Monday, October 3, 2011

Mac Attack Monday: File Browsing Alternatives

Mac Software Alternatives: Finder

While the Finder application does what it's name implies, I think it stops short in delivering many of the features we really need. It does browse through many file types and allows us to perform the basic tasks; however there are other applications out there that I think offer the features I most use and look for.

One option is Pathfinder ( Utilizing a dual pane browsing system, you can easily navigate to where you want to be in one pane, while retaining a static position in the second. Another couple of useful features they offer are tabs and bookmarks to easily keep your place with any file or folder you choose. Particularly helpful if you have a set of items you access often, or even if you want to set up a group of files by context or project.

A function that, coming from a Windows based PC to a Mac I missed, was being able to “cut” a file from one location and “paste” it in another. Finder allows you to copy and paste, but not to actually remove the file from one folder and place it in another. Even if you drag from one Finder window to a second, the best you can hope for is that the file will copy and paste a duplicate of itself in the new location. Sometimes that's just not what I want – being the organizational freak that I am.

Command clicking on a file brings up the usual alternate menu options but with a few more bells and whistles. You could always assign categories, but with PathFinder you can cut, copy path, choose which program opens that particular file, compress and email, and utilize any number of applications that work with it. For example, I use the program Notebook by Circus Ponies Software ( to capture many of my thoughts and concepts when I'm designing. It's a nice way to do a flow chart with graphics, links, lists, etc. I can send whatever file I Command click on to this program in PathFinder without having to take the extra steps to open the application and then drag and drop the file in.

If you want to try it before you decide whether or not it's for you, the site offers a free 30 day trial license. At the end of the 30 days if you wish to continue you'll need to purchase a full license for $39.95, but I can tell you that it's well worth it. I've used PathFinder for almost two years and have yet to be unhappy with its features or performance, and would highly recommend it if you're looking for a file browser that has the potential for so much more.