MightyPrefix! -- by Bret Victor

Most NDAs just aren't "Finder-smart". It seems I'm always running into the problem where I have a Finder window open, and I need to manipulate one of the files in it with an NDA. So I select the NDA, and it puts up a Standard GetFile dialog box... but it's in some random directory, nowhere near the file that I want. In the Finder, the file is sitting right in front of my face, yet I still need to navigate through the NDA's GetFile box to access the file.

Of course, vice versa is just as annoying as well. If I go through the GetFile box from the NDA, do what I want with my file, and then return to the Finder, I still have to go through a bunch of Finder windows to get back to that folder.

The reason for this is that Standard File boxes use something called prefixes, while Finder keeps track of its windows in its own special way. And never the twain shall meet... until now, with MightyPrefix!

MightyPrefix is a combination NDA and Finder extension. However, the system "thinks" of it as an NDA, so it has to go into your System/Desk.Accs folder. Or, of course, you can use the Installer or launch it with IR if you wish.

First, a little explanation of what prefixes are. Prefixes are pathnames to folders. GS/OS will keep track of 32 of these prefixes for you as numbers. So, for example, if prefix 27 was set to /Hard1/System/Desk.Accs, then instead of refering to /Hard1/System/Desk.Accs/Control.Panel, you could simply say 27/Control.Panel, and GS/OS would know what you're talking about. But, since most applications let you access your files through Standard File boxes or windows, most prefixes are mainly of interest to programmers or people using command line shells.

However, there is the mystical Prefix Eight. Prefix 8 is the "common use" prefix for most NDAs. That is, when you pop open a GetFile box, it will usually be showing the contents of prefix 8, and wherever you were when you're done with the GetFile box ends up in prefix 8.

So if you are just a normal user, you'll probably only want to be concerned with the Finder Extra part of MightyPrefix. Open up a Finder window, and then choose MightyPrefix from the extras menu. Hit return or click on the "Set prefix to window" button. And then go into an NDA that uses Standard File and tell it you want to select a file, and that folder should be right there in front of you. Try using Standard File to move to another directory. When you come back to the Finder, select MightyPrefix again and type "O" or click on the "Open prefix" button. A Finder window will open up, showing you the folder you were last in.

This works for most NDAs, but not all. Some NDAs try to be smart by using some other prefix, so they can "remember" which folder you were in the last time you were using that NDA. That means you have to find out what prefix it uses. That's where the NDA part of MightyPrefix comes in. Under the Apple menu, you'll find an option that says "View prefixes". Select it, and a window will pop up showing you all of the currently defined prefixes. Since this part is an NDA, you can see the prefix list from within any application. (The NDA has no way of knowing when the prefixes have changed. So if you think that something's changed, click where it says "Refresh prefix list" and it'll make sure what it is showing is up to date.)

If you find what prefix your "smart" NDA is using, simply tell the MightyPrefix Finder Extra that you want to work with that prefix by typing it in where it says "prefix number". The default is of course 8, since that's what you'll use most often, but you can set it to any prefix number you like.

If you do use a command line shell some of the time, or have other prefixes set for some other reason, MightyPrefix is especially useful, since it lets you quickly open up those prefixes in the Finder, or set them to other folders if you'd like.

Just a word of caution -- if you don't know what you are doing, it's best not to change any prefix other than prefix 8, since prefixes are there for application use. If you do know what you're doing though, go ahead and set all the prefixes you want.