I need stacks!

Cannot wait for Leopard. I need stacks. My desktop is a mess and when i try to sort things into folders, it ends up there anyway.

How are your desktops? A utter mess or tidy little (or large) minimalistic screens? If you had a mess and found out a system to actually get it nice and clean, please let me know!

Mine is reasonably clear, but then, I use Overflow, which already provides some of the functionality that Stacks promises. You can find it (and trial it) at http://www.stuntsoftware.com.


I put everything (saved webpages, text files, whatever) on the desktop first and put it somewhere else later.

Basic principle is: Whenever I detect something that belongs together or is similar to each other, I create a folder and collect it there. Then what to do with the folder? If it has something to do with things I try to accomplish, it goes into the folder “Projects”. If it is information that I might need or find useful later, it goes into a huge folder named “InfoArchive”, subdivided by all topics I ever found interesting. (I try to put it in a place that makes sense, although I will rely on Spotlight later to find everything again.) If I want to access stored infos from the archive in a project, I create an alias of the archive folder in the folder of the project.

If it concerns “stuff” - things I have to do, but wouldn’t if not urged (paying taxes, etc.) - it goes into a folder “Org”. There I have also a folder “Letters”, where I collect every letter I write (subdivisions have proven to be rather counterproductive); a folder “Money”, a folder “Household”, a folder “Family”, a folder “Travels”.

That’s it. The rest is details.

I have no idea what to do with stacks what I cannot do already with folders in the right part of the dock. (They don’t look so pretty, yes.) If you do not have a underlying system of how to arrange things, the stacks will only be another place for clutter. Clutter is things without a system, but it’s not the operating system that can provide this; it is me who has to provide it. So, in the moment I am rather sceptical towards Leopard. I am afraid it might be the Mac version of Vista - the victory of glitter effects over usefulness… :frowning:

One thing that I can’t stand is a messy desktop. It just breaks my day. Therefore I have two folders on the desktop where I store everything:

  • Downloads on the folder called (eh) ‘Downloads’. My browser has its downloads landing there.

  • Another one where I put everything else before the ultimate destination folder. I call this one ‘Drop Zone’. I organize it once a week or so (many things from ‘Downloads’ come here after a first check; others go to garbage after installing, others still go directly to garbage).

Further than that I use an app launcher. Until a few weeks ago I was using Quicksilver, but recently I “discovered” LaunchBar, which has an easier learning curve, is faster and more stable. It “cleans” my dock and substitutes Spotlight perfectly.

Another application that I’m now testing and that I’m liking a lot (allowing me to easily select the folder of destiny when I’m saving files, either from the Internet or internal) is Default Folder.

This system is working for me, but it may not be to everyone. If you find very difficult to do something like this, try Hazel. Some people swear by it and its purpose is exactly that: organizing a messy system.

Good luck. :slight_smile:

– MJ

PS. You can see my desktop here. (You can click the image to see it bigger.)

Ethan S. inspired me to clean up my file workflow back when he published a series of articles on cleaning up the desktop. I’ve actually never had a problem with a “messy desktop,” in fact many times I’ve just turned the desktop off entirely. No icons, no disks, nothing. However (!) I did have an unruly ‘temp’ folder which had ancient junk sitting in there for years, and a ‘Downloads’ folder inside that folder which was equally messy. So, even though I didn’t have a desktop problem, I still had a mess.

I pretty much just copied ES’ method verbatim for a while. I have an Inbox, an Outbox, and a Pending folder on my desktop. The aforementioned Hazel keeps these ruthlessly clean. If a file sits in Outbox for more than three hours, it goes straight to the trash. Outbox is strictly for stuff that I save out of programs that I’ll immediately be sending/uploading/whatever. I have some uploads automated with Hazel+Yummy FTP based on file naming conventions. For example, if I name a ZIP file a certain way into Outbox, it automatically gets uploaded to the right FTP server and then moved to the Trash. Outbox is strictly for stuff leaving the computer that is fixated in a format I don’t need to save. Inbox is a bit more lenient. Things can hang about there for a week before they get axed. Inbox is, obviously, where all programs are set to download. The advantage of using a folder on the Desktop, instead of the Desktop, is that it is easier to wipe it. If you know the entire Inbox has been handled, you can just Cmd-A and Cmd-Delete. Most often, this is not possible on the Desktop, so you have to sit around picking at icons before you can delete.

