Mac vs. Windows: The cut-n'-paste divide

With Mac user ranks swelling with switchers from Windows, often misunderstandings crop up about each system's implementation of a user interface. One of the sorest points surrounds a fundamental feature that everyone might believe was settled years ago: cut-and-paste. But the two systems see this function very differently. Now, a developer offers switchers a way to keep using their old, bad cut-and-paste Windows habits.

With Mac user ranks swelling with switchers from Windows, often misunderstandings crop up about each system's implementation of a user interface. One of the sorest points surrounds a fundamental feature that everyone might believe was settled years ago: cut-and-paste. But the two systems see this function very differently. Now, a developer offers switchers a way to keep using their old, bad cut-and-paste Windows habits.

Here's the basic problem: the Mac is a graphical interface and promotes the concept of drag-and-drop to move files around the interface. Users drag items from one "container" to another with either a copy or move operation. The Finder changes the cursor icon to reflect the status of the copy/more, it even offers users spring-loaded folders that will automatically open when the user drags an item over it. Drag-and-drop doesn't use the Clipboard, which is the fundamental concept with the cut-and-paste operation used in documents.

Instead, Windows is all about cut and paste. It works for text in a document and with files and folders in the desktop.

For example, on the X vs. XP contest page, the writer dings the Mac because it doesn't support selecting a piece of text and then pasting it onto the desktop. This is true, of course, but it ignores the Mac way of doing this task, which is to drag text out of a document onto the desktop. This action creates a Clipping file, a stored state of the Clipboard.

Notice that the Windows user can't imagine the idea of dragging something over to Desktop. Windows users don't interact the same way with the graphical interface and can't grok the fundamental difference between Mac and Windows implementations. To a Windows user, cut and paste are the "natural" functions, not drag and drop.

Enter Kapeli's moveAddict, a Snow Leopard-only application that provides  Windows cut-and-paste file/folder capability to Mac OS X. The $4.99 app  uses the Mac-standard Cmd-x/Cmd-v keyboard shortcuts. Developer Bogdan Popescu says that the original data remains untouched until the move is registered by the Finder.

Extras: Merge folders. When moveAddict detects that you are trying to replace a folder, it lets you choose whether you want to completely replace the folder or merge the two. Familiar keyboard shortcuts. You can use ?-X and ?-V as your shortcuts or you can choose your own. No hacks. moveAddict doesn’t modify the Finder or any System file in any way. It’s just a regular application which you can uninstall by deleting it. Easy to configure. The moment you run moveAddict, you can start cutting and pasting files. However, if you’d like to change something, you can do it in the preferences.

Fine. Be that way. But switchers, please consider dragging files around. Try it, you'll like it - a real graphical interface.

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