I do a lot of file management on my Mac and I use Finder a lot but it has enough shortcomings that I have always wanted something better. For instance, I hate how my Finder does not maximize to fill the screen when I hit the maximize traffic light. I want a Finder that has a dual window mode so I can easily copy files back and forth without long, convoluted drag operations. And I always wanted to see my folders sorted first (at the top of the list) and then I want to see my files. Little nits like that made me want to either fix or replace my Finder.
First I tried to replace Finder. A few years ago I started researching Finder replacements. Way back then I found a great one and I have been a loyal Path Finder by Cocoatech paying customer ever since. It does a million things better than Finder. Path Finder gives me both tabbed windows and a dual browser mode, it sorts folders before files if you want, and it fills the whole screen when I hit the maximize button. And about a million other great things. I thought that was all I would ever need but read on, I recently learned there is an even better way.
So after testing Path Finder I fell in love with it and dropped the coin for the registered version. It’s that good thanks to the hard work of Steve Gehrman. Path Finder is like Finder on steroids. It’s got all kinds of whiz-bangy features like a dual browser mode, a handy drop stack (which I love and use all the time), a bookmark bar, saved favorites, built-in file editor, it’s own image viewer, and even it’s own search function. All icing on the cake but in reality it is also far more than I really need. The more I use it the more I realize that Finder isn’t all that bad.
With the advent of Snow Leopard, fixing Finder has become a viable option and the smart folks at BinaryAge have started testing this new approach. You see, Apple re-wrote their Finder app specifically for Snow Leopard using the Cocoa framework and this has made it possible for programmers to extend the base level app. In older versions of OSX Finder was built on the Carbon framework which they say is very hard to tweak. BinaryAge has begun testing a great new Finder plug-in called TotalFinder and it has showed me that I don’t really need a Finder replacement at all. I love TotalFinder simply because it is not a Finder replacement and now I am seriously thinking it can replace Path Finder when renewal time comes around.
After ALPHA testing TotalFinder for a while now I am slowly learning that it is exactly what I needed all along. I don’t really need 90% of what the Finder replacements do and that’s the elegant approach of TotalFinder. It makes my Finder better without replacing it. There are actually a few problems replacing Finder because it is so ingrained in the OS. Enough so that I found I was jumping back and forth between Path Finder and Finder all the time.
TotalFinder adds the tabbed file management I crave, a new dual browser mode (that needs some work), a maximize that goes to full screen (which always bugged me), and it makes folders to appear first which I can’t live without. It does all the little things that I really want without getting rid of my good old Finder. And it does that one other little thing that even Path Finder can’t do which seals the deal for me. It supports those beautiful shelve-motif background images for my icons. You know those nifty little Finder Background images that make Finder look so cool? Since TotalFinder just extends Finder, they work just fine but for some reason Path Finder still have not figured that one out. I’ve posted this question to their support forums but it always falls on deaf ears.
So it will be a Finder plug-in for me. And when TotalFinder is finally released I am going to break out the PayPal for it. The latest free download ALPHA version is very stable and the release can’t be far off either. The ALPHA is set to expire soon, on 1-Sept, so we will likely see a solid BETA and then a release candidate. I can’t wait for a Finder that does it all, for my TotalFinder. Sorry Path Finder but I am a Mac guy and a modder and that means I am all about the GUI. Win the GUI war, get the functionality there, and you get my vote. Here’s a couple screen shots of what I am talking about. The first screen Path Finder 5.6.6 by Cocoatech. The second screen shot is how TotalFinder 0.9.8 ALPHA makes your Finder look. Which one looks better to you?Finder: Fix or Replace?,