Path Finder

Path Finder Update


My favorite Finder replacement, Path Finder, just got updated to version 5.1.4.

The latest version of Path Finder adds a handful of new user-requested features:
* Back to my Mac support
* The option to remove the Finder icon from the Dock
* Desktop grid spacing adjustments
* Trackpad swipe gestures to move back and forward
* Display of local WebDAV volumes

Path Finder 5 Review

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Path Finder starts with the assumption that Apple's own Finder application simply isn't enough. This application is a Finder replacement that provides many tools for file manipulation that simply don't exist in the built-in Finder.

With the built-in drawers, you can minimize your Pathfinder window to those limited set of tools that you particularly need for full screen behemoth giving you microscopic details on your files and system. Using this module system, and you can customize each individual pain for the function you require. It includes modules for attributes, cover flow, information, permissions, the shelf, and the sidebar just to name a few. For LINUX geeks, there is even a terminal module. The preview module is particularly good and even includes some image editing tools.

When you first open PathFinder window, you see elements similar to the Apple Finder with a lot more information and options at your disposal. The customizable bookmark bar remains one of my favorite features. Using it, you can create your own custom drop downs including files and folders you use frequently. Likewise, you can set up a series of tabs at the top of the screen that also allow you to easily move files between them.
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The new version also brings the Leopard sidebar into Path Finder. This allows you to use those sidebar tools from within Path Finder itself. Another new feature is the dual pane. With it, you can place the contents of two folders or volumes side-by-side in one window. This is such a natural way to copy and move files that I'm suprised it never found its way into Apple's Finder. If you are not in the mood to drag files, this new version also provides the ability to cut and paste files. This feature has existed in the Windows Explorer for some time. It is baffling to me that it took this long to get it in OS X.

The implementation of cover flow is very good. With the use of multiple windows, cover flow is actually more useful in Pathfinder than it is in the Apple Finder.
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The drop stack remains one of the most underappreciated features in Path Finder. With it you can drag files from multiple locations creating a disposable temporary folder from which to relocate those files. If used properly, the days of opening two windows to move files are over.

If information is your vice, then Path Finder is your drug. Not only does it provide very detailed information about your selected files, it also allows you to easily modify details and permissions. The application also allows you to easily locate and view hidden files. Another innovative feature is the selection tool which allows you to define criteria for selecting files for manipulation. This is very helpful when working in large folders. Likewise there is a dedicated "Find" window that allows you to get extremely detailed with your searches.

Additional tools include an application launcher, and a robust compression tools.

I reviewed Pathfinder last year and concluded it is the Swiss Army Knife of file applications. With the recent release of version 5, that analogy remains even more true, but now it has a nuclear powered corkscrew and titanium scissors.

You can listen to this review on the Mac Attack Podcast #96

Path Finder Gets an Update


A free update was released today for Pathfinder. Version 4.8's big additions are the Leopard-esque interface redesign and per-folder settings. This allows you to keep preferences for picture folders different from those of document folders (among other things). I'm fairly proficient with the basic finder and yet I still find myself going to Path Finder pretty often. Check it out.

Review - Path Finder


You can hear the below review in MacReview Cast #113.

My experience with Path Finder is an interesting one. When I first switched to my Mac, a friend told me to forget about the Apple Finder and use Path Finder. Well I downloaded it when my Mac was shiny new and it didn't grab me. I used it a few times but found myself going back to the less intimidating Apple Finder.

Well I know quite a bit more about OS X now than I did during that failed trial and decided to give it another go. Now I can't imagine ever working without it.

Path Finder is the Swiss Army Knife of file management tools. When you first open the application there is a group of six windows that are fully customizable. You can display a variety of data from your running applications, file and folder histories, volumes, selection paths, information, permissions, attributes, console, and even a terminal window. The binary view makes me laugh but hey, it must be useful to somebody. With so much variety you can make Path Finder can change to suit your needs rather than forcing you to change to meet the application's needs as is so often the case.

In the main display window it has a Path Navigator that visually tells you where you are and where you have been as you drill down. Like the Apple Finder, Path Finder supports all standard view modes including list, icon, and hierarchical. Also, control clicking on an item in Path Finder gives me a lot more options than I am used too. Of course you can do the normal file management tasks like copying and moving but you can also email, compress, create a disk image, open in terminal and a variety of other options.

This program is very feature rich. So much so that in the week I've been using it I won't pretend to say I'm familiar with them all so I'm going to focus on a few that really grabbed me.

The customizable bookmark bar is very nice. Taking a page from Safari and other web browsers, Path Finder has a bar of common file locations across the top of the screen with drop down menus. It has the usual suspects built in: Documents, Music, Movies and the likes. But you can also create your own custom drop downs like "downloads" or anything else you need frequently.

Another great feature is the Drop Stack. When I open a finder window it is usually to work on several files. With the Drop Stack it gives me a place to temporarily drop files while I'm navigating through multiple menus. Once I've assembled everything I need to work on in my drop stack, its all in one place and easy to get too. This just doesn't mean moving and copying. I can also burn and compress items straight out of the Drop Stack.

Like Forklift and Leopard's Finder, Pathfinder has an excellent preview pane that handles most image and HTML files and even quicktime movie files. I set one of the larger panes for preview and it is very helpful when moving or cleaning image files.

Using the "File History" setting, Pathfinder keeps a running tally of my most recently accessed files. This is nice as I'm going through my day if I am working on several projects.

Path Finder also brings some extra muscle to searching your Mac. I've found Spotlight to be very good at ferreting out lost files but occasionally something will get misplaced into a location that Spotlight doesn't look. Path Finder has its own separate "Fast Search" engine that will search the entire system.

You can't beat Path Finder for compression. A version of the StuffIt compression engine is built right in. When sharing with your PC friends, it also allows for ZIP compression.

Another nice feature is the application window. By holding down command-F8 you open up an attractive window that displays icons for all of your applications. This is great when I need to open an application but forgot its name.

Did I mention it has a built in console window, text editor, and easily allows you to see hidden files?

Looking at the preferences you will see that Path Finder is even more adaptable giving you control over the entire look and feel of the application.

Reflecting on the way I manage files I must give a nod to Quicksilver. Once you get accustomed to Quicksilver, you can't really beat it for down and dirty file management. With just a little practice, you can move, copy, and trash files as quickly as it takes to open Finder or one of its replacements. I really use Path Finder and Forklift on file management tasks that take some heavy lifting.

Path Finder is my finder replacement. It is robust and bends to fit my needs. I would give Forklift the advantage for FTP but generally found Path Finder more useful for the way I compute. I will be keeping both programs and I am certain I will be using them both. If you are looking for just one, you should download and give each one a week or two on your machine to see what fits you better. Like Forklift, Path Finder also has a free trial period. If you get hooked, it will run you $34.95.