Replacement of DragThing

I can’t remember what DT does with sounds; can you elaborate? JT removed the information about all the DT features.

Regarding Trash on Desktop, this should be easily replicated with a simple folder using a custom icon; attach a Folder Action to it to both move files from it to the real Trash and change its icon accordingly; opening it can trigger a daemon to open the Real Trash folder. It gets more complicated if you’ve got multiple volumes.

Please note this is different than using the simple symbolic link method, that also works, but doesn’t manage icon status.

From the DT Quick Start Guide:

“DragThing can also provide you with a Trash on your desktop, play sounds in response to actions like ejecting a CD, and a lot more besides.”

Oh, and DT lets you set your sound volume to “11”! IIRC, MacOS only lets you go as high as “10”.

I saw a Terminal command to use a Trash alias to put a folder on the desktop with a custom icon, but it would be a fixed icon, not the “Full” & “Empty” icons used by DT. Where can I get more info on how to use Folder Actions this way (I’ve never used Folder Actions before)?

Oh, my, I’d forgotten DT played all the old Star Trek/silly/crazy themed sounds. I guess it could still be fun if you’re not in a shared space.

Much of that could be replicated, but I’m not sure how big of a rabbit hole you want to go down.

Somewhere I probably still have my ‘Trash on Desktop’ project, but I haven’t played with it for at least a decade; most of us just got over – no offense – our unwillingness to stop clinging to legacy Mac OS features.

How much time are you willing to invest in keeping Trash on the Desktop? I don’t mean to be dismissive; I just am not sure how far you want to go, given your unfamiliarity with Folder Actions (been around since AppleScript began), and is now also essentially wrapped inside Automator. Automator already includes lots of tutorials, and there’s plenty of tutorials and downloadable actions already made; check out MacScripter and Apple Orchard, as well as the (now badly neglected) Apple Developer docs.

OS X gave us new level of control using LaunchDaemons, which can watch folders, files, disks, devices, etc., and trigger an action when a change is detected; this is one way to approach at least some of the functionality of DragThing, from sounds to dynamic Finder and System items. You can write them by hand by making simple plist files and placing them manually in the proper /Library/LaunchAgents or ~/Library/LaunchAgents folders, or you can use a helpful tool like Lingon X (or similar) to speed up this portion; then you have them trigger scripts or actions from there.

For example, you can replicate the basic function of a Trash target on the Desktop using the Symbolic Link method you discovered, or you can create a folder on the Desktop that, when items are added to it, simply move them to the Trash; you can further watch that folder so that when opened, it opens the actual Trash. The dynamic icons are the tricky bit; I had it working a decade ago for this and other visual-identifier projects, but I have no idea how changes to security and other APIs might have affected their reliability (given the utter neglect Apple generally gives the Mac, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just still work through negligence).

But it sure would suck to get all this working to find out that 10.15 ends up killing it, anyway. If I were you, I’d enjoy DragThing until it is killed, and then seek to replicate the parts you need; who knows, there might be enough of a rebel group who wants this that or the other thing, and it gets made for you.

Then again, sometimes little silly projects like this that solve a need we have for ourselves lead to a greater understanding of what is possible, and inspires you to solve other problems for yourself.

And, again, take a long, detailed look at tools like Keyboard Maestro and BetterTouchTool; ask some questions in their spectacularly good communities, and see if maybe you can get some of the things you want without reinventing the wheel.

If you have more questions, I’m happy to continue the conversation.

frederico wrote: “Regarding Trash on Desktop, this should be easily replicated with a simple folder using a custom icon; attach a Folder Action to it…It gets more complicated if you’ve got multiple volumes.”

The most useful feature of DT’s trash for me is the handling of multiple volumes–secondary-click on the icon and empty the trash for a single volume instead of for all mounted volumes. I’ve needed this more than a few times over the years to empty my primary trash to make room for yet another user backup, without also emptying the trash for the user’s drive that’s mounted and needs to be backed up before working on it. Saves a lot of time over dismounting then remounting the user disk, and for a drive that may be having problems can be less stressful for the drive.

I also use it a lot to avoid having to sanity check a very full trash folder when I just want to clear off space on a single drive that doesn’t need the sanity check.

I’m sure it can all be replicated, but life’s short, I’m getting old, and these days I’d rather be having fun. Staying with Sierra for the foreseeable future = a great time saver!

To clarify a bit further, am I incorrect that DragThing is still working under Mojave? No need to stall at Sierra, correct?

Also, Keyboard Maestro could easily do Trash empty for specific volumes and/or users (as could vanilla AppleScript/Automator). Let me know if you want to explore this further.

