Go To Folder

Tuesday, November 25th, 2003 @ 6:23 pm | Mac

Whadda ya know. It turns out the file path field in the Open/Save panel isn’t missing in action. There’s just no visible way to access it.

However, it turns out Command-Shift-G will display a Go To Folder panel that behaves exactly like the dialog in the Finder, including support for auto-complete.

It looks like there are two different implementations of this panel for Carbon and Cocoa apps. For Carbon apps like BBEdit and iTunes, the panel is implemented as a modal dialog. For Cocoa apps like Safari and Super Get Info, the panel is implemented as a sheet. I don’t know why this difference exists, but the functionality appears to be the same in either case.

When you use the Go To Folder functionality in browser view, it acts like one of the icons in the sidebar — the contents of the last path component are displayed in the left-most browser column and you cannot scroll the browser to the right. Personally, I don’t like that implementation, but then again I prefer to use the list view.

Update: As Chris Hanson points out, the difference between the Go To Folder sheet and the modal dialog isn’t just a Carbon/Cocoa thing — my testing method wasn’t entirely scientific. I looked mostly at the Open dialogs in iTunes, BBEdit, Mailsmith, Super Get Info, and Safari.

These Open panels were all displayed as dialogs, which makes sense — since you’re opening a file, the dialog shouldn’t be associated with an existing window. For the Open panels, the Carbon applications displayed the Go To Folder panel as modal dialog. The Cocoa applications displayed the Go To Folder panel as a sheet.

For Save panels, things are a little different. The two Cocoa applications displayed their save panels as sheets. In these cases, the Go To Folder panel was displayed as a modal dialog. This makes sense, since a sheet should not originate from another sheet.

The three Carbon applications displayed their Save panels as modal dialogs. Like the Open panels in the same applications, the Go To Folder panel was displayed in a modal dialog.

Now, I realize my testing methods leave much to be desired. The sample size of test applications is quite small. I wasn’t able to find any Cocoa applications that displayed a Save panel as modal dialog (though I didn’t look particularly hard).

The last thing I want is to start a Cocoa-Carbon fight — as I’ve written, I think it’s a foolish argument. I’m just curious why the Open modal dialogs in the Carbon applications I tried display the Go To Folder panel as a modal dialog while the Open modal dialogs in the Cocoa application I tried display it as a sheet.

6 Responses to “Go To Folder”

  1. Chris Hanson Says:

    Actually, there’s only one implementation of the standard Open panel and one implementation of the standard Save panel. Each implementation can be used as either a sheet or as a modal dialog, depending on the needs of the application. It’s not a Carbon vs. Cocoa thing.

    Essentially, it requires little work to bring up an application-modal dialog in either Carbon or Cocoa. The reason is that it blocks your entire application while it’s up. However, a sheet is document-modal, which means while it’s up you have to be able to handle actions across the rest of your application’s human interface too. Some applications are easier to support this in than others.

    Oh, for a sheet you also have to specify which window you want it attached to. That’s not always reasonable, particularly in pro-level applications (Final Cut Pro for example) that may open a number of different windows for any open “document” where none of them are really “the document.”

  2. Michael McCracken Says:

    Another way to get the path dialog/sheet to show up: start typing the path. If you type the characters ‘/’ or ‘~’, it guesses you want to type a path and throws up that path field.

    I tried that on pure blind hope, and it worked just like I wanted. Don’t you love Apple?

  3. Eric Blair Says:

    Michael, my love for Apple varies on a day-to-day basis. Sometime, hour-to-hour even 🙂

    I have to say that’s an interesting decision on Apple’s part. I’m not sure how I feel about a single key press triggering the opening of a panel while a text field has focus. Granted, most people aren’t going to type a ‘~’ or ‘/’ as the first character in their file name, but I don’t like the precedent.

  4. Justin Williams Says:

    You sure about safari using a sheet? I get the modal dialog on every app I have tested this on (except mail).

    neat feature though. Muchas gracias for pointing it out.

  5. Eric Blair Says:


    I’m seeing a sheet in the open panel (where the open panel is a modal dialog). I’m seeing a model dialog in the save panel (where the save panel is a sheet attached to the associated window).

  6. Michael Tsai's Weblog Says:

    Open and Save in Panther

    Eric Blair mentions that there’s a hidden Go To Folder command in Panther’s file choosing dialogs. It’s activated with Command-Shift-G, just like in the Finder. This came in handy a few weeks ago when I was explaining to a customer h…