I’ve had a problem with the Mac’s Finder for about 10 years. Mac OS X’s early Finder versions were worse than Mac OS Classic.
The upcoming OS X Leopard improves the Finder and adds more features, but still isn’t as feature rich as Path Finder, which is available now.
The Finder is the file browser on your Mac and sits on top of the desktop. It’s that handy utility that lets you find what you need on your Mac. Files. Any kind of files.
Granted, the Mac’s Finder is easier to use and more intuitive than anything in the Linux world, and more so that Explorer in Windows Vista. Still, the shortcomings of the venerable Finder persist. Is it any wonder that the Mac’s Finder has spawned so many utilities that help it do the job it should do in the first place?
John Siracusa of ArsTechnica called it the “most widely used piece of abandonware on the Mac.”
Drag a large number of Mac files from one place to another, then grab the towel and suntan lotion because the beach ball hits the screen marking the beginning of summer. Mister Robinson’s neighborhood could do a whole episode on the Finder’s speed. Or, lack of.
Grid spacing. View options. All windows settings. Oh, yes. Window settings. How come the Finder can’t remember anything? See? It’s a healthy list.
Fortunately, there are alternatives. OS X Leopard promises a few extra goodies, but it’s still the same old Finder.
Enter CocoaTech’s latest Path Finder, ready for OS X Leopard, and sporting more features than any Finder, file browser, anywhere. Programmers are often proud of their code, and the CocoaTech folks talk about all the code they use in Path Finder.
Forget about that. It’s geek talking. Mac users care about functionality, ease-of-use, unobtrusive features, and speed, speed, speed. Did I mention dependability? See? I’m not talking about the Mac’s Finder, I’m talking about Path Finder.
The Path Finder interface is Leopard ready. Think of UNO on your Mac, and that’s what you get in the Path Finder look and feel. And tabs. How could I forget tabs. If you like the tabs in Safari you’ll like the tabs in Path Finder. Tabs in a Finder-like application means you have more ways to get to files, faster, easier.
One complaint I have with the Mac’s Finder is icon sizing. Except for the desktop, what Finder gives you is what you get. Path Finder has an icon sizing slider to make what is small, big.
Does your Mac’s browser have bookmarks? Of course. Safari, Firefox, Camino, Netscape, or whatever. Bookmarks are handy and universal. Path Finder has bookmarks for various folders, locations on your Mac’s file structure. And, there’s a View Options feature that actually works, remembers settings, and has a bunch of ways to view this or that.
Spotlight? Yes, I use Spotlight. But not in the Finder. Spotlight works just as well in Path Finder except there are extra filter tools to find files in different ways.
I truly hope Apple is paying attention to Mac developers, because the geeks at CocoaTech listen to users and implement those features most requested. For example, taking file selection. How do you select a file in the Finder. Click. Or, click and drag. That’s it, folks.
In Path Finder you’re given options for file selection—all graphic files, all Word documents, or select by file modification date, and so on.
One thing I don’t like but I suppose is handy for some Mac users is the integration of Allume’s Stuffit engine. Stuffit no longer ships with Mac OS X, even though it’s a free download for the expander from Allume. I don’t care for Stuffit and use the built-in Archive feature in OS X instead.
It’s not that one is better than the other. I seldom see a Stuffit file these days, so why have two applications that do the same thing?
Another issue with the Mac’s Finder is speed. Or lack of. Sometimes you’ll make a change to a file, such as renaming, and it takes the Finder awhile to figure out what you did, then make the change (especially true in sorting files alphabetically). Path Finder is faster. And faster at copying files, too. YMMV depending on your Mac.
Other little touches are handy and thoughtful, showing how much negligence Apple has placed into the Mac’s Finder in recent years. Path Finder’s progress window is better, and has more detail. There’s a built-in Console window. Even create Disk Images right from Path Finder.
We love the Mac. I have a degree of Fondness for the Finder™ but get so frustrated by the shortcomings, lack of features, bugs, of Apple’s prized orphanware, that I’ve collected a dozen utilities to enhance the Finder. Path Finder makes using a finder fun again.
As always, download and try it out for free from CocoaTech. Got a beef with the Finder? Got a beef with my beef of the Finder? Talk Back to Mac360 in the Comments section below.