Usage tips for the Leopard media browser

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One of OS X 10.5’s new features is a media browser, making your photos, music, and movies available to most any application that can use them. To see the media browser, just select File -> Open in any media-enabled application (your web browser, TextEdit, Word, etc.). In the sidebar of the Open dialog box, scroll down to the bottom, where you’ll find the Media section. Click on Music, Photos, or Movies in that section, and the media browser will appear.

While it looks fairly self-explanatory, the media browser does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve. First, as I explained in my Finder tips video from last December, you can change the view mode between icon and list view (in Music, Photos, and Movies) by Control-clicking on an empty area of the media browser. When you do, a contextual menu will appear, giving you the choice between list or icon view modes. When in list view, the contextual menu gains a new Show Columns entry; select it, and a sub-menu appears that lets you specify which columns are visible. If you’d like more detail on how this works, it’s all there in the above-linked video.

The media browser’s other trick is somewhat like Quick Look in the Finder. With an item selected in the media browser—this works for music, photos, and movies—press the Space Bar. If you’ve chosen a music file, it will start playing; photos will zoom to fill the media browser’s display area; and movies will start playing. Press the Space Bar again to stop the preview. With both photos and movies, you can use the Left and Right Arrow keys to move from one photo or movie to the next. If you’re listening to a song, the Up and Down Arrow keys will move between songs, but you’ll have to press the Space Bar twice to stop and restart the preview.

If you haven’t used the media browser yet, it’s a nice addition to the operating system. You may not need it every day, but if you’re trying to get some piece of media from one app to another in OS X, it’s one of the easiest ways to get the job done.

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