The Yoink ‘virtual shelf’ helps reduce Mac OS X desktop clutter

Eternal Storms Software’s Yoink for Mac OS X (10.7.3 or later) can simplify your workflow as it provides a small window to simplify dragging files between Spaces (an OS X feature that helps reduce clutter on your desktop by allowing you to group your application windows according to the way you work and switch between them), full screen apps or simply between Finder windows. Think of it as a virtual shelf.

Dragging and dropping files can be very cumbersome, so Yoink was created to help, according to the folks at Eternal Storms. The application fades in a small window every time you start dragging a file, so you can drop it there.

You drag files onto Yoink’s window. Then you can navigate to the destination of the drop without holding on to the mouse button. Once at your destination, drag the files out of Yoink’s window and drop them onto the app or window that’s the target of the drop.

Yoink is customizable. You can have its virtual shelf sit at the top, middle or bottom of either the left or right hand of your display. I’ve heard that it could clash with apps that dock on the same side of the display, but I haven’t run into such problems.

Remember where you’ve parked the Yoink shelf. It’s invisible until you drag a file onto it. Then it magically appears. If you hover your mouse over the Yoink shelf location, it appears and shows you a list of all the items you have stored in it.

To get a closer look at items stored in the Yoink shelf, click on the “eye” icon next to them. They’ll open up via Mac OS X’s Quick Look.

To remove items, you use a little brush at the bottom of the Yoink window to “sweep” all items off the shelf. It’s an intuitive, visual clue. If you prefer, you can also click the “x” icon to delete individual shelf items.

Items dragged to the Yoink shelf remain in their original location. Just as if you’d used the Finder, if the destination is on the same volume as the original, the item is moved; if the destination is on a different volume, the item is copied.

I understand the reasoning behind this. Still, there’s a part of me that wishes the original item were actually moved into the Yoink shelf, freeing up desktop space.

Also, the shelf still shows only three items at a time, presenting a scroll bar if you drag more than three items into it. I wish this were customizable so that if, for example, you have a 27-inch iMac you could choose to have more than three items displayed.

In the Yoink Preferences you can choose to have Yoink launch at log-in (which I recommend). You can also choose to show the Yoink icon in the menu bar. This could be handy if you forget where you parked your onscreen shelf.

As of version 2.5.2, the software allows for files in Yoink to be pinned for re-use. It also comes with better handling and recognition of drags. as well as some small improvements and bug fixes.

If you don’t regularly move files or content between full-screen apps or Mission Control desktops, you may not need Yoink. However, if you do, this is an indispensable utility.

Yoink is exclusively available on the Mac App Store for US$4.99 and requires Lion. A free 15-day trial is available at the product website.