Pending is strictly for aliases to projects and files that I am currently working on. “Currently,” for me means, I’ve touched it within the past month and intend to return to it… or I need to do it as soon as possible. The actual files and projects are kept in a folder called “Working” in my home directory. The reason for having a Pending directory separate from a Working directory is that Working means anything that isn’t done. This could mean projects which take a year to complete. Using aliases instead of actual files means I never have to remember what went where. This is where I deviated a bit from ES’ method, as I wanted to have a very clear line between projects that I’ll (most likely) never touch again, save for reference, and projects that I’m still working on—but I’m working on a lot of stuff—and I don’t want to see it all of the time. Hence, Pending->Working->Archive, the last of which is another folder in the home directory. Like Ethan, I strongly dislike how applications hijack the Documents folder, so I just abandoned it.

I’m with MJ on LaunchBar. I was a QuickSilver user for years until I found LaunchBar. It just does things in a much less convoluted manner, in my opinion. Especially the latest version. You can select files in the Finder, press Cmd-Spacebar and hold the spacebar down for just a second longer and those files will automatically be selected by LB. You can start typing a shortcut immediately and it will handles the files through the shortcut. If it is a location, you can quickly move/copy the files there, if it is an application, it will try to load the files in the app. It has a lot of little touches like that that you really have to read the documentation to discover.

Items in the Trash get automatically deleted after a week, by Hazel. Consequently, I don’t even open up or clean out Outbox and Trash that much. It is all handled for me.

So, my old working system was basically two folders. One where files came in “Downloads,” and then another that was basically a combination of Pending, Working, and Outbox. Separating this single “temp” folder out into three folders and structuring things a bit more seemed like it would be more work than it was worth, but I’ve been very happy with the transition. Accessing these folders is second nature (and all hooked up to LaunchBar and Hazel), and they stay clean because they are maintained by the computer (and myself) depending on their purpose, where a combined purpose folder will nearly always have clutter in it.

So, I don’t know if I’ll actually need Stacks. It depends on how well they can be integrated with other applications. If Hazel can manipulate them, and I can get at their contents with LaunchBar, then I wouldn’t mind having them in the Dock…maybe. I don’t really use the Dock anymore. LB is enough for me.

Just for the record…

Cmd-Esc in QS, keep held down to auto-launch :smiley:

Cmd-Esc as above > spacebar > type shortcut in QS.

You can actually set the defaults in QS to do whatever you want in this scenario; move, copy, open, force open, copy to clipboard, etc.

Exactly like QS, then - as this post makes clear :wink:

Right, the question has never been whether or not QuickSilver can match, feature for feature, LaunchBar—especially with its modular interface. The question is how easy it is to get at the feature. Note the extra spacebar tap here, the tab there, the setting of defaults, to matching through a list of actions to Get Info, when just Cmd-I gets info in LB. I was always sceptical of the people that said LB was more “efficient,” or “faster,” in the long run. I even gave it a cursory try a few times. Didn’t click until I used it non-stop for about two weeks. So, if QS does some thing that LB does not do, that you absolutely really cannot live without, then QS is fine, but if you only need a subset of what QS can do, my experience has been that LB can reach that entire sub-set way more efficiently and rapidly, once you make the mental adjustments.

To simplify: LB is usually Search+Execute, where search involves some typing of an abbreviation or partial of the target, and execute is generally some Mac familiar key stroke, like Cmd-C to copy the path of the file to the clipboard. QuickSilver is generally more like Search+[tab]+FunctionSearch+[enter], and that is assuming you have your defaults set up right, and your action lists maintained the way you want, and that the function you want to do is not buried in a third [tab]+functionList.

QS is great, and LB is only a part of what QS fully is. I just found that in the end I didn’t really need all that other stuff, and all that other stuff was making the things I need too complicated to execute. I’m sure there is some way to spend an hour to two combing through configurations and optimising with plug-ins and so on. But frankly, I don’t want to spend that much time on a launcher. :slight_smile: I never think about LaunchBar. It is completely and utterly transparent. QuickSilver was all begging for attention to tweak this or customise that.

To each their own, and all that. :slight_smile:

I only mentioned changing the defaults because it allows you to do more if you want to. If you don’t change the defaults, it’s just move/copy or launch, same as LB.

