Drag and drop to Dashboard widgets

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If you’re using OS X 10.4, here’s something you may not have realized about Dashboard: It supports drag-and-drop. Many widgets will accept dropped objects; for those who like using drag-and-drop, this is welcome news. Dragging text and images to Dashboard is just about as a simple as dragging them anywhere else—just select the object or text you wish to drag, click-and-hold, start dragging, press F12 to activate Dashboard, and then navigate to the desired widget’s work area and drop the selection. Note that the desired widget must already be open in Dashboard; you can’t open a widget from the Dashboard bar while dragging something.

So when might you want to do this? Suppose you’re browsing the web, looking for information on some recent event in Spain. You don’t speak Spanish, but one of the links leads to a Spanish language Web site. Highlight the text you wish to translate and drag it into the Translation widget (assuming you have the widget set to translate Spanish to English, of course). Or how about looking up words in the dictionary? OS X has a great built-in dictionary lookup feature (control-click on a word and choose Look Up in Dictionary from the pop-up menu), but it doesn’t work in every application. If you’re in a non-supported application, highlight the word you wish to define, drag the word, press F12, and drop the word on the Dictionary widget. Presto, instant definition.

This also works with many third-party widgets, of course. The Picture Frame widget from Wigetaria, for instance, only works via drag-and-drop. Just drag and drop your favorite image into the widget’s area, and you get a neat little framed version of the image. If you’ve installed the widgets that come with FTP applications such as Transmit, drag and drop files into the widget to upload them. Have the excellent Wikipedia widget installed? Drag and drop text onto it to see what Wikipedia has to say about the dropped text.

You can make this process even more seamless with a multi-button mouse—just assign one of the buttons to activate Dashboard via the Dashboard & Exposé System Preferences panel (or by using your mouse’s control software to assign F12 to a button). Now you can drag, click a mouse button, and drop onto the desired Dashboard widget. If you lack a multi-button mouse, you can gain similar ease-of-use by creating an Active Screen Corner for Dashboard in the Dashboard & Exposé System Preferences panel. With a hot corner assigned, just drag your selection to that corner, and Dashboard will activate.

Not everyone uses drag-and-drop routinely, but for those who do, using it with Dashboard can make your interaction with widgets that much simpler.

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