Path Finder 7: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Powerful File Management System Runs Rings Around the Finder

Path Finder 7
Courtesy of Cocoatech

Path Finder 7 from Cocoatech is a Finder replacement that brings superior file management capabilities to the Mac. If you work a great deal with your Mac’s files, you've probably found that the Finder, while adequate for most uses, is a bit of a stumblebum when it comes to speed, advanced features, and customization.

Pros

  • Customizable views far beyond what the Finder offers.
  • Customizable modules that provide unique tools for working with files.
  • Batch file selection and renaming.
  • Folder synchronization.
  • Folder merging.
  • Wide range of keyboard shortcuts.
  • Dual-pane browser for easy file copying and moving.
  • Custom file groupings.
  • Colorful sidebar.
  • Fast.

Cons

  • Visually heavy interface.
  • Steep learning curve.

Path Finder 7 brings the tools and speed that power users want to the Mac. Ever since the OS X Finder was originally unveiled, users have been asking for more capabilities. The Finder is fine for daily use when we're working with an app or two, and have basic file management needs, such as copying a few documents or moving a file to a new location. But it has never been a great tool for managing workflow and has actually been a bottleneck for many of us.

Path Finder has quite an array of features; some are obvious, such as bookmarks for favorite locations within your Mac’s file system. Bookmarks work as a quick method for browsing locations in your Mac’s file system.

You can add items to the Finder's sidebar and gain quick access to them, but bookmarks allow you to browse more quickly, without opening windows, instead of using hierarchical drop-down menus.

Some features aren't so obvious, but they're the keys to making your work more productive. One of my favorites is the smart file copying/moving queue.

If you have ever copied lots of files at once, you know the Finder queues them up sequentially, copying one after another until the list is complete. Path Finder has a smart queue that looks at the sources and destinations of the copying queue. It can then organize the file copying for best performance, even allowing concurrent copying to occur if the source and destinations are on different drives.

Path Finder Modules and Shelves

One of the unique features of Path Finder is its use of customizable shelves and modules. Shelves are viewing panes arranged along the bottom and right side of the Path Finder window. Each viewing pane can be configured to show any Path Finder module. Modules are used to show various types of information about files or folders that are selected in Path Finder. Some of the modules available include file info, preview, selection path, tags, and ratings; there's even a Terminal module that runs the Terminal app in its own embedded pane. Altogether, there are 18 modules to choose from, and each is customizable for how it works.

One of the benefits of this approach is that you can have a bird's eye view of just about anything file-related, without having to change views or open special windows.

I like to have the preview module available at all times; it gives me a Quick Look-type view of the file I've selected, no matter what view I'm using.

Path Finder 7 has too many features to run down here. Suffice it to say that if you have needs beyond the capabilities of the standard Finder, Path Finder can probably take care of them for you.

Path Finder is a standalone app. It doesn't replace the Finder; you can have both a Finder window and Path Finder windows open. But as you get used to Path Finder, you'll probably discover that you'll use the Finder less often.

Path Finder 7 is $39.95. A demo is available.

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