Oh, absolutely. I just find that I do need a lot of what QS offers, such as triggers and proxies, and that I don’t even really think about it. (The get info/copy shortcuts thing, by the way, is ‘same but different’ - just typing tab-I in QS will do a Get Info, which isn’t really any quicker than typing Cmd-I.)

Plus I just can’t resist poking in when someone says QS can’t do something, because short of making coffee it normally can :wink:

And, of course, QS is free - and about to go open-source. Those are big pluses in my book.

Don’t use the desktop. I use Finder windows, have needed folders in the left panel for quick entry, everythings stays very, very organized. I find the desktop to be less efficient than Finder windows. It looks like Leopard will even be more effective for the way I organize my computer. I also do a computer clean-up at least once a week, going through my downloads folder, anything that ends up on the desktop. Just keeping things up-to-date and organized. I can’t stand clutter on my computer, so I do tend to maintain it well.


How funny! My desktop (literal) is a mess. My desktop (virtual) is always clean - three HD icons, one text file I have to access a lot, and the occasional icon for a networked drive. That’s it.

All other files get put into folders. (This is, of course, because I can have all my app icons in the dock. Without the dock, I’d have (too) many oft-used app icons on my desktop, too.)

I have no idea where I picked up the habit, but it’s of long standing. A few months back I downloaded Journlr and actually screeched when I saw it had put two folders on my desktop without asking me! :laughing: Yeah, I laughed at myself later, but I was, shall we say, a bit annoyed. :wink:

Ha! This IS funny, because I’m exactly the same way. My physical desktop is always careening on the edge of chaos (or over the edge as it were), but my computer is ultra-organized. And I have the same reaction if anything messes up my desktop without my knowledge. Though I don’t think I actually screech–it’s more of an inner scream of outrage than outer! :slight_smile:


Like Alexandria, I’m kind of obsessive about keeping my desktop, virtual or otherwise, tidy; seeing a lot of unsorted files makes me nervous and hard for me to focus on writing. (In fact, even seeing my wife’s unruly desktops has been known to provoke me into spontaneous tidy up frenzies, resulting in a permanent restraining order requiring me to stay at least three feet from them unless she asks me to help. I understand there are specialists who can help me with this sort of thing.)

I’ve also read that having a lot of files on the OSX desktop can slow your Mac down – can anyone confirm this?

As to how I keep it neat… I basically try to sort everything as soon as it comes in, saving to the appropriate folder or Scrivener project, even if it’s only a holding cell like the appropriate Scriv Research folder or my “Add to book notes” file. I don’t use GTD or any other organized task system, but I’ve just found that dealing with info as much as possible when it comes in makes it seem more manageable than facing a huge pile of unfiled stuff. (Once I accumulated several dozen receipts, totalling several thousand dollars worth of reimbursements from a magazine assignment, and the envelope containing them was so dispiritingly thick that I put off totaling it up and sending it off for weeks, costing me a few bucks in interest, no doubt.)

This is why I keep bugging Keith to add a function to Scrivener that lets you immediately name and save a clipped item directly to the appropriate folder, rather than just creating a generic “Clipping dd/mm/yy,” which then has to be sorted later. Not that this mention constitutes another noodge or anything, of course.

The downloads folder on my desktop occasionally accumulates various dmg files and other stray items, but I generally clean it up every few days when I need to procrastinate from actual writing for a couple minutes longer than reading the latest Lit & Lat RSS feeds.

One thing that may help: the freeware SafariStand, which I use to preserve workspaces in the event of a Safari crash, has a “tidy by date for downloads” pref that automatically creates a dated folder for downloads. So instead of seeing some scattered files in your downloads folder, you see a collection of dated folders holding whatever was downloaded on those days. It makes cleaning up that folder a bit less intimidating.

Haha! It’s so funny to me when I see how not unique I am!!! My tidying up can definitely be procrastination or, more charitably, the opportunity to take a little more of a break than checking the L&L forum and making little entries like…ah…this one. Er, yeah, back to work…

I’m not going to list out every single thing you can do with a selected target, but suffice to say, it is quite a bit more than move, copy, or launch—and you don’t need to fiddle with a single default or enable any action sets to do them.

