Moving Directory: Replace-Merge-Skip instead of Just Replace

I’ve been using a Mac extensively for the first time at my new job, and I have to say it’s been quite the elegant experience. Installation by copying directories? Beautifully functional touchpad gestures? A gigantic glass screen across which my windows may splay comfortably? Yes, yes, and yes!

Yet, besides the strangeness of how touchpad scroll gestures are the opposite for Mac (swipe down to go down) and my Lenovo laptop (swipe up to go down, like on a tablet), the thing that has jumped out the most is that when you paste a copy of a directory in Finder, the automatic behavior is to replace the old one (after a prompt, of course). That just seems counterintuitive, especially where Windows gives you the option of merging, skipping, replacing, etc. I never realized how I depended on this functionality until it just wasn’t there anymore.

A helpful thread on SuperUser.com suggested some downloadable apps which would add the functionality; someone mentioned that you could do this easily on command line (although I’m sadly still a cmd line rookie — but I used my first sudo command today :D). Someone else mentioned that it is now built into OSX Lion, though you have to hold down the option key after the replace prompt comes up, which doesn’t seem like too much of an improvement for users who wouldn’t know it was even there (plus I’m running an older version of MacOS, so it doesn’t work for me — sad face).

Another person on the thread said that this replace behavior is probably because application bundles are simply directories and they need to be able to install (move and replace older files) cleanly, but one feels like there could be an everyone-wins solution, like copying into the Applications folder would have replace as a default, whereas into other folders it would prompt the user to merge/update/skip/replace.

Well, in any case, it seems unlikely that anything further than the “hold down ‘option'” solution will be implemented in Finder, so what we all need to do is become command line experts 🙂

(I’m not the only person in 2014 thinking about this, so if you’d like a workable solution instead of a talking piece, there’s a great post on DBSysnet.com, Merging Directories (Folders) on Mac OS X).)