Yoink: Your OS X Lion Drag-And-Drop Aide

As you may have gathered from my recent posts, I have yet to upgrade to Lion on my personal MacBook Pro. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my ways of playing with the new operating system (and the apps and utilities that are released for it). And let me just say… developers are taking the changes in stride and coming up with some really great apps.

File management is a big deal for people who use their Mac every day, especially if it’s how you make your living. Some of you are command-line ninjas, and moving files about your hard drive with just a few keystrokes is second nature. But for the rest of us who rely on the GUI to drag files between folders, documents, emails, and various other drop locations, OS X Lion’s full-screen apps are less than conducive to streamlining this process.

It’s entirely likely that, if you have not yet discovered Yoink, you’ve used workarounds for moving files that you weren’t even aware were inconvenient. You create temporary folders, or drag files to the desktop, and then have to clean up extraneous copies after the move is complete. The new app from Eternal Storms Software (creators of flickery and ScreenFloat) is intended to remedy that. Yoink puts a contextual shelf on the side of your screen that appears only when you need it to aide you in cross-space file movement.


Allow me first to call attention to that gorgeous icon up there. Icons rarely make or break an app’s usability, but they can certainly catch your eye in the App Store and make you consider buying it. This is how I first notice Yoink: patrolling the App Store for new apps.

Yoink is an unbelievably lightweight app that sits on the left or right side of the screen. It acts as a temporary shelf to put files while you switch spaces or figure out where you want to move them. To begin using Yoink, simply click and begin dragging a file. A black translucent shelf fades in on the left (by default) with a graphic that shows you that you can drop a file there. If you drop your file on the shelf, the shelf will stay visible until you drag it back off the shelf to its final destination.

Yoink creates a temporary alias on the shelf to make file movement a breeze.

Yoink creates a temporary alias on the shelf to make file movement a breeze.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Yoink essentially creates an alias of the file you want to move and places it on the shelf. The file itself remains in its original location until you drag it off the shelf to its final destination. That destination can be anywhere: a Finder window on another Space, an email, or any other full-screened apps that will accept a drag-and-dropped file.

Drag files from the shelf into another folder, or straight into an email.

Drag files from the shelf into another folder, or straight into an email.


Yoink can function quite a bit like an advanced clipboard manager, even with it’s nimble interface. While a file is sitting on the shelf, a pair of contextual buttons appear next to the thumbnail. The top button is simply a delete command, click it to remove the file from the shelf. The second button, however, is a great deal of help when moving multiple files at once with more than one destination. It’s a Quick Look command, which pops a pane out to the side of the shelf that shows you a preview of the file.

Quick Look to make sure you grab the right file from the shelf.

Quick Look to make sure you grab the right file from the shelf.

The behavior of Yoink is somewhat customizable through the Preferences window, accessed by clicking the button that looks like tools in the bottom of the shelf.

Customize the behavior of Yoink to fit your workflow.

Customize the behavior of Yoink to fit your workflow.

The optional menu bar icon gives you access to the options menu, the same menu that you get when you click on the tools button on the shelf. You can set the shelf to appear on the left or right side of the screen, or for an even more deft workflow, right where your mouse pointer begins dragging a file. You can set how long you want the shelf to linger on the screen after dropping a file from it, and set how the file behaves once the move is complete.

One Tiny Improvement

One of the first things that hit me as I began working with Yoink is that the shelf doesn’t support file creation. What I mean is that while you can drag files to and from it between folders or emails, you can’t drag, say, an image off of a Safari webpage onto it. I save images from the web quite a bit, and in Snow Leopard (or non-full screen mode in Lion) I can simply click and drag an image from a web page and drop it on the desktop to create a file. If I could drag it to my Yoink shelf, I could keep Safari in full screen and worry about putting that image where I need it later.

From the brief glance I took at some community feedback on the app, I’m not alone in this sentiment. This is by no means a deal breaker, but instead might be just what the app needs to turn it into the utility that a truly must-have utility.


Even though I only use Lion on occasion, Yoink was a savior for the high volume of files that I move around regularly. It’s a great app, and I feel like it sits in a delicate spot of development where there is room for new features without having to worry about the ever-threatening feature-bloat that often plagues lightweight apps like it.

Let us know what you think. Have you had success with Yoink? Or is dragging and dropping files in Lion a non-issue?


A lightweight utility to streamline your dragging-and-dropping.