When OS X launched way back at the turn of the century, it came with a new version of the Mac’s venerable Finder utility. From then on and for a decade or so it seemed as if Apple ignored the Finder completely.
The Finder’s shortcomings and anemia were the tales of Mac folklore and Apple’s neglect spawned a small cottage industry of Finder add-on and replacement utilities. Then Apple decided to show the Finder some love and today’s El Capitan Finder is the best yet. What happened to all the add-on and replacement utilities?
Tale Of The Long Tail
The Mac’s Finder is a better Mac citizen, but through the years it has borrowed heavily from Finder add-on tools. Apple did not innovate much with the multiple tabbed windows in the Finder. Here’s a quick look at Finder add-on utilities which out do the Finder itself.
Path Finder – This great utility can be a complete replacement for the Finder. Path Finder is what the Finder would be if it was a superhero and it comes complete with tools the Finder could have but does not and likely will not. Ever.
Path Finder comes with shelves, tabs, bookmarks, a command line tool, an ACL editors, FolderSync and Merge, option sort features, tags, filtering, plus the standard tabs, multiple panes, Quick Look and Cover Flow.
Commander One – I prefer to think of Commander One as more of a Path Finder Lite replacement for the Finder. It looks like the Finder, smells like the Finder, functions like the Finder, but has a few features you’ll find in Path Finder but for less money.
Commander One can display hidden files, opens up unlimited tab windows, has built-in Spotlight search, and has a cool option to rename files upon moving to a different folder. It also archives ZIP files (and unzips), has customizable hotkeys, and… insert drum roll here… has an option for different fonts and colors so you can customize the look and feel.
CRAX Commander – Between the Finder at the low end and Path Finder at the high end is CRAX Commander, a dual pane file manager for the Mac that looks and feels like the Mac’s Finder, comes with multiple panes, tabs, bookmarks, a built-in text editor, and the ability to connect to remote Macs or servers using FTP, sFTP, and SMB or AFP.
CRAX Commander comes in two versions. One from the Mac App Store which contains less features, and one from the developer which has more features. Lots of extra functionality here that you won’t get in the Mac’s Finder, including split and combine files, calculations for file checksums, folder merging, and more.
TotalFinder – This is an oldie but a goodie, a Finder add-on utility that puts into Finder that which Apple has not bother to copy to the Mac. Yet. TotalFinder features Chrome-like tabs, colored labels, an option to sort folders on top, a handy visor window, and, of course, dual pane mode but invoked by keyboard shortcuts.
All these Finder add-on or replacement utilities underscore one prominent issue. Competition is good. Apple neglected the Mac’s Finder for years which spawned an add-on and replacement app industry, Apple then upped its game by incorporating some of the features popularized by competitors and everyone wins with more choices.