When I download a PDF from Safari and it opens automatically (which I want), I then want to be able to drag the document title thumbnail to a folder and MOVE it to that folder. Instead, it creates an alias to that file. I know if I hit Option and move it it will COPY it to the folder I drag it to. I want the default behavior to be that when I drag the thumbnail without holding anything down, it will MOVE to where I'm dragging it. Can you direct me to some tweak or terminal command that can make this happen?? Thank you!

OSX: El Capitan


Drag protocol can be a bit confusing, however, it does follow a recognisable pattern…

To the same volume

  • Drag will move - unless the file is in a protected location [root level of the volume, or in a protected System folder], in which case it will copy
  • Opt ⌥ drag will copy
  • Cmd ⌘ drag will override the simple drag behaviour for protected files & move instead [but will need Admin authentication].

To a different volume

  • Drag will copy
  • Opt ⌥ drag will copy
  • Cmd ⌘ drag will move [ie, copy, then delete the original.]

So, Opt ⌥ always copies, but Cmd ⌘ reverses the default behaviour of just dragging.

Worst case scenario - you can change your modifier key & check the added icon on the file you're dragging to see your end result, right up until you let go of the mouse button.

Just to complete the set - Cmd ⌘ Opt ⌥ dragging will make an Alias at the destination.

edit …& after all that I realise that Preview will not adhere to that behaviour… Move appears to not be an option at all.
Best guess is that you cannot move an open document & even hope that an app could keep track of where it went.
The Finder can. You can move the file in the Finder whilst open in Preview, but then Preview will tell you you are working on a copy & you need to save a fresh version.
Pretty safe & sensible behaviour, really.

  • Thank you for the quick reply. I am trying what you said but when I attempt to drag with Cmd pressed, it does not allow me (i.e. circle with a line through it). Any thoughts? – mbaesquire Oct 24 '15 at 18:08
  • will research… most likely would be that you cannot move an open document - that really would need some behind the scenes juggling to not break anything. OK, tested by moving in the Finder whilst open in Preview. Preview claims you are about to save a copy - presumably the open version is in RAM & the original file cannot now be found by Preview, even though Finder 'saw' where it went. I'd say that's pretty sensible behaviour :) – Tetsujin Oct 24 '15 at 18:09
  • Just tested it. It appears that you're correct - can't move an open document. I didn't think it would be that hard since you can basically move the document by selecting a different folder in the drop down (see screenshot: dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/28841209/SS.jpg). Wish there was a way to drag the thumbnail. Maybe I need to rethink how I open/move things around. I was thinking that dragging the thumbnail would be the easiest since I have my Finder windows open on a separate monitor. – mbaesquire Oct 24 '15 at 18:18
  • Ok last question related to this: is there a way to change default behavior, so that drag will copy instead of move (so I don't have to remember to hold down the Opt key every time)? – mbaesquire Oct 24 '15 at 18:23
  • I think it would be better to learn the defaults than to fight them, tbh. It's global behaviour, also similar [if more advanced] than Windows does it too, so presumably it has some basis in either usability/functionality or habit. – Tetsujin Oct 24 '15 at 18:25

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