Remember way back in the day, back to, uh, well, the last Mac OS X version; back when the Finder was one of Apple’s most hated Mac functions? Those days are gone. The Mac Pro brought the Mac back, and the Finder is better than ever.
What’s missing in the 21st century Mac Finder has a solution in one of my most beloved and frequently used Mac utilities. If you’re like me and take cloud and non-premise storage seriously, then you know about sFTP, S3, Dropbox, SMB, SSH, and all the latest acronyms the cool kids are using to keep stuff online. Here’s one of the best.
Expand The Finder
OK, so the Mac’s Finder is pretty good these days. It still lacks color, but you can add and stack folder favorites with ease, drop in iCloud and various online folders, including Desktop and Documents, then stack up all the connected disk drives you use.
Did I mention Dropbox? Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, and other online cloud storage services all have their own apps which means managing a bunch of apps when all you really want to do is just move files back and forth from the Mac’s Finder to some remote location.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to use a single Mac utility that does this?
If you understand all those storage destinations and the pain it can incur by simply keeping around and keeping updated and using a bunch of different utilities, then you may already know about ExpanDrive.
This cleverly designed utility has been around on the Mac a few years and deserves the praise and attention it gets because it’s like using the Mac’s Finder to connect to nearly two dozen different online protocols from standards like FTP and sFTP to Amazon S2 and Drive, to Google’s Cloud and Drive, to Microsoft’s Azure and various OneDrive versions, plus Dropbox, Box, WebDAV, and others.
One app. Multiple connections. And it just works. Where? Mac, Windows, and, yes, Linux.
What you get is a simple and secure connection from the app on your Mac (or Windows PC or Linux PC) to the remote location or locations of your choice. That means you can connect, send files back and forth, open and edit and save files locally and remotely, all from within your current Mac apps.
How? Drag and drop. Hey, that’s the Mac way, right?
ExpanDrive comes with a built-in Finder for the Mac and Explorer for Windows. It’s smart enough to use even when you’re not connected to the internet and need to work offline– but have the app do the connection and sync later when you’re back online.
Not every Linux distro is supported by ExpanDrive but I don’t know which ones are not because there’s only like, what– 192. Think CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora, RedHat, Mint, and the ones that matter to most of us. For Mac users, ExpanDrive also digs into Spotlight Search so you get fast searches locally and on the server side.
Settings are nominal and straightforward on the Mac. Show in Dock, Start at Login, Reveal Drive after connecting, Show Notifications, and a few others. You even control where the local cache files are stored.
ExpanDrive is try before you buy, of course, but what you get that the few other similar utilities provide is access to more online storage, a totally Mac-like experience– drag and drop– and very little configuration effort. Even better, the app seems to work where others fail, especially on some of the odd Google Drive settings, the persnickety WebDAV versions, and the offline sync is to be used to be appreciated.
ExpanDrive shows up on the Mac’s Finder as a list of connected external cloud sources. What I would like to see– if it’s there I cannot see it– is an option to use ExpanDrive as a single source in the Finder which then combines multiple sources as if they were a single cloud entity.
Otherwise, nicely done, easy to setup and use (except for all the hoops Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, et al make you jump through first).