Thank you for clarifying why it’s more than just an icon on the Desktop. (: while I personally trained myself to never use the Trash as a maybe/maybe-not holding area, I know that millions of Mac users do, so it makes sense. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to assist people whose disks appeared to have run out of space, simply because they’ve never emptied the trash in literally years.)

I should dig out my DT license and grab the last installer before it disappears; maybe it has some interesting tricks I’ve overlooked for not having appreciation for its banner features.

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I’ve been using DragThing since MacOS 9 (or even before?). When Macs still had only menus, at some moment Windows acquired this docking bar which I found cool and wanted to have on my Mac too.
When the MacOS Dock arrived eventually I was so used to the configurability of DT that I’ve kept it out of sight all the time. I’ve got a Process dock, a multilayered App dock, a separate Scripts dock, all discretely minimised when not used. Apple’s Dock utterly lacks this flexibility at least as far as I know. I’ve also got a Desktop Trash (greatly confusing an Apple technician once…) but that I could eventually live without.
It’s a pity that it will disappear, really. I’ll go and explore the alternatives mentioned in this thread.

In my case it’s working even better than in High Sierra. Icons from Excel and Filemaker files, in HS, where changed in DragThing. Clicking the icon ran the file, changed the icon to the correct one, but, in my case, after restarting my Mac where again wrong.
In Mojave they are correct all the time.

So I personally use DragThing since the beginning it has always just worked. The problem is uBar 3 it doesn’t work well and they nickel and dimed me with uBar 4, Really crashes on X.12.6 uBar 3/4 has no support team my logged problem still sits ignored.

SuperTab and Dropzone 3 are both well build products I like both of these. Aptonic is very responsive when it comes to helping.

Try iCollections. It works similar to DragThing but looks much modern.

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I’ve used DragThing for 20 years. It’s an indispensable part of my Mac experience – one of the first apps I install on every Mac that I own.

I love what James Thomson did when he wrote DragThing. Excellence is a rare thing, and DragThing is excellent at what it does, but James can’t make a living making it 64 bit, so what else am I going to do? Settle for the dock? Not an option. Too limited.

Finding a replacement for DT has been a laborious little quest. It’s an odd comparison, but I think I know now what Roger Ebert went through after Gene Siskel died; he had to go through an extended process of auditions with guest critics. I’ve looked at so many app launchers. None of them gave me the configurability options I wanted. Station didn’t, uBar didn’t, DockShelf didn’t, SuperTab didn’t.

I finally settled on iCollections. It’s the closest by far of any launcher out there for power and configurability, at least insofar as it comes to duplicating my old DT setup. I spent a good chunk of yesterday doing it, and while it’s not EXACTLY what I want, it’s close enough, and, most importantly, it will run on Mojave’s successor when that comes out next fall.

My personal preference in these things is to have a multi-tabbed drawer-style interface capable of launching apps, folders, and files, discretely tucked away when not in use, configurable as to things like color and opacity, with more than one row in each tab. iCollections does all of that. It doesn’t offer the profusion of dock themes and button styles that DragThing does, but I found its feature set respectable in its own right, so I’m going with it. YMMV. I say check it out.

iCollections - Organize your Mac desktop

– Andy


I was also looking for a launcher and bought Station based on recommendations, but either it does not behave with my Finder, or I just do not get the metaphor. I will look at iCollections to see if it will work for me.

I just bought the app – $15.99, very reasonable.

I bought iCollections yesterday and I was able to configure it to do almost everything I was using DragThing for, except setting a keyboard combination to open a specific item. I highly recommend iCollections to those wishing to replace DragThing.

Can you put a Trash Can in a collection?

I don’t think so.

@apMKE: Well said. You’ve expressed my experience and sentiments regarding DragThing and James Thomson exactly. After trying Application Wizard, I then tried and chose iCollections after reading your post and following the link.

iCollections offered to import my DragThings “collections” on first start-up. It made transitioning easier and encouraged me to keep digging to find features that are essential to me (i.e., auto hiding & showing collections, open on single-click) but are poorly documented.

To fill in for DragThing’s “Application Dock,” I have now configured the Mac OS Dock to show only running applications, and to auto-hide on the left side of my screen. @Dennis Swaney, the Trash Can can’t be deleted from the Mac’s Dock, so this may be a work-around for you.

As you say, it’s not perfect, but it’s a darned sight closer than the alternatives I’ve read about. Thank you for the tip.

Glad I could be helpful, thanks. :slight_smile:

Just found your reply as I haven’t been able to figure out how to get email notifications of replies in this new format. Yes, the trash can is still there in the dock, but I prefer it be on the desktop in the lower right corner where it belongs!

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