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Tuesday, February 13, 2007  

Browser Shortcut Confusion

In the comments on yesterday's post, someone mentioned that option-clicking a disclosure triangle in the tool browser doesn't seem to work as he had expected. So let me take a break from user tools to explain how this works.

I'll begin by how it doesn't work. If you use the List view in the Finder, and you option-click the disclosure triangle beside a folder, every subfolder within that folder will be completely expanded. This saves you having to drill down through a series of nested folders.

Option-clicking a disclosure triangle in the Tool browser is a little different. It's not designed to help you drill down through articles that you're browsing. Rather, it is designed to help you see the structure of the article you're viewing.

For example, let's say I do a search for the word "dove" in the Entry field of Anchor Bible Dictionary. I end up looking at a deeply nested subarticle entitled "8. The Dove." That's great, but I want to know where I am in the context of the entire Dictionary. I can tell by looking at the Go To Box in the bottom right corner of the window that I am in the article on "Art and Architecture," but I still don't know where this particular subarticle fits into the overall structure of the article.

If I simply click to open the Tool Browser, I see the alphabetical listing by which Anchor Bible Dictionary is arranged, and the "A" section is highlighted to indicate that the article I am viewing is in that section of the Tool.

If I click the disclosure triangle beside the "A," I get all the main articles that begin with that letter. I could then scroll the browser past hundreds of articles until I see that the "Art and Architecture" article is highlighted, then click that disclosure triangle to drill down further. As you can see, the manual process of drilling down to the current article would take me all day, just to see how the subarticle I am currently viewing fits into the structure of the larger article.

That's where our option-click trick comes in. Instead of drilling down through all those articles and subarticles, I can simply option-click the disclosure triangle to open the Browser, and it will automatically display all the articles and subarticles which contain the current article I'm viewing.

Note, however, that any subarticles beneath the current subarticle are not automatically expanded by this trick. For example, if there were a disclosure triangle beside "9. The Olive Branch," that triangle would remain closed, because it does not contain the article I am currently viewing in the display pane. In other words, the option-click expands all the levels of the browser up to the current article, but does not expand any of the levels beyond the current article.

I know by now this is probably as clear as mud, especially for those of you who weren't confused by how this works. Still, I hope it's helpful to some of you—especially those who weren't yet aware of this shortcut.

Yippee! Got it. Thanks David.

Thank you, David! I didn't know this handy shortcut. I always did it manually... (and thanks for mentioning Finder too. It's really useful tip also for the Finder!).

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