Let’s bring back “Command-Y” - Macenstein

Let’s bring back “Command-Y”

Is it too late to request a feature for Leopard? Probably. But here’s one for the 10.5.1 release. Let’s bring back Command-Y.

Those of you who have never known a Mac Pre-OS X likely do not remember Command-Y, but it performed a pretty cool trick. In earlier Mac OS’s, that keyboard shortcut combination invoked the “Put Away” function, which did 2 things. First, if an optical disk (CD, ZIP, JAZ – anyone remember Iomega?) were selected and Command-Y pressed, it would eject the disk. OK, not so cool in these days of “Command-E” and the Mac keyboard with built-in “eject” button, but it also worked on mounted network drives too. Yet that wasn’t really the coolest thing Command-Y did. The REAL trick was it would return items to their original folders.

For example, let’s say you decide to do a bit of hard drive cleaning and run through all your drives and folders, dragging unneeded items to the Trash. Just before you hit “Empty Trash”, you realize you accidentally threw out your only copy of your resume, as well as a couple of your favorite MP3’s. In the old days, selecting these files and hitting Command-Y would send those files out of the trash, and back to their original locations, saving you the hassle of dragging them to the desktop first and then trying to remember what folder on what drive they came from.

How did Command-Y know where to put them? Who knows? Probably something to do with those darn resource forks. But the fact is it did, and it was a pretty darn cool trick, far better than the current Finder’s “UNDO” command which can only remember the last thing you moved.

A more common scenario (for fellow video editors, at least) would occur if you were in an editing program like Media 100 and selected “Delete Clip and Media“, only to realize you actually DID need that piece of footage after all. Going to the Trash Can and performing Command-Y on that piece of footage would return it to the exact hard drive Media 100 expected to find it on, meaning you did not have to figure out a way to relink the media. This could still be useful in the modern day of Final Cut.

Whether or not anyone besides me thinks the “Put Away” functionality has a place in today’s modern Mac OS, currently hitting Command-Y with a file selected does nothing, and that just seems like a waste. I say either bring back the Put Away command, or make Command-Y invoke the “moof” sound with a picture of the Dogcow. Let’s have Command-Y kick it old school, one way or the other.

26 Responses to “Let’s bring back “Command-Y””
  1. You do realise that Command Y on drives and shares has been replaced by Command E eh?

    Command Z also does an undo although that is only for the most recent mistake.

  2. Yessir, Mr. Wookie, I sure do.

    And it serves to make my point all the more that it takes TWO keyboard shortcuts to provide LESS functionality than the mighty Command-Y!


    -The Doc

  3. Count Macula says:

    Oh command-Y… how I miss the.

  4. Rowlings says:

    I’m getting cmnd-y as my next tattoo.

  5. dbr says:

    Is there any reason you *cannot* restore items from the Trash?
    Yes, cmd-Z works, but only until you do anything else with the Finder..

    It seems like it’d be fairly trivial to store the location the file was deleted from, and have a shortcut or context-menu item to move it back there. It might be possible using AppleScript: append the path to the comments-metadata-field, move it to the trash, when it’s restored, retrieve and move the file to the right folder..
    But, it shouldn’t be necessary. In fact, there are a bunch of things that bug me about the OS X trash system, namely being unable to delete specific files in the Trash. Say I want to delete a huge file from the Trash quickly, to free up space, but want to keep a bunch of text-files for an extra day, just incase – again, it’s possible (by running rm ~/.Trash/theBigFile.dmg from Terminal), but again, such things should not be necessary.

  6. santia says:

    the restore to original place functionality does exist in the trash folder just ctrl-click on the item you want to restore and in the contextual menu is that option, now I’m not 100% sure but you could map a keyboard shortcut to this function on the keyboard preference pane of course you wouldn’t have the multiple functionality and that sucks

  7. Rowlings says:

    It’s not in MY trash when I right click on something.
    I have
    If I do a GET INFO on an item, it shows me the former volume it was on + /TRASH, but I don’t have an restore option or anything to put it back where it came from.

    Are you running an installed script or something? Care to share with the rest of the class?

  8. I’ve been missing Command-Y for five years now. 🙂

  9. Tom C says:

    I CMD-Y because you could drag a bunch of files out on to the desktop, work with them, then send them all home again with one keystroke… It took a while to get used to not having it.

  10. coolness says:

    it didn’t only work from the trash. I could drag files from many folders to the desktop in order to work on them for a project, and then hit cmd-y and send them all back to their original folders.

  11. Kilian says:

    I also think the old way the desktop worked was better. That is moving item on there didn’t “move” them there. That way you could drag stuff from external drives on the desktop with them not being copied, but physically simply going to the Desktop folder on the external drive.

    Visually it would appear though as if the folder or file was now on your desktop, this would mean when unmounting the drive the file would seem to vanish (along with the drive), but it would also reappear on your desktop when mounting the drive again. And if you wanted the file to go back where it really came from you’d be hitting the mighty CMD+Y

  12. reag-a-leg says:

    Command-Y not only worked for items tossed in the Trash, it also worked for items dragged to the Desktop, too. I used to use it all the time, since I used the Desktop as a staging area for files that I was working on (still do). When I was finished working on them, I’d select them all, and give it the ol’ Cmd-Y, and voila, everythings instantly back in their original locations.

