there.

Pixelmator's Export Window

Similarly, Keith Lang and Cris Pearson's1 awesome screenshot and picture sharing tool Skitch has a little proxy icon at the bottom of its main window where you can set the name and format of the picture, and then simply drag it wherever you want to save it.

Saving a picture using Skitch's Proxy Icon

In many cases, simply dragging an icon to save a document is much more convenient than using the "save document" file browser and searching for a directory whose window you've probably already opened in the Finder.

What's more, you don't necessarily have to drag pictures to the Finder. Instead, you can also drag them to any other application that accepts files. For example, you can drag Skitch's proxy icon into an FTP client's open window, thus uploading the picture directly, without taking a detour through your local file system.


On Twitter, Sweetpea Software notes that Create also does this, and has done so for a long time. Barry Frost writes that RISC OS also has this feature.

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designed for use cover

But wait, there's more!

Want to read more like this? Buy my book's second edition! Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web is now available DRM-free directly from The Pragmatic Programmers. Or you can get it on Amazon, where it's also available in Chinese and Japanese.