Every year or two, a chorus of dissatisfaction swells over the default Mac OS X Finder. The underlying problem is that the Finder really hasn’t changed much since we were all sitting behind our shiny new Macs in 1984.
When the rumors started swirling about Snow Leopard and a “brand new” Finder, there was hope Apple would take a new pass at it but, alas, we only got the same old Finder re-built using modern frameworks.
There are also several third party Finder replacements. PathFinder is my favorite. However, very few third party applications have had the moxy to fiddle with the Apple Finder. TotalFinder does.
TotalFinder is a new Finder enhancement available for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. It brings several new tricks to the OS X Finder.
TotalFinder’s premier feature is tabbed browsing in the Finder. You know those tabs you use in Safari? They are now in the Finder. This lets you display multiple Finder panes in the same Finder window and makes it easy to jump between them.
The tabs are based on code from Google Chrome and look like it. You can open a new tab with the keyboard (⌘T). You can move between tabs with a click of the mouse. You can reorder them or pull a tab into a separate window. You can close specific tabs (⌘W) or double-click one to enter dual mode (discussed below). You can also drag and drop files between tabs. The tabs act exactly as you would expect them too. This alone was worth the $15 license fee to me.
Dual mode is activated by double-clicking any tab or pressing ⌘U. It results in two finder panes side by side. This makes it easy to copy and move files between panes.
Additional Bells and Whistles
The use of tabs and dual-mode are TotalFinder’s big selling points. The developer even redrew the Finder icon, adding tabs. Many users will never stray beyond those two features. There are, however, some more tricks with TotalFinder
One annoyance I have with the default Finder is the way it mixes folders with files. I prefer, when looking at a Finder window, to have folders on top and the rest of the files below. TotalFinder does this. It can be toggled on and off (⇧⌘;) for you traditionalists. TotalFinder also adds a keyboard (⇧⌘.) shortcut to toggle display of hidden system files.
TotalFinder additionally has a system-wide Visor mode that pulls up a dedicated Finder window from the bottom of your screen. I tried this for a few weeks but in the end turned it off. If you are a Terminal.app user and like its Visor mode, you’ll be right at home. It works best with an auto-hiding dock.
There also is an advanced command-line feature, Asepsis, that helps you redirect propagation of those pesky .DS_Store files that seem to be everywhere.
The developer also plans to add some additional features including the ability to cut and paste files between Finder windows.
Overall, TotalFinder is a good investment at $15 if you frequently find your desktop overpopulated with unruly Finder windows.
You can listen to this review on the MacReviewCast.