    I, too, miss the almighty Command-Y.

    I think the original location was stored in one of the Desktop database files, because if I dragged stuff to the Desktop, then (for one reason or another) I rebuilt the Desktop, Cmd-Y no longer worked on those files. I could be mistaken, as memory often does odd things as one ages.

  13. phode says:

    What about this pet peeve of mine in Apple Mail– No command-Y for mail wrongly put in the junk mail by the program. If you have umpteen accounts, you have to make sure you return the junk mail individually to the correct account folder. It ISN’T done automatically; pretty dumb for a 21st century program.

  14. aToMac says:

    Also missing Command + P after selecting a document in the Finder. It would open the file and bring up the print dialog. You’d print and the file closed again.

    Now you first have to open the document and press Command + P to Print.

  15. TanZing says:

    Too late to have Command-Y in Leopard. In the latest build it invokes “Quick Look” on any highlighted file in the Finder.

    I very much miss it in its original incarnation.

  16. widgetboy says:

    i always use command-Y in illustrator. never used it in the OS but it sure sounds like a swell feature.

  17. letterten says:

    i thought i was the only one who missed cmd-y.

  18. Yimbo says:

    Command-Y is in Leopard already: they call it “Time Machine”.

  19. eddy says:

    Instead of dragging items to the desktop, work with them and put them away in one keystroke can be done with alias: drag the item to the desktop with cmd+alt pressed and it creates an alias. Instead of using put-away, just trash the alias.

    And restoring junk mail (or items you deleted) to the original account works by just dropping email-item on the combined inbox item. Works for me (mail probably looks at the to: field)

    Yes, the information about an item being on the desktop was stored in the desktop database. It was just a flag.

    Using put-away with trash items, I actually didn’t think about it till I read it and come to think of it, that is something that I really find useful because I sometimes find myself in the situation to want an un-delete.

    So, requesting this feature: I second that, but for the trash-items only.

  20. Alex says:

    HOLY CRAP! He said ‘command-Y’!!! Oh how I miss thee!!!! Next to putting an alias of my hard drive in the dearly departed (RIP…sniff…) Apple menu, command-y is what I miss the most about Classic Mac OS!!!!


  21. Nerg says:

    Make a t-shirt and see them sell

  22. Cueball says:

    PUT AWAY (Cmd-Y) was supremely useful in OS 9 and before.

    Even better is the excellent and robust implementation of that function in Win XP. Open the Recycle Bin and the files there are by default sorted by WHEN DELETED. There is also a column that shows ORIGINAL LOCATION. It is superbly easy to see when and from where files got trashed. Equally easy to return them to those locations.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an evangelist for Microsoft. I have been a Mac user from 1987 to today. But I did build a PC a few years ago to familiarize myself with Windows. And it has made me a more informed user.

    If it is our assumption that all things MS are inferior, bad, evil, laughable, then we are freeing Apple from the competitive pressure that is necessary to keep improving all aspects of their products that we need and want. By looking down our noses at Windows, are we actually cutting off said noses?

    How did PUT AWAY functionality disappear from Mac OS with hardly a whimper, even as Windows refined it superbly?

    More importantly, how do we it get back?

  23. reply says:

    Back in the time pre OS X the “almighty” cmd-y performed another miraculous task: for removable media you had a choice between EJECT and PUT AWAY, two very different things. The eject command did just what it does nowadays: unmounting a volume and ejecting the medium. Put away but kept the volume virtually mounted, the icon and depending windows greyed but remaining visible on the desktop. This allowed to switch between different removable media, even when you booted of one of those. Any access to a momentary not available medium let the Macintosh eject the current medium and ask for the needed one. This switching was not too convenient, but sometimes the one and only option to recover a sad mac, do special installations etc. Think of a machine with a small harddisk and just a floppy disk drive. It was a solution to deal with omnipresent limitations of available storage media. The storage is a bit larger today, but the limitation stays. So where is cmd-y ?

  24. new mac user says:

    I just plugged in my external hard drive into a new computer (both are macs) and so I started to drag some applications like Word and iPhoto from the external hard drive to the computer….

    I only needed some photos from my iphoto so i can put it on my ipod. and because this computer i was using was getting slow i decided to clear things up. I put the application of iphoto in the trash…because it took up a lot of space….and yeah. (this was a week ago).

    and now i realized that I deleted all the photos….when i emptied the trash….is there a way i can get it back? because i cant find in on my external hard drive either….i thought i could get it back from there, but it’s not there. HELP!

  25. AB says:

    I miss cmd-y too. BRING IT BACK! BRING IT BACK! Oh well, thought I’d try. Anyone come any genius programmers out there know a way to make a global hack to ‘add’ it back it the OS?

  26. Mith says:

    Oh, goodness yes! Bring it back, bring it back! With you on this one!

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