Drag And Drop Web Browsing

Here is a "little tip" that can have a significant impact on the way you interact with your web browser.  Odds are, you spend a lot of your day in a browser, so it's worth knowing.  Even if you already know the basics of this technique, you might find a few new ideas here.

Standard technique:
Do a Google search and see several pages you want to view.  
Click one of them.  Google's Search Result page is gone from view.  It's somewhere in the "goback history" wilderness, and you can (probably/hopefully) find it again later.

Drag-And-Drop Technique:
Have two browser windows open.  Overlap them if you have a one-screen system, or put them on separate screens if you have that luxury.  The one on the right is your " Exploration Window" and the one on the left is the " Working Window."

Do a Google search in the Exploration Window and see links to several pages you want to view.  
Drag a link from the Google search results page and drop it onto the Working Window.

Your Google page is still open, right where you left it.  The link you dragged shows a "semi-selected" highlight, so you know where you left off.  If the newly-opened page is not what you wanted to see, you won't get lost in a maze of "gobacks" in order to return to the Google results page.

Drag another link from the search results page onto the Working Window.  And continue.
Drag a link to another browser window
Variations and Advanced Tips:

Use the tabs in your Working Window
If a page in your Working Window looks promising, don't replace it with the next link from the Exploration Window.  Instead, open a new tab in your Working Window (press Ctrl+T) and drop the next link there.  Now you can get back to that "promising" page very easily later on.

If you use FireFox, there is a variation on this:   Drop a link in an empty part of the tab area near the top.  FF takes this to mean "Open as a new tab in this browser window."  IE's not so clever (at least not through version 8) -- no matter where you drop the link, it replaces the currently-visible page with the drag-and-drop URL.
Drag from your email client
If you get a lot of emails with links (as do Experts here at EE) you can drag a link from the email and drop it on your Working Window.  If you don't know this trick, it might make a big difference in how you interact with EE.

There is a minor issue:  If you use Outlook Express as your email client, and if you are set to "Read all messages as plain text," then you can't drag the links -- you can only click them.  And when you click, OE opens the link using what seems to be an randomly-selected browser window.  Solution: Just set your Outlook Express "Read" options to enable HTML display.  That makes the links "draggable," even when they are embedded in plain-text emails.
Open "This Page" in the Working Window browser.
If you are looking at a page in your Exploration Window and you would like to open the same page in your Working Window, there is no obvious link to drag... Or is there?  Just click-on and drag the icon that is next to the URL in the address bar and drop it on the Working Window.
Drag a link from the address barThis comes in handy when you are collecting a series of pages that you will need later, for instance to provide links in an EE answer or in your newsletter writing, or whatever.  The drag-and-drop is far more convenient than a copy-and-paste of the URL text.
Create a URL Bucket
You know that you can easily save any URL page as a "Favorite."  But do you really want to clutter up your actual favorites with a bunch of links that you expect to use just one time and then never need again?  Looking over a colleague's shoulder, I've seen "favorites" lists that are 20 pages long.  That is just wrong.

While doing research, I sometimes reach a point where I have half-a-dozen links to save.  So I right-click on the desktop and choose New > Folder.  I name it "URL Bucket."  To save a URL, I can drag it from the browser address bar and drop in onto the folder, or drag and drop a link directly from a webpage.  Now I know that no matter how deeply I go into the maze that is the World Wide Web, I can get to that saved URL easily when I start unwinding to do the finish work.  And later, I know that I can drop the whole folder into the trash bin.  This is a lot better than scattering shortcuts all over the desktop or packing my Favorites list with things that aren't favorites at all.

Note:  FireFox bases the link-file names on the page title, but not all webpages have a title.  In that case, FireFox names it "untitled.URL" .  If there is already a no-title URL, that can be a little awkward.  Internet Explorer creates a .LNK file and its filename is based on the actual URL.
Popup links (target="_blank")
    -- or --
New Page in this window.
Many pages show hyperlinks that when clicked, attempt to open the page in a new browser.  Your popup blocker might prevent the action, or it might open in a new tab.  Some keyboard and context-menu options for controlling the action are covered below.  In general, dragging such links works just like dragging regular links, so if you are using drag-and-drop browsing, then you are already in control.

However, there is one drag-and-drop trick you might not know:   If you want to open the link in the same window (same tab and same browser), just drag the link up to the titlebar or down to the statusbar.  When the cursor changes to indicate "drop target here," drop it.  One non-obvious advantage of this is that now you can use "GoBack" to get to the original page -- rather than looking through separate windows or tabs.
Other (non drag-and-drop) Browsing Shortcuts
You know that you can right-click a link and choose "Open in New Window" and "Open in New Tab."  It's not so well known that you can save a gesture or two by using:

    Shift-click a link (open in new window)
    Ctrl-click a link (open in new tab)
    Middle Button-click (or Mousewheel click) a link (open in new tab)
    Ctrl+T  New tab (your home page or about:blank)
    Ctrl+K  Duplicate this page in a new tab
    Ctrl+N  Duplicate this page in a new window

One final tip:
Don't ever maximize your browser window; that's just silly.  If you have a wide-screen LCD monitor, maximizing a webpage fills a huge tract of your valuable screen real estate with unusable whitespace.  Most webpages are designed for a width of about 1000 pixels and many will work reasonably well at 800 wide.  So make your browser window the right size and use multiple browser windows.  

Make use of the available desktop to do things like drag-and-drop.  You only need a corner of a window visible to make it quickly available for front-and-center access.  Sure... you should minimize windows when you want to get them out of the way, but you should have your "working set" of windows where you can get to them without pausing to dig around in the taskbar.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=
If you liked this article and want to see more from this author,  please click the Yes button near the:
      Was this article helpful?
label that is just below and to the right of this text.   Thanks!
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=-=- =-=-=-=

Comments (0)

Have a question about something in this article? You can receive help directly from the article author. Sign up for a free trial to get started.