But, I never once said that QuickSilver cannot do something that LaunchBar can (let alone that it couldn’t do anything—and I posit that if you are clever and obsessive enough, you could get it to make cofee too), go back and read it again if you do not believe me. All I said was that I preferred the efficiency of LB. It is merely a matter of interface affinity and a manner of doing things. I’ve used both for years. My experience with QS: I had to use a lot more cognitive ability to do things, and I always felt like I had to type a lot to do things, especially things I don’t do often, such as Get Info. It isn’t just tab-i-enter when you rarely use it.

I had to think about QS all of the time. I never have to think about LB. Dandy that it works that way for you, but it doesn’t really change which is the best tool for me. And I’m perfectly fine putting up a little cash for something that works better. Especially when it is something that I use hundreds of times in typical busy day.

Totally with you on the LB v. Qs, AmberV.

I was a hard defender of Qs. I actually still like it at all, but the easiness and fastness of LB convinced me. Besides, unlike Qs, LB never crashed on me. (Not that Qs crashed all the time… just once per day or so.)

However, I never say never. :wink: I’m curious to see what will happen with Qs going Open Source, since its development has been frozen for quite some time.

My advise: try and see which tea pleases you the best.

I totally second the LB vs QS, AmberV.

I had been using LB for a long time before QS came about, and while I think it’s a great app, and tried it many times at length (I love freeware), it always remained always buggier, slower, took more memory, took more CPU, and was worse at guessing & learning my abbreviations.

On QuickSilver:
Coming from linux, I used to use the Terminal constantly to perform menial tasks on my Mac. It’s just my most comfortable environment. But after diving headfirst into QuickSilver I’m using the Terminal less and less, and finding ways to reconfigure my command-line habits into QuickSilver behaviors.

[quote=“43Folders: [43folders.com/2005/04/02/qui … ized-well/]
Victor Says:
April 4th, 2005 at 6:34
“After an adaptation period, Quicksilver becomes an extension of yourself; the process fades away leaving only the results.â€

Assuming you mean that the default action depends on what you’ve selected, then again, it’s exactly the same for QS. I wasn’t intending to list every possible action either :wink: What I’m pointing out is that even for a file where the default is normally, say, ‘launch’, you can change the default - if you want - to something else.

You did heavily imply it, though, when you mentioned the cmd-spacebar holding trick to activate selected items. And I know a lot of QS users simply don’t know that feature exists in QS (despite being in the documentation, and having been around for ages - hmmm, I wonder what other app that sounds like? :wink: ). If you knew about it, it would seem a strange thing to use when comparing LB to QS, so I assumed you didn’t.

Anyway, we’re falling down the Internet Nitpicking Rabbit Hole here, so let’s draw a veil. I have no stake in QS, so don’t really care whether someone uses it, LB, DragThing or whatever - like you, I would always advocate using whatever works for you. :slight_smile:

Thanks for all excellent replies and tips. I started having a inbox, work in progress, outgoing box some months ago. But I ended up deleting them couse it bugged me too much that I couldn’t find any good icons for them. :smiley: I actually hate the look of os x default folder. But maybe I will give this a second try…

As for QS LB I use QS. Do not know why really, but I started using it and of course it sometimes craches, or have problems understanding me, but I found the process of getting into LB quite annoying. The thing launchers is that to start using them you need a week or two where your work is slowed down by them. But I actually liked launch bar, is there any nice tutorial on using it?

And, to get into the whole virtual desktop vs real desktop, I am a quite zealous when it comes to organizing my computer. But somehow I end up with all these files anyway. My real desktop is usually a mess, but right now it is actually very tidy. But that could be couse we just finished the work on our new room, new wallpaper och floor, and last night moved in the desk and computer. Haven’t had the time to make a mess yet.


All “stacks” in Leopard has done is add animation to an already existing feature - you can already put any folder you like in the dock and open it with a right click / ctrl click / two finger trackpad click.

I have one for (aliases of) all the occasionally used apps that I don’t want cluttering up my dock, and one for a current project I’m working on. When you right click it opens a vertical column of the contents, with subfolders and so on. There’s nothing stopping you putting the downloads folder itself in the dock as Stacks is claimed to revolutionarily do.

For some reason Smart Folders won’t show you their contents. You can add one, but you’ll have to just ‘single click’ it and it’ll then open a window. Hopefully this will change for Leopard.