Piece-holders are perhaps the most useful feature of Palapeli for helping solve large puzzles. They are small, floating windows into which you can sort groups of pieces, such as “edges”, “sky”, “skyline” or “white house on left”. Initially they appear at a minimum size which is just large enough to show four pieces at close-up scale, so they are quite easy to fit in next to the main puzzle table window.
Being windows, holders can be freely moved around the desktop and resized. The button will delete the holder, but only if it contains no pieces. The button will expand or contract the holder rapidly. The holder can contain any number of pieces (maybe hundreds). A maximize action can be useful when reviewing the contents or constructing a sub-assembly inside the holder.
You can have as many holders as you like. There is usually one which is active - outlined in blue. It is the target for actions such as transferring pieces or deleting a holder.
When you start a large puzzle, a holder called “Hand” is created automatically. This may be the only holder you need with puzzles of 300 to 750 pieces, but you can have as many holders as you like, even with puzzles of less than 300 pieces.
To create or delete a holder, use the → (C) or → (D) menu items, or simply the C and D keys, or the button to delete. When you create a holder, you are asked to give it a name, but that is not essential. Usually the holder is at close-up scale and you can easily see what kind of piece is in it.
When you delete a holder, it must be active (outlined in blue) and empty of pieces. If the holder to be deleted is not active, click on it. After deletion, there is no active holder, so click on one of those that are left.
Transferring pieces by dragging and dropping is not possible with holders, nor is it needed. Instead, you can transfer pieces instantly by “teleporting”, as in “Star Trek”. Teleporting works by hold the Shift key and click with the mouse button.
To transfer pieces to a holder, make sure your target holder is active (outlined in blue), then select some pieces on the puzzle table and hold the Shift key and click with the mouse button. Or you can just click on one piece at a time by hold the Shift key and click with the mouse button. The transferred pieces vanish from the puzzle table and reappear, highlighted, in the holder. As they arrive, they are automatically packed into a grid and the last piece transferred is centered in the view.
To transfer pieces out of a holder, select a piece or pieces inside the holder, then return to the puzzle table and click on an empty spot where you would like the piece(s) to appear, hold the Shift key and click with the mouse button. Avoid clicking on a piece that is already on the puzzle table: it will send the piece to the holder - not what you want. If you accidentally do this with a large joined-up piece (i.e. part of your solution), there is a warning message and an opportunity to cancel.
Pieces stay highlighted after teleporting. That allows you to reverse the action quickly if you accidentally transfer the wrong pieces or use the wrong holder. Also, on the puzzle table, you can easily adjust the position of a piece or pieces that have just arrived or move a piece into the solution.
Teleporting also works between holders. Start as if you are going to transfer pieces to the puzzle table, but then by hold the Shift key and click with the mouse button in an empty spot in another holder. To reverse the process, go back to the original holder and hold the Shift key and click with the mouse button again.
To sort pieces into holders efficiently as you search through a large puzzle, use the technique for stepping through the puzzle a “page” at a time, as described earlier, combined with holders and teleporting to collect pieces as you go. When you have scanned the whole puzzle table, zoom to a close-up of your solution area and place the pieces you have collected. Or you can pre-assemble pieces in holders.
Piece-holders support all the functions of the puzzle table (see Basic moves), except that you can only zoom by using the scroll- or the mouse button.
This means that you can use a holder as an extra puzzle table, if you wish. You can drag and drop, join pieces together, move the boundaries of the area, etc. You can also teleport assembled pieces of any size into or out of a holder, but beware of overlaps or small pieces being hidden.
Finally, you can use the → (A) menu item, followed by → (R) menu item or hold the Shift key and click with the mouse button, to re-pack all the pieces in the holder or empty all the pieces out onto the puzzle table. Or just use the A or R keys on the currently selected holder.