App of the Week: Path Finder
Among the things synonymous with Macs is the Finder. Finder is, of course, the file system of the Mac operating system (and that familiar smiling face in your Dock) It allows you to find all of your files, move them, copy them, delete them, etc. But it has some limitations, some you may or may not have encountered. Path Finder steps in to try to make a better version of Finder.
Path Finder is a “Finder-replacement” app; it is designed to run and perform all of the operations that Finder provides, as well as some that it doesn’t. It can still copy, paste, move, and delete files from the trash just like Finder does, but it’s the other features that hook you. For example, Path Finder can create multiple panes that provide different functions. These panes can act as drawers for holding clipboard items, displaying detailed information about a file or folder, and a dual pane. Dual
panes mean you can see different folder contents side by side and easily move or copy files between them. For moving files to and from Dropbox, or moving around other files, this is a wonderful feature.
Another thing about Finder is that it wants to open new windows for files. Path Finder can do that, but it has a better way. Taking a page from the web browser handbook, Path Finder uses tabs. While you can move files around between these tabs, it provides a less cluttered experience for working with more than 2 folders at a time. This is a feature that has been around in Linux for a while, but something I think all file browsers need to implement. If we have it for web browsers, why not file browsers. My only complaint is that the tabs could look more like Safari in style rather than a rounded upward style. Or you can just cut and paste the files; that’s right, Path Finder has a cut feature.
Finder has the nice ability to preview most files with a tap of the space bar and switch between running applications with the Command-Tab shortcut. Path Finder retains the abilities, but then spruces them up. Path Finder can open up some text files like .txt and .rtf, as well as Word documents and images, for not only viewing but editing with a built-in text editor. This opens very fast and is great for quick edits and reviews. It isn’t as full-fledged as other dedicated text editors, yet works fine nonetheless. It also has a nice function that reads your text out loud to your with Mac’s speech synthesis service. And why just scroll through the apps you have open, when Path Finder has a built-in app launcher and keyboard shortcut to go with it. The app launcher is fairly fast, and highlights apps that are already running. What surprised me the most was that it found all of the apps on my hard drive. When I launched it for the first time, it listed apps that I had never seen in my Applications folder before. These turned out to be buried deep in XCode’s developer folder, and were something that no other app launcher had ever found before.
Path Finder also has a lot of power user features. As well as the text editor is a built-in Terminal for launching terminal commands and feeling like a boss. Path Finder also allows for editing of ACL permissions, launching command line tools from the main interface, hex editors, and more.
While I’m impressed with the app entirely, there are just some things that put me off. I use an external hard drive as part of my backup strategy. However, in order to see that drive on my desktop, I have to enable seeing all hard drives, including my internal drive, which I don’t like on my desktop. Under Finder, the external hard drive is simply listed as part of removable media (like flash drives).
Path Finder, unlike choosing a default web browser
, doesn’t completely turn off Finder. You can, through Path Finder, remove the Finder icon from the Dock and turn it off completely. However, by doing so, you disable some features, and other programs don’t want to listen. For example, I sometimes had trouble dragging files into the Trash on my Dock, and had to use Path Finder’s desktop trash can. If I opened my Dropbox folder through the menubar, Finder would launch rather than Path Finder, but I could always open the Dropbox folder by going to it through Path Finder.
Path Finder is certainly not for the faint of heart, at least if you’re not willing to play around with the menus and preferences. It’s also not cheap, $40 American to buy, but there is a free 30-day trial. Upgrades (such as the recent update from version from 5 to 6) require payment, though this is cheaper than buying it new. However, I’ve been using the trial version for about two weeks and I can almost guarantee you that I will be buying this. It’s has its quirks, but is something that adds so much to the Finder experience that I don’t know if I want to go back.
Path Finder is a $40 purchase with a free 30-day trail. It is available from Cocoatech and runs on OS 10.6 and higher (Snow Leopard and higher). You can check it out here: http://cocoatech.com/pathfinder/. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen. You can also check out my Google Plus. Thanks!