Add more folders to the Media Browser

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One of the features of iWork applications—and certain applications in OS X 10.5—is an integrated Media Browser. In Pages, Numbers, or Keynote, the browser appears when you click the Media button in the toolbar (or use View -> Show Media Browser if you prefer). In certain media-aware applications (Safari or TextEdit, for example) in OS X 10.5, the browser appears in the Media section of the sidebar when you use File -> Open command.

What you see in the Media Browser depends on which program you’re using, and what media capabilities it has. In the iWork applications, the Media Browser has three tabs—Audio, Photos, and Movies—and each tab is split into an upper file browser area and a lower preview area. In non-iWork applications, you may not have all these choices available. In Safari, for instance, the Media section of the sidebar shows only Photos, while TextEdit’s browser shows all three media types.

But you may very well know all of this—the Media Browser isn’t a deeply-hidden feature of the OS or its applications. What you may not know, however, is that you can add your own folders to the list of locations show in the Media Browser. Not only can you add your own folders, but you can add different folders for Audio, Photos, and Movies, and the added folders are program-specific.

Adding folders to the Media Browser is as easy as drag-and-drop, with one minor difficulty for the iWork applications. Ignoring iWork for now, here’s how you’d add a folder to the Media Browser in something like Safari or TextEdit. Select File -> Open in the chosen application, then click on the relevant entry in the Media portion of the sidebar to display the Media Browser. Switch to the Finder, and navigate to the folder containing the folder you’d like to add to the Media Browser. Position the Finder window such that you can see both the target folder and the Media Browser, then just drag the target folder into the top portion of the Media Browser window. When the cursor changes to the green plus sign, drop the dragged folder.

Switch back to the Media Browser, and scroll to the bottom of the file list portion of the window. You’ll find a new entry titled Folders; click the triangle to the left of Folders, and this folder will open, showing the folder you dragged and dropped:


You can add as many folders as you like, and they’ll all show up in the new Folders folder. As noted earlier, folders you add are unique to each program, and unique to each category of media.

For iWork applications, the process is basically the same, except for the difficulty I mentioned earlier. The difficulty is caused by the fact that the Media Browser in iWork applications is a floating palette, and it vanishes when you switch to the Finder. So how can you add a folder to something you can’t see? The answer is simple, if not obvious. First, in your iWork program, make sure the tab of the Media Browser that you’d like to modify is selected, then switch to the Finder. Find the folder you’d like to add, and start dragging it. Now press Command-Tab—while still dragging the folder—and switch to your iWork application. When the iWork program becomes active, your floating palettes will show up, and you can then drop the dragged folder into the Media Browser. (You can do the same thing using Exposé instead of Command-Tab, if you prefer.)

To remove folders you’ve added, Control-click on the folder in the Media Browser and select Remove Folder from the pop-up menu. You can only remove top-level folders, not folders within folders, in this manner. To get rid of all the folders you’ve added, Control-click on the Folders folder, and select Remove Folders from the pop-up menu.

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