The proxy icon is a secret but handy tool

The proxy icon is a secret but handy tool
Mac Tip #246/07-June-2006

This issue of the MacTips newsletter is dedicated to Harriette, our fox terrier, who went to sleep for the last time this morning at the age of 16.

You may not have noticed the small proxy icon in the title bar of all your documents. Open a document from almost any document-based application: Word or Excel, Tex-Edit Plus, an email message in Eudora (but not Apple’s, or an email message open in its own window in Entourage, a web page in Opera or OmniWeb (but not Safari or Firefox), Apple’s .md just try this out with any application and see what happens.

Let’s say you create a text document in Apple’s TextEdit and then save it. After it’s been saved you’ll see the Title Bar shows the name you saved it with and immediately to the left of that name is a small icon. That icon’s called a proxy icon, and it’s more than merely decorative — you can use it in various ways, as it stands in for the document.

The proxy icon on my miraz folder.

The proxy icon on my miraz folder.

Suppose you’d saved the document you just created in your Documents folder but needed to make an alias of it on your desktop for easy access. You could go to the Finder, locate the document, arrange your windows just so and then hold down the Command and Option keys while dragging the icon to the desktop. That would create an alias. Or experiment with just dragging the Proxy icon without holding down any special keys. In my experiments this created an alias too.

By using the proxy icon though, with the document open on screen, you simply click and hold for a moment on the proxy icon and then drag the proxy icon to the desktop while holding down the Command and Option keys. The trick is that initial pause while clicking on the proxy icon.

It gets better, though: as a web designer I often want to preview an open file in a web browser. I save the document and then drag the proxy icon right onto an open browser window. Or I drag the proxy icon onto the window for an FTP client such as Interarchy.

Try experimenting with that proxy item and please leave a message in the comments if you find something interesting.

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  1. James Harrison said:

    Tried the drag and drop onto desktop but it doesn’t appear to work – I click and hold and then pressing option-cmd keys try to drag but the mouse just moves the whole window… must be doing something wrong!

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      James, which app were you using when you did that? I just tested with TextEdit and it worked as described. Other apps will vary, depending on how they’re put together.

      For example, OmniOutliner does it just fine, as does BBEdit. I wouldn’t be at all surprised though if MS Word didn’t, for example.

  2. blackmacmac said:

    I like the trick. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Miraz Jordan said:

    Well, yes and no. The Command click thing actually applies to the Title in the Title Bar, and in most applications that includes the proxy icon. In Eudora though, and perhaps other applications, the proxy icon doesn’t respond to the Command click while the Title Bar does.

  4. Simon said:

    If you hold down the command button when clicking on the proxy, the document hierarchy is shown. Clicking on one of the folders in the list opens that folder.

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