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DesktopShelves offers fun designs and some smart touches to keep scads of files accessible in a small space.
Accessing files on the Mac has been a work in progress since the beginning of OS X. For proof, just look at the evolution of Finder windows and the Dock. Falling somewhere between those familiar fixtures, DesktopShelves offers a new way to help keep digital clutter at bay.
Shelves are Finder folders opened through the DesktopShelves menu bar item or its contextual menu command. They share the folder’s name and contents (even any Finder labels you’ve applied) but look just like shelves from the real world, holding Cover Flow–like icons instead of your dusty action figures. Mousing over items in a shelf displays their names and enlarged icon previews, and from there you can open files or launch apps, reveal an item in the Finder, activate Quick Look, and more. Shelf size and item spacing can be changed globally to let you cram in as much as possible or keep things roomy.
To add or remove items, just drag and drop—with some limitations. You can’t Option-drag Finder items to copy them to or from a shelf, and you can’t drag items into folders on a shelf the way you can with folders in the Dock. But you can drag snippets from open documents or web pages into shelves, creating new .txt or .rtf files in the process. These and other shelved files can be dragged into document windows to share their content with your applications. Like Finder windows, shelves can be dragged anywhere on the Desktop and appear across all Spaces, but they aren’t affected by Exposé or Mission Control. However, shelves can be hidden or brought to the foreground—even over full-screen apps—with customizable keyboard shortcuts.
While shelves lack some key Finder features, they’re not just eye candy. You can sort items by name, size, and creation or modification dates. Shelves can be made longer or shorter, hiding or revealing items as needed. Hidden items are noted by a handy range indicator that lets you know you’re seeing only a few items of a larger group, and a special button lets you access items outside the currently visible range with a click. Contextual menu and keyboard commands let you cycle through open shelves and drill through nested folders they contain, but since there’s no immediate visual indication of where you are on your Mac beyond a shelf’s name and its icons, deep navigation can get confusing.
The bottom line. DesktopShelves is more flexible than the Dock and takes up less room than Finder windows, making it a convenient way to access frequently used items. That said, you’ll return to the Finder to do much beyond moving or opening items, and this simplicity might be limiting for some users.
Mac OS 10.6.6 or higher
Simple, stylish way to keep folder contents handy. Useful sorting features.
Can’t copy to or from shelves. Folder navigation features are lacking.