Drag and Drop
Drag and drop is a key Windows user interface function to master, because it is used in many places in both Windows and third party applications. It can be used to move or copy any file or directory from one location to another, or to provide a file as input to a program.
It is important to note that the drag and drop technique is also context sensitive, and the results it produces depends completely upon the circumstances in which it is used. To demonstrate this, we will manipulate the CompTIA folder.
First, double click the My Computer icon, and then double click the C Drive icon. Position the Explorer window so that you can see both it and the CompTIA folder on your desktop. Click on the folder with the left mouse button, keep the button pressed and move the cursor over the Explorer window. Note that the folder appears to detach itself and float along with the mouse. When you have moved the cursor into the Explorer window, release the left mouse button. The CompTIA folder will disappear from the desktop and reappear inside the C drive; you have moved the folder.
Next, click on the CompTIA folder with the right mouse button, keep the button pressed and move the cursor over the desktop. The context sensitive menu you saw when creating a shortcut reappears. Note that the default action item (highlighted in bold type) is Move. Click Move, and the folder returns to its original location.
When using drag and drop on a file or folder within a drive, the default action is to move the item to its new location. When using drag and drop between different drives (for example, dragging a file from a C: Explorer window to an A: floppy drive Explorer window), the default action is to copy the item. This is an extremely important distinction, as it is very easy to lose track of file locations.
Next, we will use drag and drop to provide input to an application. Open the Notepad application by clicking on the Start button, selecting Run, typing notepad.exe into the text box and pressing return. The Notepad window appears. Drag the window to one side so that you can see both it and the CompTIA folder on the desktop by clicking on the blue title bar and moving the mouse. Click on the folder with the left mouse button, keep the button pressed and move the cursor over the Notepad window. Note that a small white box with a + symbol appears to the bottom right of the cursor. This signifies the application the cursor is currently over is drag and drop aware. Release the mouse button, and Notepad will attempt to manipulate the item we have dropped on its window. In this case, Notepad is expecting a text file to drop on it, so it displays an error. If we had dragged and dropped a text file instead, Notepad would have happily opened it for us, saving a potentially lengthy navigation to the file using the File-Open dialog box.
Many applications support drag and drop features, including Microsoft Office, Paint Shop Pro and WinZip. Drag and drop is usually implemented as a quick way to cause an application to load a file, although this does have some exceptions. An example of this could be a secure eraser application, which deletes any files dropped onto it. The moral of the story is to be always aware of what you are dragging and dropping on!
Drag and drop is not available in all situations. To demonstrate this, try to drag the CompTIA folder on to the My Computer icon. The cursor will turn into a no entry sign, signifying that drag and drop is not available in this context.
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