The Book of Words (2.3)

FinderPop is a Universal Preference pane that extends OS X's contextual menus using a FinderPop Items folder much as the Apple Menu Items folder used to do for the Apple menu. It has other features too:

Also check out the online FinderPop Support Forum.

Mini Table Of Contents:
FinderPop Basics ; Invoking FinderPop ; Navigating FinderPop Menus ; FinderPop's Info Window ; Hints & Tips ; FAQ me! ; Release Notes ;

The Basics

If the System Preferences application is running, quit it. Strange things can happen otherwise.
Double-click the FinderPop.prefpane icon. System Preferences will open and ask if you want to install FinderPop for all users or just you. Choose, and MacOS X will install the Preference Pane.

If you have an Intel Mac or you're running 10.5 or later, FinderPop will ask you for the admin password in order to set certain permissions on some FinderPop files. This is only done once at installation time.

Open the FinderPop preference pane. Click on the Show FinderPop Items Folder button in the Items sub-panel. Add aliases to your favourite applications, folders, documents, and whatnots to that folder. Now, every time you control-click, you'll get a few more options...
To the right is my FinderPop Items folder and the corresponding FinderPop menu.

Simply put, FinderPop will try to open whatever it is you select from any of its menus. If there is a Finder selection and you've chosen an application from the FinderPop menu, FP will ask the app you chose from the menu to open the Finder selection. For example: you want the ability to Stuff the Finder Selection? Add an alias to "DropStuff" to the "FinderPop Items Folder", select your files in the Finder, Control-click on the last file in your selection, choose "DropStuff" from the resulting FinderPop submenu, and Bob's your mother's brother.

Items generally appear in FinderPop Menus in alphabetical order. You can control this ordering process by inserting an ordering prefix before the item's name in the Finder. This ordering prefix consists of three characters at the start of an item's name, where the third character is a right parenthesis ')' and neither of the first two characters is a left parenthesis. This prefix text will not appear in the menu.

Note that you can choose among various standard orderings in the "Sort Items in FP Menus" popup in the Appearance tab: for example, order by modification date, order alphabetically, or an ordering where applications appear first, then folders, then other documents (with alphabetic ordering in each of those sub-groups.) Note also that this setting overrides any sort order you may have specified with the ordering prefixes mentioned above.
Sort order can also be specified on a per-directory basis by means of a .fp-info file in that directory. See below for details.

Any item inside the FinderPop Items Folder whose name ends in '-***' (that's minus-star-star-star) is considered to be a menu dividing line, following the convention set by James Walker's OtherMenu. This also happens for items ending in '----' (minus-minus-minus-minus.)


Extending the OtherMenu convention somewhat, any folder -- or alias to one -- whose name ends in '-!!X' (minus-pling-pling-capital-ecks) will not be expanded (i.e., there will be no submenu hanging off it.) The name displayed in the menu will not have the '-!!X' suffix, so the FinderPop menu is aesthetically pleasing (even if, like so much else, the underlying organisation isn't.) If the folder's name ends in '-!!x' (minus-pling-pling-lowercase-ecks) then, in addition to not being expanded, no folder icon will appear. Back in the days when I was receptive to all sorts of mad ideas for FinderPop, I put that no-icon thing in for someone who claimed that FinderPop was "fundamentally flawed" without it.

Any item ending in '-!!a' will have a submenu with all the apps under the Applications folder (ie, including those in the Utilties folder.) Note that the menu item takes its name from this item - so if your item is 'Every App-!!a', then the menu item will be Every App and will have the special 'all-apps' submenu hanging off it. The item itself can be a file, folder, or alias; if its name ends in '-!!a', FinderPop always displays this special all-apps menu, ignoring any contents if the item was a folder.

Any item ending in '-!!d' will have a Desktop submenu just like the Desktop submenu you get if you check the Add Desktop Submenu in the FinderPop prefPane. Doing it like this means you can place your Desktop submenu where-ever you want in the FinderPop hierarchy rather than at a fixed location using the checkbox.

Similarly, any item ending in '-!!p' will have a Processes submenu hanging off it. For example, having an item named 'Running-!!p' will result in a menu item named Running whose submenu lists the currently running apps. As usual with the FinderPop Process menu, if you hold down Control when mousing into the menu, it will include background-only processes.

Any item ending in '-!!n' will have a submenu listing all installed Preference Panes hanging off it. For example, having an item named 'Prefs-!!n' will result in a FinderPop menu item named Prefs whose submenu lists all installed preference panes.

