Apple have made some great advancements with their default Finder application on macOS. For Power Users, however, it still won’t be enough and that is where third party applications come into their own - and Path Finder from Cocoatech is my tool of choice. It’s a Power User’s dream and while there isn’t scope within this post to run through everyfeature on offer, I’d just like to write about why I use it and explain some of the features that get used heavily on a daily basis.
I think the feature I love most about the sidebar is the fact that you can hide sections as needed and, from this reduced view, create a completely different view for a given situation. By default, Path Finder displays sections for Devices, Shared, Places, Recent Documents and Search For. There are times, however, when I let my daughter use the MacBook for homework and I don’t want her to inadvertently make changes to certain important drives! I can hide these sections and create her a whole new sidebar, customised to her liking! (Well, I minimise it and hide everything I don’t want her to see!).
I also use this to create different sidebars for streams of work. I have a minimised sidebar, for example, that only shows a few key folders I may be working from so that there isn’t a lot of noise on the left hand side of my screen. Swapping between custom sidebars is as easy as clicking on the cog on the bottom left hand side of the screen and selecting the sidebar you wish to switch to.
You can also add colour to the default icons within the sidebar. From Preferences, choose Appearance and select the option Use color icons in the standard sidebar (there is a custom option as well).
The Toolbar and Favourites Bar
Like the Sidebar, the Toolbar is highly customisable. Like Finder, by default, you can view your files/folders as icons, a list or in columns. Path Finder differs from Finder, however, in its ability to access dual panes and shelves from the toolbar. More on these later.
As I’m sure you expect, you can customise the toolbar to your liking, adding and removing icons to suit your workflow.
Below the toolbar is a Favourites bar. I use this feature heavily. You can add and remove content from this bar via Drag and Drop. Drag a file or folder in to the bar to add and drag it back out to remove. This is great when you know you are going to be working on a key set of files for any given project. Yes, you may be quick when it comes to using a tool such as Alfred or Spotlight, however, if you are not conversant with those tools this is a great alternative.
Even though there is the ability to add colour to your sidebar icons, the default colour scheme within Path Finder is a fairly drab affair. I don’t know, maybe that’s just my opinion as I’m a very visual person and need colour to help my mind focus. There is a great Colour Editor in Path Finder that allows you to modify the colour within the frames, toolbars, active windows etc. The first change I made was to assign a more vibrant colour to the active window when in dual pane view. Sometimes, I found it hard to differentiate which window was the source and which the destination when transferring files. Not the case now! I have a nice shade of orange to signify the active pane and this helps a lot.
Now that iOS 11 has been released, the concept of shelves is coming to the fore. They have been around for a while though, as Path Finder attests to. With the click of a button, you can create shelves on the bottom, right or both sides of the Path Finder window.
So what do these shelves do? Well, quite a lot! These shelves can display information that would otherwise be accessed via a contextual menu or some form of keyboard shortcut. There are modules for Get Info, Tags and Ratings, Preview, Attributes - even other applications can be accessed, such as iTunes or Terminal.
Myself, I have a fairly simple setup as I think it can be easy to get lost within the cruft of information available. On the bottom, I have the shelf enabled with Info, Preview, Tags and Ratings and Recent Documents on show. That’s it, no right hand shelves. If there was ever a point where I needed to have more information on-hand, I know where to go to activate it but for now, less is more - and it’s still more than I would see with Finder.
You can rename files in bulk once you’ve selected them within Path Finder. Pick the files you wish to rename and then go to Commands, Batch Rename (or use the keyboard shortcut ⬆⌘R). You can elect to replace certain text, insert text, change case, add date - you can do almost anything here. You can also build steps so that it’s not just one action you are taking. Want to replace text in a group of files whilst adding a date? Easy. Just build the action.
The last feature that I use heavily is Drop Stack. Drop Stack is an area within Path Finder where you can drop files that you wish to move/copy later. I often find myself needing to gather files from different folders to either email or move to a different location - the Drop Stack is a great, simplistic medium for this. Drag files into the stack to move them (Press alt and drag to copy) and then drag them out to the destination when you are there. You can also access the contextual menu to compress the files and then email them.
There are other tools that take this feature to a much higher level, such as Dropzone however this is a great feature to have within a Finder application. A sensible place to have it running.
There are so many other features within Path Finder that I’ve only scratched the surface here. These are just the key features to my own workflow that allow me to work a little freer and easier. I haven’t touched on Folder Sync, Smart Copy/Move, Folder Merging or Group View, as well as the plethora of options within Preferences. Maybe as time permits, I’ll dig a little deeper.
Do you use Path Finder? How does it help your flow? Let me know in the comments section below!