Personally, I like the Finder in Mac OS X. It works for me. Mostly. When it doesn’t, it really doesn’t.
There’s just this growing list of things I really want the Finder to do that it doesn’t do, or doesn’t do well. The solution? Ditch the Finder.
Among the technorati elite, the Finder is the one Mac application they love to bash. It’s slow. It freezes. It doesn’t do this and it doesn’t do that.
But the Finder is always there and changes flavor as you need it. So why is a Finder replacement so popular?
Enter PathFinder from Cocoatech. PathFinder, now at version 4.6.1, is a file browser and manager with more tools than the Finder, more customization than George Barris or Chere, and more rave reviews than Desperate Housewives.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Apple’s Finder. I use column view, and I don’t open Finder windows all over the place to find things. Never. Ever.
In column view I get to see everything I want, copying is a breeze, finding files easier than ever.
In my left column I set up frequently used folders. In the tool bar at the top I add the Desktop, Applications, and other apps I use more often than others.
Finder works for me. Sometimes. Finder doesn’t work for some. Some Mac users hate it, though they’re the minority.
For a look at Finder problems and a potential solution, check out John Siracusa’s article on “The Spatial Finder..”
For the rest of us, we either live by the Finder, die by the Finder, or find something else.
A popular and attractive something else is PathFinder. At first glance, PathFinder will look familiar. It’s a Finder, you know. It’s the interface to our Mac so they couldn’t really make it much different, right?
PathFinder has more tools. Shelf, Preview Pane, Tabs, Icon Size Slider, Select, Search, Stuffit?
Wait. Suffit? I thought we were done with that (I prefer zip) aging relic. No, Stuffit is integrated within PathFinder.
The PathFinder interface will look a bit more cluttered. There’s no brushed aluminum, just more platinum plastic, smaller icons, and more selections (things to click).
I use the FInder’s Shelf and Tool Bar as kind of a bookmark. A simple click gets me to a place on my Mac quickly. PathFinder gives you a whole bookmark bar just for that purpose. Customization goes waaaaay beyond Apple’s Finder.
I’ve noticed that Finder lags a bit when updating folders with many files, or when changing a folder name.
PathFinder is faster, with near instant updates of file listings. Apple likes simplicity, PathFinder likes to tell you more, give you more choices.
New to OS X Tiger is Spotlight. New to PathFinder is a Select Tool. Find and select files with different criteria (rather than just, you know, “click” to select a file or files).
I have to admit that I like the Tabs feature in PathFinder. Tabs are a fact of life in Mac OS X. They’re everywhere you want them to be. Except in the Finder.
They’re in PathFinder in the file browser window. Make your own. Buy a bigger Apple Cinema Display HD.
There’s other little improvements over the Finder that I like. Progress bars contain more information than just a colorful graph. The copy engine is different (Apple’s has always been slow).
It’s a healthy list of cool things your Finder can’t do that $34.95 for PathFinder lets you do. If you’re on your Mac all freakin’ day, then anything that speeds up click, drag, drop, and find is cheap.
Just like the Finder, PathFinder has always been a work in progress. You know, never quite there or as stable and dependable as critics would prefer.
If you’re a long-time Mac user who’s already noticed the shortcomings of Apple’s Finder, find your way to Cocoatech and try out PathFinder. Click Here for PathFinder details and download link.