1.7. Cover Flow View
The new, fourth view in Leopard is one of Apple's favorites; it's one of the handful of
Leopard features that gets the most play in Apple's advertising and demos.
As you can sort of see from Figure 1-23, Cover Flow is a visual display that Apple stole
from its own iTunes software, where Cover Flow simulates the flipping "pages" of a
jukebox, or the CDs in a record-store bin. There, you can flip through your music
collection, marveling as the CD covers flip over in 3-D space while you browse.
Figure 1-23. The bottom half of a Cover Flow window is identical to list view. The
top half, however, is an interactive, scrolling "CD bin" full of your own stuff. It's
especially useful for photos, PDF files, Office documents, and text documents. And
when a movie comes up in this virtual data jukebox, you can point to the little
button and click it to play the video, right in place.
The idea is the same in Mac OS X, except that now it's not CD covers you're flipping; it's
gigantic file and folder icons.
To fire up Cover Flow, open a window. Then click the Cover Flow button identified in
Figure 1-23, or choose View as Cover Flow, or press -4.
Now the window splits. On the bottom: a traditional list view, complete with sortable
columns, exactly as described above.
On the top: the gleaming, reflective, black Cover Flow display. Your primary interest
here is the scroll bar. As you drag it left or right, you see your own files and folders float
by and flip in 3-D space. Fun for the whole family!
The effect is spectacular, sure. It's probably not something you'd want to set up for every
folder, though, because browsing is a pretty inefficient way to find something. But in
folders containing photos or movies (that aren't filled with hundreds of files), Cover Flow
can be a handy and satisfying way to browse.
And now, notes on Cover Flow:
• You can adjust the size of Cover Flow display(relative to the list-view half) by
dragging up or down on the grip strip area just beneath the Cover Flow scroll bar.
Figure 1-24. When you point to a PDF file without clicking, you get special
arrow buttons that let you turn pages.
• Multipage PDF documents are special. When you point to one, circled arrow
buttons appear on the jumbo icon. You can click them to page through the
document—without even opening it for real (Figure 1-24).
• QuickTime movies are special, too. When you point to its jumbo display, a
button appears. Click it to play the movie, right there in the Cover Flow window
• You can navigate with the keyboard, too. Any icon that's highlighted in the list
view (bottom half of the window) is also front and center in the Cover Flow view.
Therefore, you can use all the usual list-view shortcuts to navigate both at once.
Use the up or down arrow keys, type the first few letters of an icon's name, press
Tab or Shift-Tab to highlight the next or previous icon alphabetically, and so on.
• Cover Flow shows whatever the list view shows. If you expand a flippy triangle to
reveal an indented list of what's in a folder, the contents of that folder now become
part of the cover flow.
• The previews are actual icons. When you're looking at a Cover Flow
minidocument, you can drag it with your mouse—you've got the world's biggest
target—any where you'd like to drag it: another folder, the Trash, whatever.