Items ending in 'crtr-!!!': if you know the 4-character creator code of an app, it is possible to customise the FinderPop menu so certain items appear if you're popping up a contextual menu or clicking-in-unused-menubar in that app or not. For example, the 4-character code for the Finder is 'fndr', and the 4-char code for GraphicConverter is 'GKON'. Items whose names end in ''GKON-!!!' will appear in FinderPop menus only if GraphicConverter is the current app. Similarly, items ending in '!GKON-!!!' (note the extra initial !) will appear in FinderPop only if GraphicConverter is not the current app.
You can tell the 4-char code of an app using FinderPop by highlighting the app in a FinderPop menu and pressing Command and Option - the info is in the line labelled 'Type/Crtr' - the type for apps is normally 'APPL' and the unique, per-application 4-character creator code is the next item.
There's a downside to this - not all apps come with a 4-character creator code. Maybe in a future version we can use '' for example.
OK, we lied. The real creator code for the Finder is 'MACS' but that creator code is used for other System Software items too, so for the Finder, FinderPop uses 'fndr'.

This app-specific feature can be combined with the new '-!!i' "inline-this-folder" feature. For example: A folder called 'InlineTest ttxt-!!!-!!i' would have its contents inlined into the FinderPop menu only if TextEdit was the frontmost app. If TextEdit is not the frontmost app, the folder contributes no items to the FinderPop menu. (As you've probably figured out, the 4-character creator code of TextEdit it 'ttxt'.)

Items ending in '-!!f' will appear in FinderPop menus only if there is an item selected in the Finder. Items ending in '-!!m' appear only if you're clicking an unused part of the menubar. For example, you could place an alias to FinderPop Items inside the FinderPop Items folder itself, and name it 'FinderPop Items -!!f' - this means the item would appear only if you control-clicked a file/folder in the Finder, allowing you to move/copy/alias the item directly into the FinderPop Items folder.

The opposite of the above - an item whose name ends in '-!!N' will appear in FinderPop menus only when you control-click a blank portion of a Finder window or the Desktop, ie, there being no Finder selection. (The 'N' standing for "No Selection" -- and note that it must be a Capital 'N'.)

Items ending in '-!!t' will appear in FinderPop menus only if there was a textual contextual menu selection passed to FinderPop. Generally this happens only with Carbon apps such as Microsoft Word. See the FinderPopExtras folder for some examples of what FinderPop can do with this.

Note that the FinderPop '-!!_' item modifiers are cumulative. For example, a folder named 'InlinedInMbar-!!i-!!m' inside your FinderPop Items folder will have its contents inlined into the FinderPop menu only if you control-clicked in the menubar. Any other method of invoking FinderPop will result in the folder's contents being skipped. Likewise, a folder named 'InlinedWithFinderSel-!!f-!!i' will have its contents inlined into the FinderPop menu only if there was a Finder selection parameter to the _ContextualMenuSelect system call.

We freely admit that that the user interface for this really is fundamentally flawed, but until we have the time to improve this, I'm afraid we're stuck with it. Hey, you only have to do it once!

The FinderPop Preference pane's options should be fairly self-explanatory. :-) Help tags are available on most items (just hover the mouse over the item to see the help text.)

Invoking FinderPop

Navigating the FinderPop Menus

As usual with menus in OS X, typing a character will select the first menu item beginning with the character typed, which can save quite a bit of mousing.
Be aware that the OS X Menu Manager appears to do some very time-consuming processing if you are in a deep hierarchy and press any non-modifier key. It is not unusual to get a beachball for a few seconds, but don't worry, the menu manager will eventually come back to life. It appears to be scanning all menu items for items beginning with the character you pressed. For this reason, the use of Cmd-Option-Shift modifier keys is preferred when invoking the various FinderPop features described below. Note: this bug appears to have been fixed in Leopard!

Additionally, by pressing various modifier keys (Control, Command, Option and Shift) while traversing FinderPop menus, you can modify FinderPop's actions. The list below outlines the facilities available if there is no Finder selection while you're traversing any FinderPop-related submenu. You should notice the mouse pointer changing as indicated.

If there is a Finder selection, FinderPop automatically changes the cursor if it's over a menu item representing a folder while traversing a FinderPop related menu. The cursor will change to a to signify that the Finder selection will be copied to whatever directory you select. Note that if you do select a folder in this case, FinderPop will always ask for confirmation:


(Generally, pressing the initial letter of a button has the same effect as pressing the button, thus pressing the m key corresponds to a click on the Move button.) Press 'f' to choose a different destination folder.

If you are copying or moving an item to a folder in which there is already an item with the same name, FinderPop will ask for confirmation of overwriting. If you choose not to overwrite, the entire copy/move is not done: i.e., nothing is copied or moved.

The cursor will revert to the normal arrow cursor if copying would be impossible (for example, if the destination disk is write-protected, or if you were attempting to move a folder into one of its offspring.) If you manually force another cursor by pressing Command/Option/Shift/Control etc., then of course that forced cursor takes precedence.

All these modifier key chords are good piano practice, if nothing else.

Hints & Tips (or: "You know much that is hidden, O Tim.")

FAQ me!

Release Notes

Err, that's it for now. More words coming soon!
Last modified by turly, Tuesday 9-March-2010.
Made with vim, touched up with Bare Bones Software's fine TextWrangler!