Commander One: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Dual-Pane File Management Powerhouse

Command One icon
Command One file manager. Courtesy of Eltima Software

Commander One from Eltima is described as a Finder replacement, but a better description would be that it's what the Finder could have been if it had an advanced users option.

Commander One can be used in place of the Finder for just about any file management task you need to undertake. Mac power users will enjoy all of the additional features available to them.

Pro

  • Dual-pane file manager.
  • Unlimited tabs, with each tab holding the contents of a folder.
  • Tabs have independent settings.
  • Use Regular Expressions to perform complex searches.
  • Rename files as they are being moved.
  • User-assignable hotkeys.
  • Separate Pro Pack adds even more capabilities.

Con

  • Doesn't support a single-pane view.
  • Pro Pack is a $29.99 upgrade.

Have you been frustrated trying to manage files with the Mac’s Finder? This is a common complaint of Mac power users who have, for the most part, thought of the Finder as something they're forced to use while waiting for Apple to make fundamental improvements.

The wait may be over, but it isn't Apple riding to the rescue; it's Eltima Software, which makes a number of fabulous Mac apps. Eltima announced the availability of Commander One with a press release that, among other things, touted the new app as being completely written in Swift, the new programming language that Apple developed for iOS and OS X apps.

The reference to Swift piqued my curiosity, but in the real world, it makes no difference what programming language is used; it’s how well an app fills a need and the overall quality of the app that makes the difference.

Using Commander One

Commander One is a Finder replacement, but it isn't a completely new take on how file management should work. Anyone who has used the Finder will instantly recognize Commander One as being Finder-like, and that’s a good thing. There's no reason to reinvent what already works well, and that's the basics of what the Finder does: provide a view into Mac's file system that allows you to easily manipulate files.

Commander One takes the basic Finder app and goes a few steps further.

When you launch Commander One, a dual-pane window will open, with a toolbar across the top that contains commonly used features, such as three ways to view files: quicklook, search, and file info (similar to the Finder’s Get Info). There's also a switch for viewing hidden files, an archiving button for compressing files, and an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) button for connecting to a remote file system, such as another Mac or perhaps your web server.

Below the toolbar, the window is broken into two panes. Each pane is the view into a folder on your Mac. Having two panes allows you to work with two different folders, and easily copy, move, and examine files.

In addition to the two panes, Command One supports unlimited tabs, letting you open a view into more than just two folders at a time.

Finishing off the main window is a set of hotkeys that you can use for common functions, such as copy, move, and delete. You can also assign your own favorite hot keys.

Commander One Views

Commander One supports three basic views in each pane or tab. Known as Full, Brief, and Thumb, the views correspond somewhat closely to the Finder's List, Column, and Icon views.

Each pane or tab can have its own view, so you can set up each pane's view the way that works best for you.

The two-pane view makes moving and copying files very easy, but one of the cons for Command One is that you can never set a single-pane view. You can drag the bar between panes to make one pane as big as possible, giving you close to a single-pane view, but really, the panes should have a close button and be treated just like any other tab you open to view a folder. There's nothing remarkable about the two-pane setup that should prevent you from working in a single-pane view if that is what you wish.

Commander One Special Features

So far, Commander One could be called a well-designed Finder work-alike, but it has quite a few tricks up its sleeve that deserve a bit of exploring.

Commander One has the ability to view files, including binary and hex data, without opening the files. This is similar to OS X’s Quick Look option, but Commander One supports additional file types commonly used by app developers and IT professionals. In addition, there's a built-in FTP and SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) client for connecting to remote systems.

Pro Pack

Commander One is designed to allow add-ons to provide specific new features that a user may need. The first group of add-ons is called the Pro Pack and is available for $29.95 (Commander One is free). The Pro Pack brings the ability to mount iOS devices directly on your Mac, integrates Dropbox, adds an FTP, SFTP, and FTPS (File Transfer Protocol Secure) manager, adds a robust compression and extraction engine that handles most common file compression types, and allows you to add themes, as well as a few more goodies.

Final Thoughts

I was drawn to Commander One because I like the idea of a more capable Finder-like app for advanced file management capabilities. What I found was a file manager app with a lot of capabilities, and a few rough edges that I expect to see smoothed over in future updates.

Commander One provides additional file management capabilities at a very reasonable price (free) and offers more advanced functions as add-ons that you can purchase or not, depending on your needs. I like the add-on capability to mount iOS devices on a Mac, but I don't have a need for the other add-ons at the moment.

Even so, Commander One deserves a look. You may find it a great utility to have in your Mac’s Applications folder.

Commander One is free. A $29.95 Pro Pack is available that offers additional capabilities.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.